Monday, January 1, 2018

Catching up with Intrada (Part 3)

I'm ringing in the new year with the third part of my "Catching up with Intrada" spotlight! After providing notes for the first film in the series, I was delighted to be asked to do notes for The Monkey King 2. It's another exquisite fantasy score from Christopher Young, and the first album I've done for a theatrically released film still in its initial run. The sequel is less action-packed than the original, but I personally found it more dramatically rich. After that came a pair of scores by a man I much admired, the late Basil Poledouris. The Blue Lagoon and Return to the Blue Lagoon were written at very different points in his career, the former being one of his earliest major scores and the latter being written after he was well-established in the industry. Both, however, are stunning works of symphonic beauty.

Next came some scores by David Newman, one of the hardest-working conductors in the business and a fine composer who knows how to marshal the resources provided by a large symphony orchestra. First up was his score to DuckTales: The Movie—Treasure of the Lost Lamp. I have very fond memories of this film from my childhood, and the music is as grand and adventurous as one could hope for. The second score was Operation Dumbo Drop, a family adventure score that I missed the first time around but was very happy to discover thanks to this release. I'd have loved it as a teenager, and it holds up incredibly well today. This soundtrack was paired on CD with an important score by Alex North: his complete score for the classic film Good Morning, Vietnam. There's not much underscore in the film, which is famous for its use of pop songs, but what's there is haunting and emotionally vivid.

These projects were followed with a pair of epics, one for the big screen and one for the small screen. James Horner's Troy is a score that I didn't get a true impression of the first time I heard it, which was in hacked-up form to accompany the director's cut DVD. For this project, I sought out the theatrical cut and was intrigued to discover that, contrary to many critics who found the director's cut a huge improvement, I much preferred the abbreviated cut with Horner's score intact. (For completists who pick up this album, don't toss your original CD, as it contains a few minutes of material that had to be left off this new edition.) The small-screen epic was a brand new edition of Maurce Jarre's Shōgun. I had previously done notes for Intrada's straight reissue of the original LP. This release, however, was a monumental 3-CD presentation of the full score, an album reconstruction and copious extras. I was honored to produce this CD for Intrada with Lukas Kendall, in addition to penning all-new notes.

Finally, my most recent release for Intrada was a double-feature of music by the legendary Quincy Jones. Mackenna's Gold is a western, and a very fine one, with bracing themes and a memorable ballad performed by José Feliciano. In Cold Blood is an incredible jazz fever dream of a score for the 1967 film based on Truman Capote's famous memoir. These are two of Jones' finest scores, and it was an absolute delight to get to write about them.

Thanks for revisiting these projects with me! Still to come: retrospectives for Quartet, La-La Land and a post about my first piece commissioned specially for an LP release.

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