AN INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER JOE KRAEMER.

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Am I am right in thinking you began your scoring career with CARTOON SUSHI which was a TV project from 1997, how did you become involved with this particular project?

I began my career scoring an independent feature film shot on super 8 in 1986 called THE CHIMING HOUR, directed by Scott Storm. I followed that up with a second feature called WHISPER FROM THE MOUNTAIN, which starred Bryan Singer. During the 80’s I scored many student films for Bryan and other friends. One of these was a claymation short called “Smile” by Scott Storm, which ended up being broadcast as part of CARTOON SUSHI.

You did one more TV project in 1997, which was entitled FINAL DECISION, when scoring a TV series as opposed to a feature film what would you identify as the main differences between the two?

FINAL DECISION was a feature film, about 90 minutes long. I don’t know if it was somehow repurposed as a TV show. In any case, I don’t think there is a fundamental difference between the art of scoring shorts vs. features vs. TV. The big differences are in the budget and other resources available, live orchestra vs. samples for example.

 

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You have also worked on a number of shorts, do you think it is probably more difficult working on a movie that is quite short induration, by this I mean is it harder to develop the themes or principal cues in a short period of time.

In my experience, film music works best when the themes are instantly memorable and recognizable. That doesn’t change between a feature and a short.

 

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THE WAY OF THE GUN was a movie you scored in 2002, which is one of my favourite action scores, the music I think aided the movie a great deal, were you given any specific instructions by the director on how the music should sound or where indeed it should be placed?

The liner notes I wrote for the CD in 2000 detail this better than my own memory can recall now, but as I remember it, Christopher McQuarrie outlined things he didn’t want in the score, and one by one, I violated all these preconceptions to come up with the final score. The spotting of music evolved over the post-production process. I remember Mc Q didn’t want a lot of score and the execs at Artisan wanted it wall-to-wall.

What size orchestra did you use for THE WAY OF THE GUN?

It was about 45 players supplemented with some samples, piano, additional harps, additional timpani, etc. Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon, French Horns, Trombones, Tuba, Harp, percussionist and strings.

What musical education did you receive and were any of your family musically inclined?

I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Film Scoring. My whole family is musically inclined to some degree. My dad and my uncle were hobbyist songwriters and record-makers, so I grew up in a creative environment and access to musical equipment like synthesizers, sequencers, and four-track recorders.

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Was music something that you were always attracted to and were you also always focused upon writing music for film?

I was always into music, from a very young age, even film music. The first two albums I bought when I was a kid were MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR and the soundtrack to SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. I didn’t really focus on pursuing film composing as a career until I discovered the film music program at Berklee.

According to a certain website that lists your credits, you are working on the up and coming MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, MI 6. As a producer is Tom Cruise involved in any way when it comes to the style of the score or the spotting process?

I have no idea if I’m working on the next MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or not. No one has said anything to me about it. I can say however, that on MI5, Tom Cruise was very involved in setting the tone of the final score, and also contributed actively to the spotting process.

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What would you say is the purpose of music in a movie?

Hopefully, it is enhancing the audience’s emotional connection to the film without hitting them over the head. Sometimes, it helps smooth out rough portions of a film or covers shaky performances by the cast, or the writing, or directing. I always hope that when the whole project is complete, listening to the score on its own, away from the film, still tells the story of the film in the listener’s mind.

Orchestration is an important part of the composing process for many composers, are you able to do your own orchestrations on the majority of your projects or is it sometimes not possible with deadlines looming etc?

I always think orchestrally and make as many orchestration decisions as I can while I’m composing the cues for the films I score. But I do also value the contributions an orchestrator makes to the process, and I also need that second set of eyes to look things over. Sometimes stuff has to be written so quickly for a film that having a shorthand with an orchestrator helps save time. However, I write every note of my scores myself. I don’t use the orchestrators to ghost write. And my cues are composed orchestrally in midi-mock ups. I do not just write a melody with chords and give that to the orchestrator.

