THE SOUL OF HOLLYWOOD: the piano and orchestra of JUNIOR MANCE
Great movie themes arranged and conducted by MELBA LISTON
Junior Mance (p) and orchestra conducted by Melba Liston
Never on Sunday (2:43) (Manos Hadjudakis)
Maria (2:45) (Leonard Bernstein) from West Side Story
Tara’s Theme (3:58) (Max Steiner) from Gone with the Wind
Funny (3:57) (Harold Rome)
On Green Dolphin Street (2:31) (Bronislau Kaper)
One-Eyed Jacks (2:29) (Hugo Freidhofer)
Exodus (2:25) (Ernest Gold)
Invitation (4:01) (Bronislau Kaper)
The Apartment (3:31) (Williams-Mora)
Goodbye Again (4:04) (Dorie Langdon)
Spellbound (3:27) (Miklos Rozsa)
The nature of this intriguing, full-bodied and decidedly different album should be immediately made clear by its title. Hollywood - meaning of course music from the movies (even though we know as well as you that not all the films represented here were actually mad eon the outskirts of Los Angeles). Soul – meaning great emotional warmth and depth, with particular emphasis on young pianist featured here, JUNIOR MANCE.
Themes and background scores have long been a very important element of the image and illusion and dram of the motion picture, although it is only fairly recently that such music has moved forward out of the background to become highly popular in its own right in recorded form. But for the most part film music – both on the screen and on records – has tended to be heavily violin-ish, overly lush and on the saccharine side. The exceptions, including some “jazz versions”, have on the other hand too often tended to be excessively harsh and lean. In short, what both extremes have lacked is, above all, soul – valid and expressive musical stimulation and satisfaction.
This album seeks to avoid both sets of pitfalls by combining the earthy and forceful piano of Mance with a group of rich and vibrant arrangements that are always alive, big and never cloying. The result is a fusion of realism and imagination that is, in essence, the musical equivalent of what takes place whenever you see convincing human action and emotion – be it sad or funny, fast or slow – reproduced larger than life-size on the silver screen.
Pianist Julian Mance, Jr., born in Chicago, was a member of several notable jazz groups (Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, etc.) before forming his own highly successful trio. Melba Liston first gained prominence as a trombonist in orchestras led by Gillespie and Quincy Jones, but more recently it has been her considerable arranging skills that have been most widely in demand.
Miss Liston has varied the mod and makeup of the orchestra here to suit the needs of the specific themes, but the basic instrumentation is: trumpets (with some emphasis on the brilliant horn of Clark Terry) and trombone, flutes, clarinet and bass clarinet, English horn, harp and rhythm. This strikingly unusual alignment has been called into service to provide miniature concerti which effectively frame Mance’s solo work. The music, covering a wide range of movies past and present, has been selected on the basis of its being strong enough in structure and interest to meet the demands of this unique album:
Never on Sunday, based on Greek bouzouki music, shows strong signs of becoming a permanent part of the American popular-music scene, having already proven adaptable to many different instrumental and vocal approaches. Since it began life in a film about a very joyously earthy female, it fits with no strain at all into the soulful-earthiness channel carved out for it here. Maria, comes from “West Side Story,” one of the great achievements of the American musical theater as well as of musical film-making. Its composer, of course, is the kaleidoscopically gifted Leonard Bernstein: symphonic and popular music-writer, etc., etc.
Tara’s Theme has in recent years been perpetuated, on New York TV at least, as the introductyory theme for countless old films on “Million Dollar Movie.” Written by Max Stenier, one of Hollywood’s earliest and foremost ‘name’ composers, it was originally used to denote the plantation in a film costing (and earning) several times a million, the celebrated Civil War epic, “Gone with the Wind.” Fanny is from a motion picture that underwent many transatlantic sea-changes: first a classic trilogy of French movies, then a Broadway musical, finally a non-musical film (the Harold Rome songs were converted into the underscore for the picture). On Green Dolphin Street has by now become a frequently-played jazz standard, a status it gained after being recorded by Miles Davis. Thus it may surprise some to learn that it was the theme of a Lana Turner film, where it was not played at all like this. One-Eyed Jacks, directed by actor Marlon Brando, is nominally a Western, but departed so far from the stereotypes of that idiom that its richly melodic theme music can scarcely be identified as referring to the Wild West.
Exodus is of course from Otto Preminger’s movie about Israel. Like the “Never on Sunday” theme, it has already been a hit song more than once. Not too long ago a jazz version became a surprise best-seller; this larger-scale approach could very possibly repeat the process.
The haunting Invitation is the second contribution to this album by one of the more prolific and intriguing of screen composers, Bronislau Kaper, who also wrote the “Green Dolphin Street” theme. The Apartment was designed to be “our song” in Billy Wilder’s bitingly moral (although seemingly immoral) comedy about the contemporary tendency to mix business with pleasure. Since Goodbye Again is the theme music of a movie of a movie taken from the Francoise Sagan novel entitled “Aimez-vous Brahms?”, it employs, appropriately enough, the slow movement from Brahmas’ Third Symphony. It would be hard to criticize the fact that the Liston arrangement admittedly goes “a little closer” to the Brahms source material than the actual movie music did. In Spellbound, as a striking example of her unhackneyed approach, Miss Liston uses the best-known section of Miklos Rozsa’s “Spellbound Concert” only at he end; the earlier portions of the piece as played here are an ingenious interweaving of several themes from the full score of the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
… Clearly enough, the soulful piano of Junior Mance, in the vividly-colored orchestral settings provided by Melba Liston, has extracted a full and most listenably different measure of soul, and heart, from the music of Hollywood.
This recording is available in both Stereophonic (JLP 963) and Monarural (JLP 63) form
Mance can also be heard on such albums as :
The Soulful Piano of Junior Mance (JLP 31; Stereo 931)
Junior Mace Trio at The Village Vanguard (JLP 41; Stereo 941)
Big Chief! (JLP 53; Stereo 953)
Produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York City in October and December, 1961 and January, 1962
Mastered at Plaza Sound by NEAL CEPPOS
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photographs by STEVE SCHAPIRO
JAZZLAND RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street, New York City 36, New York