Synanon & Enter Laughing/Hefti and Jones
December 23, 2011
If a person hadn’t heard Enter Laughing or Synanon the conclusion you might draw is that one is depressing and serious music (Synanon) and the other whimsical and fun (Enter Laughing). You’d only be half right as Synanon is full of jazz and fun music also. Perhaps I was mislead because Synanon has to do with drug rehabilitation. Even though I was a fan of Hefti dating back to “Li’l Darling when he worked for the Basie band, this was one soundtrack that I completely missed along with ever seeing the film. The same scenario held true for Enter Laughing and Quincy Jones, another composer I’ve followed over the years, my first album being Jones playing Henry Mancini. In fact after several spins of this last release of 2011 for Kritzerland (20020-9) I can tell you that the scores have many things in common. Both composers offered strong main title jazz roots material with a memorable melody, good arranging, excellent use of the keyboard (organ and harpsichord), and clever use of previously written compositions orchestrated for their respected sounds.
SYNANON’S opening main title “Zanke” opens with a melody coming from the organ with drums and bass in the background. The bass trombone with its unique growling sound is added with string harmony to compliment the organ which continues to play the laid back blues theme. Trumpets come into play also offering the melody with harmony now coming from the strings and organ. It ends with a short riff from the trombones. “The Perfect Beginning” offers a new tune featuring the sax backed by guitar and percussion. An improvisational sax, organ, and guitar solos follow with the track ending as it began with the sax playing the melody in an upbeat cue. “Blues for Hopper” is a jazzy cue that features the sax first offering the melody and then a honking improve solo before returning to the melody all nicely done in harmony with the organ. “Hope” is back to the bluesy pace with sax offering the melody followed by a nice organ solo, a short statement from the sax before it ends as it began with the sax playing the melody. “Tonight’s The Night” offers an upbeat nursery rhyme lullaby variation of the main theme with a little wa-wa from the trombone as harmony. “Open House” is another jazz melody which offers a nice toe stomping organ solo.”Put Your Little Foot” returns to the “Tonight’s The Night” theme with the organ offering the theme followed by horns and string also a part of the arrangement. “Zankie” is another orchestration of the main theme with sax playing the melody followed by guitar solo supported by the organ. “Whiffenpoof Song” is a traditional melody sung by a similar sounding chorus to “Open House.” For your information Whiffenpoof is the name of the Yale collegiate coppella and this is like a theme song for the school. The all too brief Hefti score has a nice clear sound with excellent performances from the organ, sax, guitar, and horns. It is the typical sounding stereo of the era that featured this wide stereo sound with individual instruments coming from one channel only.
ENTER LAUGHING, the Quincy Jones offering on this CD has more of a popular sounding big band dance style as it begins with an upbeat main melody repeated from the clarinet, strings, brass, and harpsichord; an arrangement that depicts the swinging brass of the 60’s where the entire orchestra participates nicely in the arrangement that depicts the sound of the comedy film in the 60’s. It is an autobiography of Carl Reiner. This won’t be the first time you’ll hear “Enter Laughing” as it is a significant amount of the score. “Exit Crying” offers another melody, somewhat romantic with the harpsichord playing a significant role in this very danceable track. Don’t let the track title fool you on this one! “Pennies from Heaven” is orchestrated to sound like an older arrangement with Carl Reiner sounding like a victrola recording. “David Dooze It” is comical underscore that is mixed in with the “Entering Laughing” theme. Mel Carter singing and Jones offering a somewhat Dixieland arrangement of the “Enter Laughing” theme followed by an instrumental version of the same melody in a laid back romantic orchestration. The Tin Pan Alley style returns in “Ha-Cha-Cha” featuring Carl Reiner and an unknown female vocalist. A wonderful uplifting jazz arrangement of the Strauss Sailor Waltz featuring some nice brass and piano work in “Vienna Wails” would put a smile on Johann’s face. “I Hear You Calling” is another version of “Enter Laughing” big band style with some wailing sax work. Mel Carter ends the CD with a straight dance style version of “Enter Laughing.” The sound is clear and crisp but also suffers from the wide separation stereo used by the companies in the 60’s.
Bruce continues to unearth some excellent material that is definitely worth having in your collection. It is nice to see Hefti getting recognition for something other than the mono word Batman song as well as composer Quincy Jones another composer who made a valuable contribution to Hollywood.