Sunday, August 23, 2009

V.A. — Jazz en el Cine Negro Espanol 1958-64

Take one look at the pulpy cover and you know what you're in for — Spanish film noir crime jazz of the same era as Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato and Touch of Evil. Consider yourself under arrest, amigo.

The package's luridly illustrated bi-lingual insert explains how the crime films of Julio Coll, Juan Bosch and other directors broke significant stylistic ground by delving into the seedy side of life in Franco's Spain through such films as Un Vaso de Whisky (A Glass of Whiskey, '58) and A Sangre Fria (In Cold Blood, '59).

Jazz En El Cine Negro Espanol delivers a riveting 79-minute program of hard-boiled brass, vulgar organ tones, well-chilled vibes and smoky atmosphere. Most of the music is by Jose Sola, with additional tracks by Augusto Alguero, Enrique Escobar and Federico Martinez Tudo, who are relatively unknown to film music fans.

Essentially, this Fresh Sound compilation produced by Jordi Pujol marks the first exploration into a neglected realm for many soundtrack connoisseurs. It will be a welcome addition to their collections.

Although one might expect frequent use of percussion and Latin rhythms, there is a fair amount of stylistic experimentation here. Some of the best passages employ the frenetic percussive style to depict dramatic action far from the dance floor. Other tracks favor swing and jazz styles that wouldn't sound out of place in a typical Hollywood production of the era. There's even a bit of rollicking rock 'n' roll featuring jangling electric guitar rhythms and wailing saxophone. Reinforcing the Hollywood influence is the presence of American singer Gloria Stewart on the slow, sultry "Manhattan Blues."

Peppered with dialogue and the sounds of on-screen action, the listening experience is akin to playing a video just for the aural atmosphere. About half of the tracks exceed the 10-minute mark as multiple cues flow one after another. This is an ideal personal soundtrack for fans of vintage crime novels. Like watching a film noir festival, however, the experience is likely to encourage heavy drinking and cigarette smoking!

This review was previously published at the author's soundtrack review site

No comments:

Post a Comment