Daktari/Shelly Manne

April 17, 2008

 

It isn’t often that one gets the opportunity to talk to one of the musicians who performs on a soundtrack recorded in 1968 but this was the case with the Daktari score. It just happened that Mike Wofford, the pianist, lives locally and this reviewer was fortunate enough to be able to ask and kindly receive the answers to a few questions.

Daktari

was a television show which aired from 1966-69, was based on a film Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion from 1965, and both starred Marshall Thompson. Developed by Ivan Tors, known for his nature programs, both the film and television series were based on the work of Dr. Harthoorn, a tireless campaigner of animal rights and the inventor of the capture gun used to sedate them.

Shelly Manne, drummer supreme from the jazz world, was likely given this assignment because of his knowledge of percussion and his study of African music. He was quite familiar with soundtrack material being the drummer of choice for Mancini, Bernstein, and others. There are only a handful of scores that Manne has his name on, but this one is by far his best endeavor due to the fantastic percussion sounds Shelly created. It certainly wasn’t the one word lyrics (they only say Daktari) to the main title! From the tack piano which was made especially for this session (yes they do use tacks on the hammers in the piano), to (5) percussionists who played ankle and wrist jingles, Thailand mouth organs, aungloongs, ocarinas, vibes, tympani, and wood blocks, to the solos of Shank on sax, Strozier on flute, and Candoli on trumpet, this is a jazz/african style score. Leaving no stone unturned the percussion instruments would not be complete without bell plates struck and then dipped into water to change the tonality and of course marimbas that Richards made from leftover pieces of wood that he had from building his patio! To complete the ensemble they had “nickel whistles” now called “mannehandled” ones which had 5 times the tonal range when Shelly got through with them. Seems like they had so much fun back then.

“Stay With Me” is a lush romantic track in the South American style of the time without any strings but with some very nice sax work from Shank and Strozier on flute. One could easily be reminded of something that Schifrin or Mancini did during the 60’s. Today it would be considered be lounge music but we thought differently back then. “Clarence” is a whimsical track where Manne let out all of the stops and used the full array of percussion available to him. “Out on a Limb” has some really nice flute work from Strozier in addition to a really infectious melody. Don’t think that there is anything wrong with your speakers on “Wameru” as unusual sounds abound from a variety of different locations and directions!

While all of the compositions are original Manne, he got excellent support from Dick Hazard in the arranging department. Richard, who was known for his fine string arranging, really did a nice job even with the lack of strings save the percussion and bass. This is not the typical free form of jazz from Manne but material that is a lot more structured. However if percussion has your interest this is one of the must have for your collection. The original Atlantic (SD 8157) LP is available on CD on the Collectable label (COL-CD 6834) which also includes (7) Peter Gunn tracks Shelly recorded with his ensemble in 1967. Recommended

Golden Score Rating ***1/2

Track Listing:

1. Daktari/Main Theme (2:14)

2. Out On A Limb (3:04)

3. Clarence (2:18)

4. Africa (3:11)

5. Stay With Me (2:48)

6. Elephantime (2:21)

7. Wameru (2:56)

8. Toto (2:44)

9. Galloping Giraffes (3:11)

10. Judy Judy (2:37)

11. Ivan (2:27)

12. Rhino Trot (1:51)

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One Response to “Daktari/Shelly Manne”


  1. […] sdtom wrote an interesting post today on Daktari/Shelly ManneHere’s a quick excerptFrom the tack piano which was made especially for this session (yes they do use tacks on the hammers in the piano), to (5) percussionists who played ankle and wrist jingles, Thailand mouth organs, aungloongs, ocarinas, vibes, tympani, … […]


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