Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jazz on Screen: The Film Scores of Robby Poitevin

A.D3 Operazione Squalo Bianco / L'uomo Del Colpo Perfetto
Tecnica Di Un Omicidio / Quella Carogna Dell'Ispettore Sterling

Robby Poitevin

GDM Music

Little is known about Robby Poitevin, composer of a handful of Italian film scores from the late '60s, four of which are collected on these two GDM releases.

The main theme for Tecnica di un Omicidio (aka Professional Killer, '66) is a catchy crime jazz prowler with swaggering brass, sinuous flutes and a strong rhythm section. It's a killer. On "My Man", the mood is mellow for a couple of minutes with smoky flute and vibes before a bossa nova rhythm kicks in for the final minute. Intrigue returns on the combustably percusisve "Central Station" and the tension-building abstraction "Clint in Agguato". The mood goes from chill to anxious on "Alba a New York." Another brassy crime jazz track is "Bassifondi". The swinging English-language version of "My Man" is performed by an unnamed but capable female vocalist. Overall, it's a minor but enjoyable crime jazz score.

Quella Carogna Dell'Ispettore Sterling
(aka The Falling Man, '67) starts with a lively Italian-language song sung by the legendary modern choir of Alessandroni. From there, Poitevin provides a blend of jazzy, Latin-esque and easy moods favoring brass and keyboards (organ and electric harpsichord). On the languid "One More Step," featuring an English-language vocal and melody borrowed from the main theme, is pleasingly intriguing thanks to the unusual tones employed by the organist and electric guitar player. Other highlights include the swinging "Strade, Luci, Notte" and psychedelically abstract "Ossessione die un Ricordo" and "Allucinazione."

For the spy flick A.D3 Operazione Squalo Bianco (aka Operation White Shark, '66), Poitevin provides a typically Italian twist on the '60s spy sound — small group jazz, a bit of bossa nova, and moods that range from suave and sexy to suspenseful to slightly silly. Like most b-movie scores, there are a couple of themes at work here, with multiple variations. The main theme serves a variety of moods, ranging from carnival-esque to tension-building (with some unusual treated piano effects).
Occasionally, the main theme is refered to as "The Syndicate," and makes great use of harpsichord, electric guitar, percussion and flute over a swaggering rhythm. In addition, there is "Bubba Dub Bossa," which gets its name for the catchy call-and-response, male and female vocals of the Alessandroni choir.

Operation White Shark is paired with L'uomo Del Colpo Perfetto (aka Hot Diamonds in Cold Blood, '67), which features a groovy, frenetic main theme with a youthful bouncy beat, electric guitar rhythm and the Alessandroni choir. In addition, there are tracks of Near East intrigue featuring exotic percussion (sometimes with a nice backbeat) as well as abstract tension-builders with watery sounding electric guitar lines, echoing percussion and that standby of spy jazz, the harpsichord. Overall, Poitevin's crime/spy jazz scores are enjoyable if not groundbreaking and worth discovering if you love the genre.

Review previously published on

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