Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

124

Various Artists: Crime Jazz: Music in the First Degree; Crime Jazz: Music in the Second Degree

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
The hard-boiled television and movie crime drama had its heyday from about 1950 to 1965. These mostly forgotten B-movies and early TV series were usually set in a gritty urban landscape, and revolved around a cop or private dick who was violent when he needed to be, and suave and romantic when he wanted to be. The names of these characters alone evoke a nostalgic, if testosterone overdosed, image of the romantic Hollywood tough guy. Mike Hammer. Johnny Staccato. Peter Gunn. Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra's role, a junkie jazz drummer, in The Man with the Golden Arm ). The music that played in these characters' rundown apartments, and at the seedy nightclubs and dive bars they frequented, was, naturally, jazz.

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.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Live at the Athenaeum" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Athenaeum
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 12, 2018
Read "Second Stream" CD/LP/Track Review Second Stream
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Ts'iibil Chaaltun" CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Songbook Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook Volume 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Last Minute Panic" CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Sonic Cinema" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Cinema
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 1, 2017