Friday, June 10, 2016

Catching up with Intrada (Part 1)

There's quite a lot of ground to cover since my last music update, so I'll be going through the releases I've worked on by label. First up is Intrada, which has had such a prodigious output these last few years that I'll be breaking my recap into two parts! We begin with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Season Two, a deluxe 4-CD set of music from the classic television series. It contains scores by Stu Phillips, John Cacavas and Herbert Don Woods, but the majority of the music on this set was composed by Bruce Broughton, who joined the show during its second season and confirmed the outstanding dramatic chops that would help him become one of the most respected composers in Hollywood. The set is now sold out, but well worth hunting down!

For Intrada, I also had the opportunity to write about two scores by the late James Horner. Though I never had an opportunity to personally interview Mr. Horner, it is always a great honor and pleasure to write about his music. He described himself as a colorist first and foremost, and these two scores are masterful examples. The first, Gorky Park, is a wintry blend of eerie dissonance, powerful low brass, funky urban beats, interpolations of Tchaikovsky and a love theme for the ages. The second, A Far Off Place, is a dynamic, symphonic score that taps into the grandeur, romance and adventure of Africa. Horner was a titan in his field, and these works are just two examples of why he will be so badly missed.

Next up we have a pair of double-features. You'd be hard pressed to find a stranger double bill than Maurice Jarre's Mandingo / Plaza Suite! The former is an unconventional score for a notorious blaxploitation epic, featuring a collaboration between Jarre and blues artist Muddy Waters ("Born in this Time"). The latter is a brief, light-on-its-feet score for a Neil Simon adaptation. The combo makes for a wonderful demonstration of Jarre's amazing versatility. The other double-feature is The Return of a Man Called Horse / Inherit the Wind from maestro Laurence Rosenthal, pairing one of his most sweeping scores with one of his most intimate. Both films are character studies, albeit told on very different scales, and both allow Rosenthal to shine. He remains one of my favorite composers, and I've been blessed to work on so many of his releases over the years!

Finally, we have a trio of stand-alone releases from different composers. First is Craig Safan's The Last Starfighter, a thrilling score for one of the most-loved cult sci-fi films of the 1980s. Newly remastered and expanded, it's never sounded better than it does here. Second is Christopher Young's more recent Killing Season, a rich and meditative blend of American and Eastern European influences. Working on this release was especially interesting for the way Young reworked his material into suite form for album presentation. Third is the premiere release of Michael Kamen's whirlwind action-comedy score for Adventures in Babysitting. I've been a Kamen fan since I first saw Brazil, and it was a joy to dive into this very fun score—much of it unused in the actual film!

That's it for Part 1. Next up: Silvestri, Arnold, Goldsmith, Goodwin, more Young and Safan, and my notes hit vinyl for the first time!

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