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Lalo Schifrin: Bullitt: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Chris May By

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Here is a treat for jazz fans, cinephiles and audiophiles. A 180-gram vinyl remastered-edition, manufactured with analogue-only technology, of Lalo Schifrin's original soundtrack for Peter Yates's 1968 thriller Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen as a jazz-loving San Francisco police detective.

Schifrin began his career as a jazz pianist in his native Argentina and continued as one when he moved to New York to join Dizzy Gillespie's quintet in 1960. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1963 and was soon composing and arranging for the movies, revealing a singular talent for combining jazz with pop music—a combination of gravitas and froth which was loved by contemporary Hollywood producers, and which also shaped Schifrin's arrangements for Stan Getz's Reflections and Jimmy Smith's The Cat (both Verve, 1964).

Some 50 years after the movie's release, this immaculately rendered reissue makes Schifrin's music sounds as though it was recorded yesterday, though various stylistic tics do, of course, suggest its likely age. The score begins in a laid-back Latin groove and builds in urgency. As the narrative unfolds, limpid flutes and bossa nova-ish ballads rub shoulders with high intensity, rough-edged roof raisers. First-call jazz musicians involved include some of the West Coast's finest: saxophonist and flautist Bud Shank, guitarist Howard Roberts, bassist Ray Brown and drummers Stan Levey and Larry Bunker. In the scene in which McQueen is on a dinner date with his girlfriend, the group seen apparently playing "Cantata For Combo" is Meridian West, a real-life jazz quartet which McQueen had come across in a Sausilito restaurant (the track was actually dubbed by the studio musicians).

Most AAJers are likely to have intersected with Schifrin's Bullitt soundtrack at some time, on some platform. But never with audio quality as superb as this.

Track Listing: Bullitt (Main Title); Room 26; Hotel Daniels; The Aftermath Of Love; Music To Interrogate By; On The Way To San Mateo; Ice Pick Mike; A Song For Cathy; Shifting Gears; Cantata For Combo; The First Snowfall; Bullitt (End Title).

Personnel: Lalo Schifrin: composer (tracks 1-10, 12), arranger, conductor; John Audino, Bud Brisbois, Tony Terran: trumpets, flugelhorns; Milt Bernhart, Dick Noel, Lloyd Ulyate, Lew McCreary: trombones; Bud Shank, Ronnie Lang, Gene Cipriano, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz: flutes, saxophones; Mike Melvoin: piano, organ; Howard Roberts, Mike Deasy, Bob Bain: guitars; Ray Brown: double bass; Carole Kaye, Max Bennett: electric basses; Stan Levey: drums; Larry Bunker: percussion; unidentified strings.

Title: Bullitt: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Speakers Corner

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