194

Jazzy Soundtracks: Mr. Buddwing

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
For those of us who live in parts of the country where the seasons change, those transformations keep life interesting and varied. Much in the same manner, a change of pace musically can keep your ears perked and the creative juices flowing. Those of us who are serious collectors often go through a 'change of seasons' when focusing on a specific genre or record label. Immersing ourselves in the music, we might spend a good deal of time and effort looking to fill gaps and listening more intently to a specific style. Long story short, my summer listening tastes have found me going back to a number of my favorite jazzy soundtracks and realizing that the times sure have changed. Today's big productions go for commercial soundtracks that are essentially a collection of pop singles used to promote and sell even more records. But back in the days, you had talented composers and arrangers scoring themes for studio orchestras that regularly included New York's first-call jazz musicians.

While the temptation was there to include some of my favorites by Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, and Duke Ellington, over the next few months the focus will instead be on some obscure soundtracks that have alluded repackaging up to this point. This month's column will be the first of a five-part series and it kicks off with an LP from one of my favorite composers, who just so happens to have been the topic of discussion before here at the Vinyl Junkyard. Kenyon Hopkins was a very talented writer and arranger who wrote original music and soundtracks for a number of motion pictures and has lately become the darling of those who prefer the style that has been billed as Space Age Pop or Bachelor Pad Music.

One of three soundtracks that Hopkins would record for producer Creed Taylor at Verve Records, Mr. Buddwing is a long-forgotten flick from 1965 that finds James Garner playing a man who awakens on a park bench in Central Park with no memories at all. The drama then chronicles the search for his identity until the music from a record player touches off a lost chord in his memory. Hopkins' score is decidedly upbeat and extremely jazzy, with a small combo at the core of the music, the use of strings and horns done so sparingly. "Hard Latin" comes on with a salsa backbeat and punchy brass accents. The Hammond organ spins a few choruses with a sound more in line with the Larry Young school than the cheesy ice rink variety that was popular at the time.

Other prime tracks include "West Side Radio," a loping 6/8 number with some snappy trumpet work and an insistent cowbell beat. And while Hopkins does have a few reoccurring themes that he recycles as do most soundtrack composers, the majority of the cuts have their own identity and the record does flow more like a typical jazz album than a sequence of cues from the movie. Unfortunately, personnel are not listed on the cover and various discographies I've consulted don't offer much help either. Based on my own experience and aural evidence, it is nonetheless very likely that Rudy Van Gelder engineered the sessions as the sound quality is superb and the stereo mix is tight and precise.

As soundtracks go and as an excellent demo disc for audiophiles, Mr. Buddwing makes a strong impression and it can be found in regular rotation on my turntable. Hopkins made his mark with this one and another soundtrack that we'll be taking a look at next month. Meanwhile, this one's definitely worth tracking down and while somewhat rare, it usually comes at a modest price.

Track listing

Side One: The Bridge, Hard Latin, Lunch Room, Main Titles, Memory Montage, Fiddler's Walk

Side Two: Mister Bee, West Side Radio, Headache Montage, R & B 12 (Blues), Mirror, 12/8 Theme


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Artie Butler: Have You Met Miss Jones? Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Artie Butler: Have You Met Miss Jones?
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 29, 2005
Read Moacir Santos: Maestro Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Moacir Santos: Maestro
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: May 31, 2005
Read Bobbi Humphrey: Flute-In Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Bobbi Humphrey: Flute-In
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 29, 2005
Read Ronnie Foster: On the Avenue & Cheshire Cat Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Ronnie Foster: On the Avenue & Cheshire Cat
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 24, 2005
Read Jazzy Soundtracks 4: Kean Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Jazzy Soundtracks 4: Kean
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: December 16, 2004
Read Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2004
Read "Jazz em Agosto 2017" Live Reviews Jazz em Agosto 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles" Multiple Reviews Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Kronos Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall" Live Reviews The Donny McCaslin Group at The Arden Gild Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Love, Gloom, Cash, Love" Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas" Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor