The Film Music of Phillip Lambro

August 22, 2011

To soundtrack collectors Phillip Lambro will always be remembered for his rejected score to Chinatown which I understand is available in what I would call the underworld of scores. There is no official release of the material. I consider Lambro to be one of many neglected American composers who has yet to be given the recognition he deserves. This CD release from Perseverance (PRD 021) will give one an opportunity to hear a sampling of his work.

Mineral King, the first of three documentaries included on this CD, dealt with the proposed opening of a ski resort by Walt Disney. As a result of the film the proposed area became part of Sequoia National Park. Narrated by Burgess Meredith this eight track score opens with a lonely trumpet not unlike Copland. It is followed by a short statement, funeral like, before the trumpet ends the track. “Vanishing Wilderness” offers piano, played by Lambro, dissonant strings with the melody from the flute. It is highlighted by short phrases from several instruments. “Fowlers Rush” is a somewhat distorted melody well orchestrated featuring Thomas Stevens, principal trumpet for the L.A. Philharmonic. “The Old Country Road” is a banjo solo from jazz guitarist Joe Pass who offers a rather unique folksy melody. “Early Era” is a very brief sad statement. “Miners Tune” is a brief melody from harmonica player George Fields that one might hear in the old west. “Mineral King and Trumpet Voluntary are in three parts. The harmonica offers the main theme, the same as track one, with woodwinds offering background support. The second section is piano, percussion, and flute with the strings performing one long continuous note. It ends as the work began with the lonely trumpet. “The Wilderness Death Knell” is a closing statement from Emil Richards on bass drum indicating what could happen to the environment. This score has an overall western feeling and is scored for small orchestra. It represents what one can do to effectively convey a mood without the assistance of a 100 piece symphony orchestra.

If you think Father Pat, the second documentary, has a religious message you’re right. A church bell begins the majestic “Main Title” immediately identifying the type of film. This documentary was scored for a larger orchestra and the entire soundtrack has a saintly feel to it. “The Lean Years” is a beautiful Irish melody performed by the strings. “TB, Cure, and Commitment” is deeply moving in the first part, solo percussion in the second, and a very powerful third part. It could easily be played in church as part of services.

Celebration, the third documentary, offers the listener a wonderful accordion Italian melody conjuring up thoughts of spaghetti and meatballs, a glass of red wine, and steaming hot bread. A nice example of what we want to think of what Italy is like.

Git is a film score to a film that has the honor of being on the 100 worst film lists. I’ve never seen it and likely will never in the future. Lambro took the same approach as Bronislau Kaper which was the film was sick and how can I make it well with my music.

“Main theme: No Drums, No Trumpet is a solo guitar from Laurindo Almedia which makes you think of a romantic dinner with a special friend, soft light from the candle on the table, and a full moon outside. Well miked and played Almedia is a professional and this track reinforces that. “Rock Kills Snake” is underscore with trumpets providing the tension for the scene. “Boy Meets Girl/Dog Training Session,” the rest of the track offers a western melody from the strings followed by a light theme with violin plucking and woodwinds. “No Drums, No Trumpet” is a repeat of the main title with the flute given center stage and background support from Almedia. “Interlude” the second part of the track is dramatic underscore with clarinets and oboe. A brief reference to the main title from a horn and the brass provide the ending with eerie chords along with the modest string section. Dissonant trumpets fanfare followed by staccato from the horns on “Sage and Rock Fight,” another underscore track. “Love Theme” comes from the flute with woodwinds and strings in the background which provide the romantic touch.

Phillip Lambro is definitely an American composer to be explored further. Repeated listens to this fine CD enhance the listening experience further. In addition to this release Perseverance also offers Crypt of the Living Dead (PRD 009), and Murph the Surf (PRD 014).

Track Listing:

Mineral King

1… Trumpet Voluntary & Westward Expansion (1:58)

2… Vanishing Wilderness (2:07)

3… Fowler’s Rush (1:32)

4… The Old Country Road (1:40)

5… The Early Era (0:35)

6… Miner’s Tune (0:38)

7… Mineral King & Trumpet Voluntary (3:46)

8… The Wilderness Death Knell (1:36)

Father Pat

9… Main Title (0:45)

10… Pray Today! (1:38)

11… The Lean Years/Arrival in Scranton (2:15)

12… TB, Cure, and Commitment To God (3:51)


13… The Rosary Crusade (1:23)

14… The 2nd Vatican Council (1:30)

15… The Immaculate Purpose (0:48)

16… End Title (2:27)


17… Main Title (0:58)

18… Distant Land (1:04)

19… San Gennaro Italian Celebration (2:18)

20… Statement & End Titles (2:22)


21… Main Theme: No Drums, No Trumpets

22… Rock Kills Snake/Boy Meets Girl/Dog Training Session (1:34)

23… No Drums, No Trumpets/Interlude

24… Sage & Rock Fight (1:07)

25… Love Theme (1:19)

Total Time is 43:46

Perseverance PRD 021





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