 

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In the all of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie’s the original theme has always been retained in some form or another, do you think with a franchise such as Mission Impossible it is important to continue to use the theme or at least permutations or arrangements of it. I ask this because the latest MAN FROM UNCLE movie score had no traces of the original theme by Jerry Goldsmith, which many fans were disappointed about?

I think it is fun to incorporate the previous themes into a new instalment of a franchise. I understand some filmmakers and composers who decide not to do that, but to me, it is part of what makes working on a franchise film enjoyable. I liken it to an actor who revels doing Hamlet and being able to put their own spin on it. One doesn’t want to do franchise films exclusively, just as an actor doesn’t want to do only Shakespeare.

 

 

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Staying with THEMES or the lack of them, in contemporary movies there seems to be a definite absence of strong themes, even main title sequences are not scored how they were, do you think that the job of the composers has changed a great deal since say the 1960,s and 1970,s and is it at times more sound design as opposed to actual music composition that some are performing?

Yes, I do. I believe it stems from the influx of rock musicians who have essentially taken over film music in Hollywood. Significantly fewer composers come from any kind of classical background than in generations past. That, coupled with the explosion of low-budget indie film making, has created an aesthetic that is based more around what I call “tonal sound design” than proper score.

 

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When you were offered MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROUGUE NATION, was the movie temp tracked when you first viewed it and do you think the temp track is a useful tool for the composer or can it sometimes be a hard act to follow if the director has fallen in love with it?

I think it depends. MI5 was not temped when I saw it, and in fact, I didn’t see any footage with temp until very late in the process of working on the film. Christopher McQuarrie only uses temp for test screenings and does his best to keep me away the temp. He really dislikes when a score is just a rehash of a temp. So on his films, temp is a necessary evil that has been kept as minimal as possible. On the opposite side, I’ve just scored a documentary where the temp score proved a really helpful way for the director, producer, and I to all get on the same page for the musical needs of the film. So, as I say, it depends.

 

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Do you conduct all of your scores, or is it better do you think to be able to watch and listen to the scoring sessions from the control box?

I conduct my scores every chance I get. It is nice to be in the booth, it’s certainly less tiring, but I really that conducting myself generates a different energy with the musicians. I am very invested in the music since I wrote it, while a hired conductor is doing his or her job, very capably and excellently, but without perhaps that personal connection.

 

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How much time did you have to write the music for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROUGE NATION and where did you record the score?

I spent 4 months’ total working on MI5, but the majority of the music heard in the film was written in a period of about 3 weeks. There was a period of exploration between the director and I where we tried a bunch of different ideas, some of them quite a departure from expectations, before we settled on the final approach. We recorded the score at Abbey Road studios and British Grove studios, both in London.

THE MYSTERY WOMAN series was made by Hallmark and had eleven episodes or instalments, there were a number of directors involved, is it difficult to work on a series that has multi directors, as I am guessing each has their own individual ideas about music?

Sadly, in TV, the director is much more of a hired gun than in film, so almost all of the TV work I did was really with the producers more than the directors. The directors were probably given a mandate from the producers to make each instalment similar to the previous rather than each one being a departure from the last. That was my brief as composer.

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When a score is going to receive a compact disc release, do you select the cues that will be representing the score, or is this decided by the film company or record label?

Usually I do it. If there are a lot of songs in the film, such as a film I did called DAWN PATROL, the label handles the songs.

 

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What composers of film scores would you say have inspired you or influenced you?

John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Hermann, David Shire, John Barry and Elmer Bernstein.

When spotting a movie do you like to watch it through a number of times before you decide what style of music you will employ and where it will be best placed to serve the needs of the film?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes I know right away what it needs. Sometimes I try a few things before I discover what’s best. Often, if the film has been temped, I’m simply asked to follow the temp, so there really is no need to decide what kind of music to use.

 

 

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At what stage of the proceedings do you like to become involved, for example do you prefer to be on board as it were as early as possible with a script, or is it better for you to start your involvement at the rough cut stage?

I prefer to come on after the film is locked, but that’s usually too late these days so I have to come on earlier. I generally don’t read the script or look at dailies, or stuff like that, because it doesn’t really reflect what the actual film will be. I like to see the film for the first time as close to its final form as possible given the time available.

