Dave (
Wed, 19 May 1999 10:24:22 -0700 Interesting idea, what's the soundtrack to Noir and Hardboiled ...

Alot of things have been mentioned, but there is a glaring omission --
the "cutting edge" music that existed contemporaneously -- Bebop, or
modern jazz. Charlie Parker is its greatest practitioner -- check out
the early Savoy material, especially the "Koko" session, originally
called "Charlie Parker's Reeboppers." People called the music
"frantic," which characterized much of the frame of mind of the period.

To me, Noir and Bebop are eternally joined -- in a literal way, since
the modern jazz was created by blacks, hence, "Noir." However, whitey,
as usual, jumped on the bandwagon. Parker and almost all of his
"cohorts" were alcoholics and junkies -- thus they lived a "noir"

The melodies for Bebop tunes were complex and jagged -- the
instrumentation sparce, since there were usually quintets playing it. A
big band has more texture and overt drama, and there were a few big
bands playing it, at the time -- singer Billy Eckstine's band of '44-'46
was the "proto-bop" band, with charts by Dizzy Gillespie, Parker's
musical twin. (Also available on Savoy) Diz used the charts for his own
big bands from '46-'49, which featured Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo,
who was shot in a bar in NYC, I believe -- another "Noir" ending.

In terms of score music, Elmer Bernstein's "The Man With The Golden
Arm," is the ultimate jazz-noir soundtrack -- hard driving, textured,
and evocative. Duke Ellington's "Anatomy Of A Murder" also comes to
mind. Both exist strongly as musical statements, on their own terms ...

I have a problem with contemporary interpretations of Noir music --
since Noir exists inside such a particular time and place. Charlie
Haden's Quartet West seems to be a lightweight exercise in nostalgia.
"Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" and all that stuff is even more jive -- basically
it's retro jump blues, the type played by black R and B bands in the
late forties, but utterly vapid. (Check out Louis Jordan for the real
thing.) These white boys are selling a style -- zoot suits, and fedoras,
etc ... whattevvah ...

Sorry to go on, but my last point relates to the actual recordings --
stereo vs mono ... the soundtrack to noir is strictly mono, and all
those old recordings just sound better than the new ones in stereo.
Techniques were different, and they're just more evocative. Nowadays,
records are made with isolation booths, etc. Back then, the musicians
all sat in the same room. Someone mentioned "Blue Note" recordings --
which a testament to the genius of Rudy Van Gelder -- who recorded them
on 2 track mono! And they kick ass, even today ...



"Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all."
-- Tom Neal, "Detour"

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