Boom! Italian Jazz Soundtracks at their Best. (1959-1969).

Italian film scores are filled with so many original and inventive styles and sounds, I think more than any other Country Italy has been a hotbed of musical activity when it comes to innovative musical notions in film music. One only has to listen to their take on the music for westerns to understand how quirky, offbeat and original composers from Italy were and still are. Over the years there have been literally hundreds of compilations, which initially were a brilliant insight to just how many styles were present within the world of Italian film soundtracks. But as the years rolled on and the ever-increasing compilation releases popped up on LP, CD and also on digital platforms, the compilations did I have to say become very Samey. As in the record labels would very often include a handful of themes on each collection, leaving the collector with a difficult decision “Do I buy this release for two three minute tracks as I have all the others already”? 

But this has been a problem with Italian releases over the decades because they seem to re-issue and re-issue, sometimes not including anything that was not previously released. However, there are a few collections of film music from Italy that have caught my attention over the years, the excellent Easy Tempo compilations for example, many of the tracks at the time of the release of the compilations not being available and alerting collectors to a wealth of music from composers that they might not have already been acquainted with.

Mention must be made also of BEAT records and their Il Sogni Della Musica releases of which there were three volumes originally on LP then on CD, with a fourth collection being released by BEAT which was basically a best of Il Sogni Della Musica in the early part of the 2000’s. Well, I am pleased to say that the great Italian compilation is back in the form of Boom! Italian Jazz Soundtracks at their Best. Which is a collection released on two LP records and available digitally on the likes of Spotify by Decca records that includes thirty-three tracks and runs for over an hour.

All the tracks are culled from the CAM archives or Sugar music as we now know it, and from what I can see and hear most of them have maybe not been issued before (but don’t quote me on this). It’s a wonderfully varied collection of jazz fueled compositions by many of the top flyers in both jazz and film music in Italy.

Many names being very familiar and others although we know them have not been given the exposure that they deserve in the ever increasing and ongoing re-issue program from Italy. We see the names, Nicolai, Bacalov, Rustichelli, Umiliani, De Masi, Ferrio, Ortolani, Morricone, Giombini, Piccioni, Orlandi, Travioli, etc, but amongst these are some outstanding tracks filled with jazz and big band influences composed by Aldo Piga, Luis Bonfa, Peppino De Luca, Ivan Vandor, Marcello Giante and featuring iconic performers such as Gato Barbieri, Chet Baker, Nora Orlandi, Nunzio Rotundo, with some cues featuring Il Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni and the four caravels.

This is I think one of the best curated compilations in recent years, it is an introduction to Italian movie scores that lean towards jazz for any who are not already familiar with them, but is also just a wonderful listen that is entertaining and if you have grown up with Italian movie scores like I have bring memories flooding back, but not because I know the tracks but more because of the sounds that are created within them. Smoky, seductive, at times sleazy, but always, always thrilling and entertaining. Wonderful release. More please…..Cant wait for 1970 to 1980.

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