Do you have a set routine of working when scoring a picture, do you for example begin with the main cues and then attend to smaller pieces as in stabs etc, or do you work through the picture from start to finish?

I generally watch the film as much as possible before I write a note of score. Perhaps a dozen times, or more. I try to really understand every scene in the film, every character’s motivations, the dramatic themes of the film, the emotional arc. Then I begin explorations, sometimes at the piano, often just in my imagination. The hoped-for result of these explorations is a roster of themes that I can use to score the film. Once I have the necessary blocks to build the score, I sit down and work through the film from beginning to end. As I score the film, I will come up with new material which I then go back and incorporate in earlier cues during the rewrite/finalising process. I try to work in 2 minutes’ blocks of film.

 

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Before JACK REACHER and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE you had worked on smaller movies and TV projects was it difficult to begin working on more high profile projects?

Not really, as I say, it’s all just writing music that properly reflects what’s on screen. If anything, big movies are easier because there is less compromise in achieving the sounds in my head.

Many thanks to Joe Kraemer for his time and interest in MMI.
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FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES. THE FIRST GATHERING,SEPTEMBER 24TH 2016.

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It’s been a long time since I went to a gathering or meeting of any type concerning film music, and it’s been even longer since I enjoyed it so much. Today September 24th 2016 I will remember for a long time, it was the first gathering of FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES organised by Tim Smith and James Fitzpatrick, guest composers in attendance were TREVOR JONES, MARK THOMAS, DEBBIE WISEMAN, CHRISTOPHER GUNNING and DANIEL PEMBERTON. All of whom were in a word wonderful, I loved the way that all of them were so relaxed and also so forthcoming with their thoughts and opinions about film music, scoring films and the art and craft of what they do. The last time I attended such a function must have been way back in the 1990, s when it was organised by either THE GOLDSMITH SOCIETY or John Williams of SILENTS AND SATELITTES and early editions of MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES fame. I Seem to recall a few of these SEMINARS as they were called being held at the BONNIGTON hotel in London, but that is by the way. Today’s event was well organised and it ran so smoothly at least that’s what I witnessed, the only hiccups being Tim Smith’s nerves I think, which is understandable when organising something like this, but he handled it very well and made everyone welcome.

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Mr Smith   Looking a little apprehensive.

 

It was also a time to put faces to Facebook (other social medias are available) conversations which was also really nice and it was something of a reunion for myself with fellow soundtrack collector Jerry Daley being there and of course talking with Trevor Jones and Chris Gunning after a break of more than a few years, Trevor remarked that is was the sessions for HIDEAWAY when we last saw each other in the flesh as it were.

Trevor Jones and Christopher Gunning.
Trevor Jones and Christopher Gunning.

Held at the renowned ANGEL recording studios in Upper Street Islington, this was an afternoon that I know many will be thinking of for a long while. Tim Smith took to the floor at around two o clock, and spoke to the gathered fifty or so attendees, briefly explained the fire drill then went on to introduce the host for the afternoon, the well know record producer and passionate film music fan James Fitzpatrick, many of us in attendance of course remember buying LP records off of James when he was behind the counter and managing the sadly missed 58 DEAN STREET RECORDS, and then he was one of the driving forces behind SILVA SCREEN initiating that labels foray into re-recordings of soundtracks which included the first release of music from Hammer films for example and renditions of themes from movies such as WITCHFINDER GENERAL, NIGHT OF THE DEMON, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and full score reconstructions and re-recordings of soundtracks such as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA,THE BIG COUNTRY etc. James is now the boss at TADLOW MUSIC producing so many exquisite re-recordings and releases of excellent film music and providing orchestras for composers on various projects.

 

 James Fitzpatrick.
James Fitzpatrick.

 

His attention to detail and also achieving high quality recordings is second to none, and I believe he is a Master of his particular craft and a person who does not shout about his achievements as in blow his own trumpet (forgive the pun). James made a brief introduction, and also then introduced the guests for the afternoon, it was at this point we were treated to something of a sneak preview from an up and coming release on TADLOW, which is Miklos Rozsa’s classic soundtrack for THE THIEF OF BAHGDAD, which like all of TADLOW’S releases sounded magnificent, it was fantastic to hear the music and also see the orchestra conducted by Nic Raine perform.

