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Randy Waldman: UnReel

Jim Santella By

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Baby Boomers know these songs. We grew up with 'em. Randy Waldman has placed songs from television and motion pictures into jazz surroundings. It's been done before, and it's always a welcome scene. Waldman's piano leads most of the session, and his guests certainly know jazz. He plays both trumpet and piano on "Leave It To Beaver." Elsewhere, his all-star guests fill in the blanks with bone-chilling memories. Throughout, John Patitucci and Vinnie Colaiuta provide solid, straight-ahead thrills. "Schindler's List" receives a dramatic reading by Branford Marsalis. Waldman's arrangements are unique. "Hawaii Five-O," for example can get quite stale if played in the usual manner. Here, Randy Brecker lifts it above reproach. He and Waldman know a thing or two about popular music and jazz.

Waldman was a piano child prodigy by age 5. Eventually, he settled for a music career with the television and motion picture industry. By now, he's performed on hundreds of motion picture soundtracks. His percussive piano style makes changes in mood as emphatic as desired. Performing "Forrest Gump" as solo piano, Waldman drifts from scene to scene, recalling how the film moved seamlessly through time. Strong appearances by Lew Soloff, Tom Scott and Bob McChesney give the mainstream session a lift. The final number, "Maniac," departs from the album's formula and introduces a little quiet storm magic. While Michael Sembello's voice and guitar offer a pleasant closing, it's a stark reminder that many television and motion picture soundtracks simply cannot stand alone. Lalo Schifrin's "Mannix," Leonard Bernstein's "America" and John Williams' "Raiders March," on the other hand, provide clear examples of music that can stand up and be recognized. Randy Waldman's homage to these compositions can be enjoyed by all.

Track Listing: The Jetsons; My Favorite Things; Leave It To Beaver; Bali Hai; Schindler's List; Hawaii Five-O; America; Mannix; Ben Casey; Raiders March; Forrest Gump; Maniac.

Personnel: Randy Waldman- piano, trumpet; John Patitucci- bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- drums; "Rev" Dave Boruff, Branford Marsalis- soprano saxophone; Michael Brecker, Ernie Watts, Tom Scott- tenor saxophone; Gary Grant, Randy Brecker- trumpet; Lew Soloff- trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob McChesney- trombone, bass trombone; Gary Burton- vibraphone; Kevin Clark, Michael O'Neil- guitar; Michael Sembello- guitar, vocal; Darius Campo, Juliann French- violin; Andrew Picken- viola; Larry Corbett, Armen Ksadjikian- cello; Dave Carpenter- bass on "My Favorite Things."

Title: UnReel | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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