Of all the music that might enchant the ears of a child, the dark and often foreboding themes designed by film composer Bernard Herrmann would seem to be at the far end of the line. Nevertheless, as a young girl in Salerno, Italy, that is the music which saxophonist Carla Marciano says "dazzled" her senses, as it has to this day. Hence Psychosis, an earnest salute to Herrmann in which his film scores have been compressed from full orchestra to quartetMarciano, pianist Alessandro La Corte, bassist Aldo Vigorito and drummer Gaetano Fasano.
The album's title derives not only from Herrmann's uncommon approach to his craft but from the fact that he scored several films directed by Alfred Hitchcock including the 1960 classic Psycho (the others included Marnie and Vertigo, both of whose themes are reproduced here). The ensemble also revisits Herrmann's scores from Taxi Driver and Twisted Nerve before closing with another tribute, this one to John Williams for "Hedwig's Theme" from Harry Potter, arranged by pianist La Corte.
While Marciano and her teammates earn high marks for ardor and ingenuity, this is not music that is generally easy to embrace and warm to. In other words, it is far more easily digested when accompanied by film scenes that underscore its purpose. The melodic lines, some of which may awaken memories in those who are familiar with their films of origin, remain credibly intact, serving as a more or less familiar point of departure. From there, the emphasis shifts for the most part to Marciano's improvisations, and while she is technically sound, her sometimes overstated and strident flights of fancy are clearly an acquired taste. Meanwhile, La Corte, Vigorito and Fasano, perhaps too acutely aware that they are replacing a full orchestra, try too hard from time to time to sound like one, whereas a lighter touch might have sufficed.
The opening themes, "Taxi Driver" and "Marnie," are reasonably calm and melodious, after which the prelude and theme to "Twisted Nerve" ramp up the turbulence. La Corte introduces the relatively well-known theme from "Psycho," whose midway tempo change marks the jazziest section on the album, wherein Marciano gives full rein to her penchant for honking and screeching before Fasano frames a more measured solo. "Vertigo" is grim and haunting, the "Scene d'Amour" lighter and more lyrical (despite more shrieking from Marciano), "Harry Potter" lively but disheveled. A sincere and often suitably unnerving homage to Herrmann.
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). .