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After the cue had concluded James started things off with a question to the guests about if they thought film music composition was an art or a craft. Debbie Wiseman began the responses, followed by Mark Thomas, Trevor Jones and then Christopher Gunning and Daniel Pemberton, all explained their idea of composition being an art or craft very differently, but I thought basically they all more or less agreed that it was part art part craft, which then segued into discussing other topics that were related to being a composer of film music, this spontaneity by the guests who were happy to chat about almost anything without being prompted for me made the afternoon even more interesting and enjoyable. We learnt that Daniel Pemberton is working on another movie by Guy Ritchie which is a KING ARTHUR film, and also that when he feels he has got something right as in writing a particular cue does a little dance around his flat, which as Debbie Wiseman remarked is an image that will linger in her head for a while.

 Daniel Pemberton.
Daniel Pemberton.

 

There were also questions from the audience, which were very interesting enquiries and also the responses from the assembled guest were too as interesting if not more so. It’s surprising that although they all work in the same field they all seem to have different approaches to the actual mechanics of writing the scores, some preferring the more classical and time honoured approach of manuscript and pencil others using the more technical options that are available, which then led to explanations from Trevor Jones about certain software that became available to the composer back in the late 80’s etc, which made it either easier or more of a headache for them to score films. He also spoke of the switch almost overnight from analogue too digital which gave him more than one headache in the studio.

Trevor Jones.
Trevor Jones.

We did have a short break for refreshments and this gave members of the audience a chance to chat amongst themselves and also with the composers, it was at this point the first raffle was held and the winners (not me, I was one away, but I am ok honestly) were given generous goodie bags of compact discs which were given freely by TADLOW, MOVIE SCORE MEDIA, CALDERA and SILVA SCREEN, there were also FANS OF MOVIE MUSIC mugs on sale a snip at £6.95 and then we had a second raffle for a poster advertising the event signed by all the guests.

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More questions and answers followed and it became apparent that Christopher Gunning was shall we say a little tired of scoring films and TV as he had been writing what was is called by some “serious” music as in concertos and symphonies for concert hall performance, Christopher was relieved that he never had a deadline or a director and producer peering over his shoulder all the time, but then he said when writing his symphony at times he had wished he could phone up a particularly difficult director and ask him to come round and stand behind him and give him a hard time so he could actually write some music.

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Debbie Wiseman told us how she got into the business and how after working on a series such as FATHER BROWN that if a different director was brought in it would be them that had to adapt to her music simply because she had written so many established themes for that series and had been there since the offset. So that was a different perspective, as its normally the composer that has to adapt their music for anything that the director might want to do. All of the composers told stories of either directors or producers that were shall we say difficult, Christopher Gunning remembering to be asked to score POIROT but not include the established and award winning theme for the series, (which everyone knows and loves) Gunning told us that he tried to introduce the theme when he could at one point turning the music upside down.

Chris Gunning.
Chris Gunning.

 

Daniel Pemberton recalling the time he scored a documentary about Hiroshima, one of the greatest losses of human life in the 20th Century and when it got to the part in the film where the bomb had been dropped and there was utter desolation and destruction, the executives on the film telling him that his music was to down beat and sombre. Mark Thomas being asked to score a section of film with music like the music in the chariot race scene in BEN HUR, and then realising there is no music in that sequence, “So that was easy” he said. Time unfortunately was running out and we had to stop, but then we were allowed to ask the guests to sign CD covers etc. Which they did and gave their time generously stopping to talk to each and every person about the cover they had selected and their love of movie music, the signings were accompanied by some great music and images of orchestra performing at various TADLOW recording sessions.

Mark Thomas.
Mark Thomas.

