Riz Ortolani is one of the few Italian composers to have achieved major success not only in his own country but also in the United States and elsewhere. His score for MONDO CANE which he co-wrote with Nino Olivero gained him much recognition and the song “More” was an international hit and was recorded by hundreds of artists all over the world. Ortolani is one of the most lyrical Italian composers. He creates simple but wonderfully haunting melodies and has the ability to elevate a film’s storyline and scenario to a greater level via the placing of music and the style of music he employs. He is no stranger to police dramas and Giallo films and has scored numerous romantic films and westerns. Many think that Ortolani was not suited for Spaghetti westerns because his music was romantically slanted or at least not as raw and savage as other scores within the genre by other composers. He disproved those ideas when he produced the high energy and action packed theme and score for DAY OF ANGER and THE HUNTING PARTY.
LA FACCI VIOLENTA DI NEW YORK is a score with many styles within its perimeters. The CD begins with a cue that could easily be mistaken for the work of Lalo Schifrin; Ortolani employing bass, punctuated by piano and supported by a backing track of tense sounding percussion which is tense but not overpowering. Track two is the first outing for the central theme and Ortolani begins with a short introduction of strings, then male solo voice is introduced and mirrored by woodwind with punctuation coming from piano. Percussion is added to the equation as voice, woodwind and trumpet work together to bring the central theme more fully into focus. All this is augmented by strings which add a romantic atmosphere, together with the inclusion of guitar – a cue which put me in mind of the style of Francis Lai. The melody is haunting and the orchestration is perfection. Track three is another variation on the central theme and on this occasion the composition is led by solo guitar, which is then joined by subdued trumpet and underlying strings with piano and percussion creating a mid tempo beat. The score relies greatly on the central theme but Ortolani manages to create new edges to the composition on each outing and arranges and orchestrates it with a freshness and a vibrant musicality so that it remains interesting and above all entertaining. Track five is a nice lounge or easy listening jazz led piece in which the composer makes good and effective use of piano, bass, organ, electric guitar and brushed percussion, creating a club-like atmosphere. Track six is another laid back composition with guitar taking the reins whilst being supported by percussion and piano. Jumping ahead to the final cue, track nineteen is the final cue and is a particularly attractive version of the central theme, performed on a lazy sounding trumpet with luxurious strings supporting and embracing it. The trumpet fades and the strings come into play more prominently with a beautiful working of the theme, bringing the music to a close. The style here is similar to Ortolani’s haunting theme for THE VALACHI PAPERS – lush and emotive.
The score contains some dramatic and tense compositions which I suppose must be taken for granted in a film of this genre but Ortolani also creates numerous relaxed and highly poignant moments within the score which makes for a highly rewarding listen. The composer also makes effective use of Spanish guitar throughout the work and which is a reference to one of the main characters from the film. This score is perfect for lovers of jazzy cool tracks, laid back easy listening music, action cues which are tense, along with romantically laced compositions. In fact there is something for everyone here. The soundtrack for LA FACCIA VIOLENTA DI NEW YORK has certain affiliations with American scores for films of a similar style and the liner notes make appropriate comparisons to Don Ellis’s FRENCH CONNECTION scores and Schifrin’s DIRTY HARRY. There are also moments which evoke Luis Bacalov’s WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY and, of course, there is also definitely some original Ortolani in there as well. This is a very entertaining soundtrack and one which I recommend.