In today’s movie soundtrack market, the word is “hype.” Hype, hype, and hype. This week’s flavor, usually a pubescent boy act, is packaged as the soundtrack to the latest teen slasher film. Before the movie comes to theatres, MTV has the video, Burger King the action doll, and junior wants a T-shirt. I’m sorry but I’m feeling a bit manipulated. I guess I’m pining for a time when the musical performance was an integral part of the film and not a downstream profit generator. From the 1930s through the early 1960s jazz played a large role in Hollywood’s productions, being the popular music of the day (at least the popular music of the 30s & 40s); moviegoers went to catch a glimpse of Louis Armstrong or sex symbol Lena Horne. Their performances were the MTV videos of their day.
Rhino Records, having access to Turner Classic Movie vaults, has culled 51 jazz tracks from M-G-M, Warner Bros., and RKO films. The music, half of which has never been released before, is a must for jazz collectors who require every performance by the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, or Duke Ellington. But what I find appealing is the breadth of music utilized by Hollywood. From star generators Doris Day and Bing Crosby to the cameos of Benny Carter in An American In Paris, Fats Waller and Bojangles in Living In A Great Big Way, or Hoagy Carmichael in To Have Or Have NotHighlights include an unheard Ellington cut from the Marx Brother’s Day At The Races, every performance by Louis Armstrong-especially teamed with Bing Crosby, the small group recordings of Count Basie and the never released recordings from The Subterraneans. The nine Subterraneans tracks feature Andre Previn’s music in trio and supplemented by bebop heavyweights Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Art Farmer, Shelly Manne, and Red Mitchell. With too many gems to mention, I’ll just say the entire compilation is a gas. I got to go, I think Casablancais on cable tonight.
Disc One:Living In A Great Way – Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Fats Waller, Jeni LeGon; Congo Fever (Jungle Fever) – The Mills Brothers; Let That Be A Lesson To You – Johnnie “Scat” Davis, Francis Langford, Benny Goodman & His Orchestra; I’ve Got A Heartful Of Music – The Benny Goodman Quartet; You’re An Education – The Three Symphonettes, Freddie Rich & His Orchestra; All God’s Chillin’ Got Rhythm – Ivie Anderson, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra; Jeepers Creepers – Louis Armstrong; Nightmare – Artie Shaw & His Orchestra; Traffic Jam - Artie Shaw & His Orchestra; Blues In The Night – Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra; You’ve Got To Know How To Dance – Six Hits And A Miss; Buds Won’t Bud – Ethel Waters; Medley: Things Ain’t What They Used To Be/Going Up – Duke Ellington & His Orchestra; Shine – Buck & Bubbles; Mrs. Whiffen – Mel Torme, Marcy McGuire & Ivy Scott; One O’clock Jump – Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra; Body & Soul – The Hazel Scott Trio; Toot Suite – Harry James & His Orchestra; Hong Kong Blues – Hoagy Carmichael; Baltimore Oriole – Hoagy Carmichael; Please Don’t Say No – The King Sisters; Jammin’ The Blues – Lester Young & Company; On The Sunny Side Of The Street – Marie Bryant, Lester Young & Company; It’s You Or No One – Doris Day, Page Cavanaugh Trio; You Do Something To Me – Lena Horne; I’ll Get By – Lena Horne.
Disc Two:Medley: Do, Do, Do/Bidin’ My Time/I’ve Got A Crush On You/Love Is Here To Stay – Benny Carter & His Orchestra; Ain’t Misbehavin’ Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars with Jack Teagarden; Hold Me Close To You – Billy Eckstine; Taking A Chance On Love – Dorothy Dandridge; My Flaming Heart – Nat “King” Cole; Now You Has Jazz – Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong; I Love You Samantha - Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong; I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good – Julie Wilson with Ray Thomas & His Orchestra; Improvisation #1 – Andre Previn Trio; Red Drum Blues - Andre Previn Trio; Improvisation #2 – Andre Previn Trio; Coffee Theme –Carmen McRae with Andre Previn Trio; Spaghetti Fantasy - Gerry Mulligan & Company; Alarm Clock - Gerry Mulligan & Company; Should I? - Andre Previn Trio; Things Are Looking Good - Gerry Mulligan & Company; Bread & Wine - Gerry Mulligan & Company; God Bless The Child – Pearl Bailey; Don’t Blame Me – Leslie Uggams; Sunday In New York – Mel Torme; The Girl From Ipanema – Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto; Skol Sister – Count Basie & His Octet; Goof Proof - Count Basie & His Octet; Lottie - Count Basie & His Octet; I Got Rhythm – Louis Armstrong.