Overall it was a great success, there were no awkward silences, no silly questions, it was just a good experience that had an easy going atmosphere with all of the composers being quite laid back and forthcoming with snippets of information and various stories of good, bad and ugly situations that they had encountered in their careers. (Chris Gunning was very open and frank) which was very amusing and interesting. I hope that this is an event that will be repeated and become an annual occurrence, we have to thank TIM SMITH who initiated this and also James Fitzpatrick who helped immensely in it coming to fruition, we also have to say a big thank you to all of the composers for their time and also their interest in the people who buy soundtracks and too all the FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES team for being there making the day go well, plus a big thank you to Phil Watkins for taking all of those great photographs, some of which I have with his permission used in this article. marks out of 10, I give it an 11.

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Just one thing left to say ENCORE,,,,, Looking forward to FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES 2.

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THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI.

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Going back a little way to 2001 for this particular soundtrack which was up until last year unavailable as a commercial release outside of Thailand. It’s one of those soundtracks that one has in the collection but sad to say seems to forget about it, only playing it once in a blue moon, but each time one does give it an airing you think “WHY don’t I play this more often”? The movie is THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI which is a beautiful and epic production directed and written by Chatrichalerm Yukol who is a member of the Thai Royal family, for many years the authorities in Thailand were a little annoyed that films such as THE KING and I and the more recent ANNA AND THE KING were made but did not tell the true facts about certain events that occurred in Thai history, thus these are banned for public screenings in the country.

So the story goes that the director (who himself has Royal Blood) was at a state dinner and was asked by the Queen of the Thailand why he could not make a good movie about the history of his own country, the film maker took this to be a command from his Monarch and set about writing and directing what was to become  THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI. Three years later his task was completed and the movie was released. The finished film is indeed a triumph and no mean fete as the director was not accustomed to making such grand scale films. The story begins with Suriyothai, who is a young and beautiful princess being betrothed to Prince Thienraja, who is a virtuous and kind person but also rather boring and dull as far as the Princess is concerned. She decides that she would rather be with her childhood friend, Lord Srithep, but sacrifices her own desires and happiness for the good of the Kingdom. This is the first of a series of difficult decisions she is called upon to make. As the movie and storyline progresses we begin to see Thailand as a country with a beautiful and sophisticated culture which is every bit the equal of the Japan of that era, but under stress from rebellious provinces and foreign invaders, but after a number of royal deaths from disease, disasters, and even assassination brings about a dynastic struggle in which the young Princess organizes a rebellion against a usurper that brings her husband to the throne. She then has to go into battle against the Burmese who decide to take advantage of the state of confusion within Thailand, clad in armour and riding an elephant she helps her husband defeat the invaders.

The film which was originally a four-hour saga was edited down to 185 minutes for its release outside of Thailand, and because of this is at times somewhat disjointed, but it remains easy to follow and is certainly a movie that  intrigues and grips any watching audience irrespective of Nationality. The movie is thoughtfully photographed and a lot of work has gone into shooting the movie is some stunning settings, it contains some exciting and highly authentic battle scenes with jousting from the back of elephants being seen at one point and also an impressive and highly dramatic battle in which river galleys are used. This is a wonderfully set movie, which engrosses  and entertains throughout its entire duration, it is filled with dark betrayal, intrigue and ambition and  is a rare insight into the colourful and somewhat bloody history of Thailand. The musical score is not as one might think by a Thai composer but is written by Richard Harvey who has worked on a number of highly successful British TV dramas which include COLDITZ, G.B.H, JAKES PROGRESS and SHROUD FOR A NIGHTINGALE amongst others. He once had a highly fruitful collaborative partnership with composer Stanley Myers and contributed to scores such as THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE HONORARY CONSUL as well as writing his own music for FIRST AMONG EQUALS, TERRAHAWKS and HALF MOON STREET. His music for THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI is in a word “MAGNIFICENT”, it is brimming with eloquent and affecting themes which entice and enrapture the listener, a fully symphonic score that literally overflows with wonderfully lush and lavish sounding themes this is a score that cannot fail to please any collector of fine movie music. Harvey utilises to great effect soprano voice which is underlined and supported by strings and lilting woodwind at times creating a haunting and mesmerising work. Even the vocals within the score are worth listening to which is something I rarely say in reviews, but these are so strong, well-written and performed in Thai and English that they have to be brought to your attention. I love the way in which the composer creates beguiling themes via the string and brass sections and although this is a Thai movie he seems to score it in a very western way, yes there are a number of oriental or Eastern sounding nuances and passages but it is scored in such a fashion that these fuse almost seamlessly with the composers more conventional approach to scoring the picture. The movie is a triumph and Harvey’s soundtrack too is Majestic and alluring. Highly recommended, if you can get a copy please buy it now.

