Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jazz Soundtracks — Part 9

The following are excerpts from the book Film and Television Scores, 1950-1979 (McFarland, 2008) by Kristopher Spencer, founder of Scorebaby.com.

When considering European sexploitation, Great Britain probably isn’t the first country that comes to mind (except for The Benny Hill Show, a saucy variety comedy hour that premiered in ’69 and ran for 20 years). Compared to relatively liberated countries like Denmark and Sweden, Great Britain hasn’t been a particularly productive sexploitation film exporter. But there are several independent and mainstream British films of the ’60s that reflect in the influence of the sexual revolution...

One British film that deals with sex and the single man is Alfie (’66) that uses frank sexual content to examine the foibles of a promiscuous bachelor. Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David contributed the theme song, but much of the score belongs to Sonny Rollins and his conductor Oliver Nelson. The soundtrack release does not contain the Bacharach tune.

Rollin’s “Alfie’s Theme” captures the main character’s beguiling ways with women through its jaunty tempo and minor key. It’s the sort of theme that winds its way through the listener’s brain long after hearing it. Rollins’ nine-piece band includes such veteran jazz greats as Kenny Burrell (guitar), J.J. Johnson (trombone) and Jimmy Cleveland (trombone). Heard within the film, this jazz score reinforces the sense that Michael Caine’s incorrigible philanderer is constantly improvising his way in and out of trouble. Heard on its own, one might think that Alfie is a merely a wonderful but not especially cinematic jazz record of the ’60s.

No comments:

Post a Comment