On this CD Italian saxophonist Carla Marciano pays tribute to a lifelong influence, the music of film soundtrack composer Bernard Hermann. Hermann wrote a lot of significant scores in his time but Marciano concentrates on his music for thrillers. She mostly deals with his scores for Alfred Hitchcock, but also tackles his music for Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" and Roy Boulting's "Twisted Nerve."
Marciano's arrangements of this music divide into two motifs, darkly seductive love themes and boiling spiritual jazz rambles. The former is heard on the themes from "Taxi Driver" and Hitchcock's "Marnie" as Marciano blows rapturous alto over Alessandro La Corte's shimmering electric piano, creating an air of tempting but dangerous romance. This sound seeps through quietly on "Taxi Driver" becomes but louder and more empathic on "Marnie." Marciano's own composition, "From 'Marnie' to 'Twisted Nerve,'" forms a bridge between the two styles, with swooning siren songs giving way to the sound of chaos, with turbulent alto honks and tumbling piano, bass and drums.
With "Theme From 'Twisted Nerve'" the music goes fully into John Coltrane territory. Marciano's soprano twitters and caws over the melody while the piano pounces and dives and La Corte and bassist Aldo Vigorito take swirling solos. This style continues into the most famous Hitchcock-Hermann collaboration, the theme from "Psycho." First La Corte nervously paws at his piano alone, teasing parts of the famous theme. Then Vigorito stabs his bass with his bow, and the delirious "Psycho" theme appears in full effect with Marciano's alto careening up and down like a speeding roller coaster, The leader eventually goes on a howling, full-throated tear, leaving Hermann's theme behind, as the other members of the quartet continually collide and explode.
"Vertigo" returns to the dreamier side of things as piano and alto slowly play the film's tipsy, carousel-like theme. Marciano blows long, low foghorn-like notes as La Corte plays the slowly revolving, off-center main phrase over and over. Eventually Marciano's alto goes into a gliding singsong pattern as La Corte switches to plush electric keyboards and Gaetano Fasano's rattling drum beats increase the tension. This is followed by another piece of the "Vertigo" score, "Scene D'amour" where an overall feel of sophisticated romance is clouded by Marciano's increasingly harsh bellows. The rhythm section begins to dip and swoop with some of the combustible fire of the classic Coltrane quartet while Marciano's sound quiets down but still carries a feel of wary uncertainty.
The album actually has a non-Hermann ending as Marciano tips her cap to another noted film composer, John Williams. She turns his "Hedwig's Theme" from the Harry Potter movies into another joyous spiritual jazz romp. Her soprano rolls over, up, sideways, and down, shouting and flying like Coltrane himself working over "My Favorite Things." La Corte, Vigorito and Fasano do an excellent job at keeping the rhythm burning hot underneath her wild, tuneful acrobatics.
Carla Marciano is a strong saxophonist who has a great time exploring the sinister and playful moods of two great film composers here. She finds some thrilling new things to do with some familiar music.
HOMAGE TO BERNARD HERRMANN: Theme from "Taxi Driver" (Betsy's Theme); Theme from "Marnie
(Prelude); From "Marnie" to "Twisted Nerve"; Theme from "Twisted Nerve" (Theme and Variations); Theme
from "Psycho" (Prelude); Theme from "Vertigo" (Prelude); Theme from "Vertigo" (Scene D'Amour); .
HOMAGE TO JOHN WILLIAMS - Theme from "Harry Potter" (Hedwig's Theme). .
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