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1. The Court of Ayuthaya 3.18
2. For the Heart of a Princess 2.15
3. A Nation’s Honour 3.41
4. The Gates of Hell – Siege 4.14
5. The Hand of Fate 3.24
6. A Royal Tribute 2.45
7. Deadly Enchantment 1.28
8. The Poisoning of King Chai 4.30
9. Under Cover of Darkness – Assassins! 3.07
10. Eternal Flower 2.32
11. War’s Tragedy 3.20
12. The Death of a Hero 2.03
13. Lord Piren’s Pledge 4.17
14. A Vision of Fear 1.32
15. Queen Suriyothai’s Destiny 2.41
16. Love and Remembrance 2.52
17. Now and Forever. Suriyothai 5.48

THE NICE GUYS.

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John Ottman is certainly one of the shining stars and talents within the area of film music composition, he is another one of these composers that can turn their hand to almost any scenario musically speaking and create the right solutions for any occurrence that is created by the filmmakers. Ottman’s credits are varied and always entertaining and interesting, one of his most recent scoring assignments is for THE NICE GUYS, now this is movie that is set in Los Angeles in the 1970, s and stars Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling as two rather unlikely private investigators who go in search of a missing Porn star. Directed by Shane Black whose IRON MAN 3 kind of put the cat amongst the Pidgeon’s with audiences being left not knowing if they liked it or loathed it. (I liked it). The music is suitably seventies in its sound and style and at times even echo’s or gives acknowledgement to such classic scores as BULLIT, DIRTY HARRY and to a degree GET CARTER. Breathy and sensual woods entice the listener into the work, as the composers John Ottman and David Buckley create a veritable smorgasbord of funky and groovy sounds that are far out and totally awesome. It’s a score that entertains and captures one’s attention straight away, right from the off the composers have you hooked on the steamy and jazz infused compositions, THE NICE GUYS THEME is certainly a nod in the direction of the great Lalo Schifrin, and has to it an air of the shifting gears track from that composers BULLIT soundtrack, but it also has to it a highly thematic core performed on horns and other brass which is interspersed and supported by percussion, I would even go as far as to say that it also has certain similarities to Schifrin’s MURDERS ROW and hints of Goldsmith’s FLINT scores. In fact, FLINT type themes just ooze from the proceedings in the cues, TO THE CAR SHOW/AMELIA and KIDS TODAY, tracks 2 and 3 respectively. Track number 5 PORNOCCHIO is one of my personal favourites, it’s a somewhat laid back affair initially that just purveys sleaze somehow, how you define sleaze musically I am not certain but it just conjures up that type of atmosphere. Also take a listen to track number 7, EQUANIMITY, nice vibes being created by woodwind and underlying strings, which suddenly halt in their tracks to segue into a cue that is not tense but certainly more apprehensive sounding than the initial introduction, bass and brushed percussion provide the backing to a short by oh so sweet trumpet solo that could just be from CHINATOWN, this is a polished and precision score which is a collection of themes and sounds that evoke the era of the 1970’s and hats off to both Ottman and Buckley for re-creating the hot, chilled and funky styles that we so readily associate with movies such as SHAFT, TROUBLEMAN, ACROSS 110TH STREET and THEY CALL ME MR TIBBS etc. There is also available a double cd set of songs from the soundtrack, which include numerous hits from the charts of the 1970’s and its well worth acquiring this also as its a great nostalgia trip. Both score and soundtrack are available on lakeshore records. Highly recommended.

