Saturday, April 27, 2013

ANATOMY OF A MURDER by Duke Ellington

The reviewer at the All Music web site opines that premiere genius Duke Ellington rose to the occasion when he had the chance to compose a full movie score for Otto Preminger's film "Anatomy of a Murder". This was not a case of saying that Ellington sustains his brilliance as a composer solely already established criteria, the implication that Ellington not just rose to the challenge of writing music for the moves, but showed himself to be the equal of genuine film composing giants, bumping shoulders with Bernard Hermann and Alfred Newman. Insert your favorite composer.
What bothered me especially was the claim that Ellington composed his music that served the scene and that it was discreet, unobtrusive, intuitively supportive of the narrative and the emotional dynamics under view. I disagree; I do consider Ellington to be America's greatest musical gift to the world in the  20th Century and consider him an American Master of his art, the good maestro doesn't seem to have had any idea of how to compose something that was meant to augment a filmed story. All the classic touches, coloration, impressionistic sweeps and slyly insinuated improvisations are here--as an album, this is a fine work of ensemble concert jazz composition--but the don't just intrude on the scenes and sequences, they stomp on them. 
There is a struggle for attention. The final effect is that of being in a crappy hotel room where the neighbors are playing the radio too loud for too long. It would be nice if this resourceful innovator could claim with pride that he had artistic success in the movies besides all the other forms he greeted and seduced into becoming his very own expression. Some shoulders remain could to the seduction. Remember that the name of his memoir is "Music is My Mistress".  Mistresses , in the movies at least,have minds of their own and will keep their own consul.


  1. Cootie Williams2:22 PM PDT

    Who’s gonna be the first on this street to mow his fucking lawn? Who’s gonna be the spring peeper, the early bird with the worm down this throat, have the smile that won’t come off and put down the sunny sound so that it really, really sticks? Who’s gonna pick themselves up, dust themselves off, put away those blues and open wide for Chunky? Who is going to step up to the plate – right in front of MY house, no less -- and do the right thing, right now, before breakfast, ahead of schedule, on top of a heap of Easter eggs left out for the kiddies with a bow around the basket? I’m looking out between the blinds and I know there is some sweet decent son of a bitch who is gonna put us all to shame and not even get his knees dirty doing it and I am going to have another cup of the rankest coffee on earth and clean out my garage and let the old spare tire roll down the alley all the way to the beach and I don’t give a fuck who it rolls over. This is spring and you’ve got to start somewhere.



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