Music:Elmer Bernstein: Spring In Central Park (first draft)
"'Get her!' That was your whole plan, huh? 'Get her.' Very scientific."
I have completed the first draft of my newest compilation, a New York-themed album entitled Spring In Central Park. Elmer Bernstein was a native New Yorker, and I've always felt that his music perfectly captured something about the restless energy and sophistication of this city, exacerbated by the fact that he composed scores for two quintessential New York films, Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters and Edward Norton's Keeping the Faith. The latter film, with its emphasis on portraying the New York that people actually live in as opposed to the Angeleno concept of doing so usually found in films, was in fact the direct inspiration for this album.
The disc also features selections from two of his extremely fruitful collaborations with Bill Duke, the gangster-comedy A Rage In Harlem and the gangster-drama Hoodlum; The Babe, the nostalgic biopic with John Goodman as El Bambino; the gorgeous From the Terrace (the sound quality is pretty dire in some of these cues, but the music was worth including); his unused score from Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and excerpts from New York sequences of both Stripes and Heavy Metal. My criteria for inclusion was less to represent the included scores as it was to portray the city and the people who live in it.
The disc represents a few firsts for me; not only is it the first compilation I've made dedicated entirely to Elmer Bernstein, but also because it was the first time that absolutely all of the edits were done in the master timeline of Audition, rather than making separate sessions for individual suites. I did this because I (naïvely) didn't expect the project to require much editing (was I ever wrong!), but I found that it worked out quite well because it allowed me to make some pretty drastic as well as minute changes to the master on the fly. It also means that while what I'm listening to right now is indeed the "first draft," it is much more polished than my first drafts usually are. So much so, in fact, that I am very close to calling it complete. I need to give it a few more spins just to make absolutely sure, but I was listening to it all day today at work (optimal testing conditions today; as should be apparent from the title, this music is perfect for listening in Manhattan in great weather) and any alterations I might need to make would be pretty minor, and I expect that my liner notes will be up shortly. I think I nailed this.
I've been making some new discoveries of late. One of these is not terribly surprising: I finally broke down and ordered the three volumes of Georges Delerue: The London Sessions and I was immediately hooked. I'd always been aware of Delerue but rarely really happened across his work, and his beautiful long-form melodies, expressive orchestration and sense of drama are right up my ally. The Escape Artist is quite a gem, as is Agnes of God. Today, however, I received his score from the mini-series Thibaud the Crusader, which I quickly ripped it to my iPod so I could sample it for my commute. My "sample" ended up being me listening to the whole thing, as it is one of those grand scale epic scores that I just absolutely love. Kudos to Prometheus for getting this one out all those years ago (and also for preserving it in its original monaural sound rather than trying to apply a stereo presence, which means the sizes of the ripped files were quite small), this was one of those great discoveries you're always hoping to make.
The other thing I've been getting into of late is in a somewhat different vein. I've actually been listening to some hip-hop lately, which believe me is more shocking to me than it probably is to you. Dan had a playlist he played for me on which there was an excerpt from the Jay-Z's MTV Unplugged album that I really liked. He obligingly gave me some recommendations of stuff that I might like if I was interested in that. The real breakthrough, though, was Guru's first Jazzmatazz album.¹ The fusion of the hip-hop idiom with jazz was something I found invigorating, and once I have an album in a genre I you can't stop listening to, the rest of it seems much less opaque to me. I tend to prefer the material that shows more of the rhythm and blues and soul influences, but I'm finding quite a lot to enjoy in the genre which I honestly could not stand for so long.
Strange. I thought one's tastes were supposed to narrow as one gets older, but I seem to be experiencing the opposite…
¹ — Were I a superstitious man, I would draw a connection between the fact that Guru sadly passed away only a few weeks ago and the fact that almost any television show which catches my interest inevitably is cancelled, either just before or just after I get into it. But I'm not superstitious, so I won't.