Score Track Listing
1.
Theme
 2:01
2.
Kids Today
 3:24
3.
Disco Party Fight
 4:00
4.
To The Car Show / Amelia?
 1:36
5.
Pornocchio
 2:23
6.
A Little Favor
 2:52
7.
Equanimity
 2:01
8.
Chet in the Dumps
 2:04
9.
You Got Her / Easy 20
 1:37
10.
Helping Blue Face / Car Crash
 3:11
11.
Meeting John Boy
 3:26
12.
It’s Not a Flight
 2:01
13.
Cars That Drive Themselves
 1:46
14.
YooHoo Delivery / Breaking In
 2:10
15.
Car Show Shoot Out
 4:42
16.
Follow the Yellow Dick Road
 1:43
17.
P.I. Life
 1:49
18.
BONUS TRACK: Flight of the Bumble Bee / The Right Thing to Do

KUNG FU PANDA 3.

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As the title kind of hints this is the third in the KUNG FU PANDA series, KUNG FU PANDA 3, is another action filled comedic animated romp with the voice talents of Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman. Music again is provided by composer Hans Zimmer with piano solos courtesy of Lang Lang. As you are aware I am no Zimmer fan, well that’s not exactly true because I do have the utmost respect for what he does and what he creates and achieves as far as film music is concerned, but I do feel that he receives far too much publicity, which I understand he is also uncomfortable with. Well I have to say that I have enjoyed the scores that he and also John Powell have worked on and KUNG FU PANDA 3 in my opinion is probably the best so far, it is a score that obviously has a lot of action cues and is also filled with various light hearted musical references but it also has within its framework some beautifully romantic and ethnically haunting sounding cues. The composer utilising the string section, the aforementioned piano solos of Lang Lang and some heartrending cello performances to purvey an atmosphere that is poignant and emotive. There is also present some nice woodwind solos and the work also contains its fair share of proud sounding brass and horn performances which are inspiring and have a full and rich stature to them. In many ways I have to say that the more robust action pieces did at times evoke the style and sound of Jerry Goldsmith, especially his work on the animated feature MULAN, but there again Goldsmith was a master at creating music that had to it an oriental flavour and aura. What I like about Zimmer’s score for KUNG FU PANDA is that although it is quite action led it never is far away from being comedic and light the composer being able to switch at what seems to be a moment’s notice from big serious and strong too cheeky, impish and fun. The track HALL OF HEROES for example is one such piece the composer infusing a mood of apprehension but then the track more or less erupts into a somewhat madcap affair with Chinese sounding references being enhanced and pushed forward by ample amounts of what can only still be referred to as MICKEY MOUSING, but it works so well. I am not familiar with all the oriental instrumentation that Zimmer employs within this score but there are a number of Chinese sounding passages that range from flat out action in their sound too romantic and highly emotional, the kind of emotional I would like to add that make the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand up. Every track for me was a delight and was also a listening experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Zimmer also employs a heavenly sounding choir on occasion which is laced with lush and luxurious sounding strings and dreamy faraway horns which are in turn bolstered by triumphant brass, this can be heard more prominently in the cue THE PANDA VILLAGE (track number 8) which also has to it a touch of the melancholy, which is purveyed by the use of subtle underlying strings and a delightfully melodic woodwind solo performance, but this is brief and the track soon returns to a more upbeat scenario with the string section carrying brass and percussion through to its conclusion. I also enjoyed track number 9, MEI MEI’S RIBBON DANCE which is quite fast paced and filled with Chinese musical references. Then we are straight away treated to a more robust adventure filled theme JADED (track number 10) which has to it that Goldsmith sound I mentioned earlier. Track number 11, PORTRAIT OF MOM is a heart-breaking cue, piano and woodwind pick out a simple but affecting theme which is then taken on by a mournful but attractive cello solo that is underlined initially by the string section before being overwhelmed by it to bring the cue to its end. No doubt about it KUNG FU PANDA 3 will entertain greatly and it’s one of those soundtracks that I know one will never tire of hearing. New versions also of KUNG FU FIGHTING are included on the compact disc, which too are enjoyable. Recommended. I Can’t wait for number 4, and yes it’s on its way.