Too Late Blues

December 26, 2016

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Before listening to a new release I settle back with a cup of tea or coffee and read the liner notes. To my surprise I saw the name Milt Bernhart and being a trombone player I immediately knew who it was and couldn’t wait to hear him. I wasn’t disappointed as there were several tracks where he was featured. The combo of Red Mitchell, Benny Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Uan Rasey, Shelley Manne, Larry Bunker, Tommy Tedesco, and Milt Bernhart take a backseat to no one on the west coast. They play the laid back cool jazz that the west coast was famous for.

The film stars Bobby Darin as a pianist who is stuck in an ideal mode until he falls in love with Stella Stevens. The film was directed and produced by John Cassavetes and he also co-wrote the screenplay. The film came and disappeared quickly with barely a ripple in the lake.

Raksin’s song, “A Song After Sundown,” his second best effort after “Laura,” is first featured in a lush arrangement with singing strings. The jazz combo gets plenty of opportunity to play it in a variety of different rhythms and styles including a vocalise from Jess Polanski, Stella Stevens character in the film.

The material comes from one track mono as well as 3 track stereo material. Raksin wrote all of the music including all source material. You’ll here all different styles of material from Raksin including rhumbas, honky tonk, a somewhat classical version on the piano, blues, and light jazz. In a word sweet.

Seal One Part 1 – Sax Raises Its Ugly Head
Theme from Too Late Blues (A Song After Sundown)
The Rim Shot Heard ’Round the World
Mother Time (Juke Box)
Something Like Noodles/Something Like Bulio/
Something Like That
Heel and Toe – Get Wildroot Hair Oil, Charlie
Bass Canard (short version)

Look Inward, Angel
Danzon
A Song After Sundown
Sambalero
Recording Studio Part 2 – A Song After Sundown
Wither Thou, Ghost!
Blues for Tomorrow
Ulysses in Swanktown
Like Lasagna
Ghost Blows Test
Benny Splits While Jimmy Rowles
Ciudad de Mexico
Wife’s Other John
Finale – The Rim Shot Heard ’Round the World
Bonus tracks
Paramount Seal and Tie-In (alternate version)
Danzon
Ciudad de Mexico
Some Other Time
Benny Splits While Jimmy Rowles (short version)
Look Inward, Angel (combo)
Look Inward, Angel (combo – long version)
The Rim Shot Heard ’Round the World (alternate)
Sambalero
Bass Canard (long version)
Wife’s Other John (extended version)

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I first became familiar with Christopher Wong in 2007 with his score to the film Journey from the Fall, which featured a hauntingly beautiful melody. It is still available as a download directly from the Movie Score Media website as well as his score from The Rebel.

The first track “The Green Grass,” was a bit of a surprise for me as it started off with an acoustic guitar, all harmony before the violin offered the attractive melody along with a continuing of the melody. This melody will appear throughout the score and it will surprise you as it occurs briefly in “Past The Forbidden Trees” and more prominent in “Fishing, Administration and Envy” “The Fable” introduces a new  theme which is offered on the bassoon. This theme continues more prominently on “Grumpy Teacher” and reminds me of the grandfather theme from Peter and the Wolf. The final selection “Thang Cuoi” are the lyrics to the main theme sung in Vietnamese by a charming voice which puts icing on this soundtrack.

If you’re looking for a soundtrack that is laid back and filled with melodies this is one for you. Wong has written a score that has nothing brash or distorted about it. There is no brass only woodwinds, strings and appropriate oriental instruments. There is very little if any pentatone style.

Wong is a composer to be explored if you’ve not yet had the opportunity. Recommended.  

TRACK LISTING

1 The Green Grass 2:13
2 Guilty Rain 1:22
3 Past The Forbidden Tree 2:30
4 The Fable 2:30
5 Grumpy Teacher 2:12
6 Dear Brother 2:12
7 Fishing, Administration and Envy 3:53
8 Flooded 2:19
9 Running Away 1:55
10 Moon Moves 2:21
11 The Days Ahead 3:16
12 The Princess and the Prince 1:53
13 Walking Again 1:15
14 Remembering Dad 1:44
15 The Matter of Loving You 2:53
16 Thang Cuoi 5:09

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When I received this CD from Aevea and put it in my Marantz 4004 I was surprised at the sound I heard as this 66 minute recording unfolded. The sound was bright and clear and while the arrangements were complex in areas they didn’t come off like a piano concerto or showmen type material .Even in  the complex sections you could clearly hear the the melody and the harmony. I think it reminds you of a silent movie piano playing and some of Laurel and Hardy short films were silent so it fits in very nicely with the style. I also think that if you’re not familiar with Laurel and Hardy at all (I doubt you would buy this) the majority of the music plays out like cartoon music which back the silly antics of the pair.

This is a nice edition to the collector of Laurel and Hardy material as well as the occasional watcher. You’ll hear a tune and then try to guess what movie it was from. I don’t think Hal Roach had any idea the following they have along with books, music, toys and other novelties. I don’t know if every short or film is represented but the vast majority of them are.