Various Artists: Crime Jazz: Music in the First Degree; Crime Jazz: Music in the Second Degree
Some of the best of this "crime jazz" has been collected on two highly entertaining CDs by those purveyors of musical mayhem at Rhino. These albums feature themes and incidental music from dozens of obscure and well-known films and TV shows. Along with familiar selections from Perry Mason, Peter Gunn, Mission: Impossible, and West Side Story (via Stan Kenton), are cuts from classic films like The Hustler, Touch of Evil, and The Wild One, and TV shows like Naked City, 77 Sunset Strip, and Mr. Lucky.
Although Hollywood has never been particularly friendly to jazz, this temporary fad for jazz-based soundtracks did put a lot of good musicians to work. The compositions and arrangements here, mostly for big band and orchestra, are by some of Hollywood's best: Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones. Most selections are dominated by brash, hard swinging horn sections with a modicum of soloing. Along with tastes of West Coast cool, early rock 'n' roll, Latin jazz, even cha cha, we get appropriately cheesy music for strip joints, prison breaks, and street fights. While everything here is slickly produced, there is some excellent playing by such noted jazz stars as Stan Getz, Shorty Rogers, and Kai Winding.
Record Label: Rhino Records