Saturday, June 13, 2009

Anatomy of a Murder: Fifty Years

Anatomy of a Murder: Vijftig Jaar (Nederlands) Anatomy of a Murder - Fifty Years ( English)

Music by Duke Ellington - June 1959:
Hans Koert

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1959, the film Anatomy of a Murder was released in the cinema’s all around the world. Otto Preminger, the director of the film, was an Austrian jew who fled to the States for the German in the 1930s and made other films like Laura, The Man with The Golden Arm and Angel Face. This film, Anatomy of a Murder, seems to be his best they say. But I don't want inform you about the film, the cast or the story, but about the music, the sound track - made by Duke Ellington. On the 31st of May, the first and second of June 1959 the Duke Ellington Orchestra, you can find the complete personnel below this blog, recorded a dozen of tunes to be used as the sound track of this “court” film. In fact, Ellington used two themes in the film and each theme repeats itself in all kinds of different compositions The main theme is called Flirtibird and if you listen carefully it learns that Way Early Subtone, Almost Cried, Almost Crying and Upper and Outest do have the same roots. The other theme is Polly, which repeats in Low Key Lights, Midnight Indigo, Grace Valse, Haupe and Hero to Zero.

Although Duke Ellington is remembered as a great composer of suites and orchestral works, this Anatomy of a Murder is his first large film sound track.

This 50 years old master piece was re-mastered and reissued 10 years ago by Columbia and has lengthy liner notes by Phil Schaap and Wynton Marsalis, who was fascinated by the way Ellington recorded this sound track: What I would like to know is precisely how it’s done. What do they talk about on breaks, between takes, and in rehearsals? I want to hear the process that they went through when they would be working on some music. James Stewart (as Paul) and Duke Ellington (as Pie Eye) ( ( foto Columbia)
He studied the original music sheets and the final results and learned that there were differences.
I noticed he took out some notes that were in the score. The composer parts that he had written are not there. It’s in the score, but it’s not on the record, they weren’t playing it.
The 1999 CD reissue contains the original sound track as it finally appeared oin the film. They skipped the echo used in the original sound trackand released it finally as it appeared in the film. Extra are some bonus tracks; tunes, not used in the film; fragments of rehearsals and a small interview with the Duke in a track called The Grand Finale.

The recording sessions by the Duke Ellington Orchestra were started on the 31st of May 1959 and the next two days in the Radio Recorders Studios in Los Angeles for Columbia Records and a few days later it was done all over again for Columbia Pictures, and the film makers used the music of both recording sessions for the film; a great opportunity for research I guess.

A still from the film Anatomy of a Murder.
A record like this Columbia reissue, with the original music and numerous bonus tracks, is like caviar for the spoilt jazz fans; it's very valuable as it gives some inside information in how this sound track was made. For record companies such sets with the original recordings + unreleased unissued material and fragments of rehearsals, are the way to characterize the product above other, most pirate issues. A few blogs ago I pointed you to
the Complete Tony Bennett – Bill Evans recordings as an example, but most of you remember “the ultimate”, "the final” or “the complete” editions of Miles Davis recordings.

Jimmy Woode in Porgy en Bess - Terneuzen (The Netherlands) ( November 2003) ( photo courtesy Hans Koert)
One of the small surprises in the film is a fragment of a Dixieland tune, Happy Anatomy, In the film it is to be heard on a gramophone, when Laura ( Lee Remick) goes to Polly’s office and plays this record on her gramophone. Ellington recorded this with a "traditional jazz sextet", members of the regular orchestra of course, with a trumpet player, which might be Ray Nance, Butter” Jackson on trombone, Russell Procope on clarinet, Jimmy Woode on bass and Jimmy Johnson on drums. And of course, the Duke himself at the piano. I heard Jimmy Woode playing, a legend in jazz and a great bass player that played with all great names in jazz (Billie Holiday - Miles Davis - Sidney Bechet - Sarah Vaughan - Toots Thielemans - Charlie Parker - Ella Fitzgerald - Eric Dolphy - Don Byas - Albert Nicholas and of course The Duke (to list some), one and a half year before he passed away, at the Porgy en Bess jazz club in Terneuzen (south west part of The Netherlands) with Roberta Gambarini.

Lee Remick with the Duke (foto Columbia)
Of course, you shouldn't listen and rate this album Anatomy of a Murder without seeing the film, the moving images; sitting in a cinema chair in front of a wide screen, popcorn and coca cola at hand ...........
Enjoy a fragment from the film, in which Duke Ellington plays the role of Pie Eye, a piano player; he seems to be made for that part, together with Paul ( = James Stewart).

Hans Koert

Duke Ellington director and piano; Cat Anderson - Shorty Baker - Ray Nance – Gerald Wilson and Clark Terry trumpet; Quentin “Butter” Jackson and Britt Woodman trombone; John Sanders vibraphone; Harry Carney - Paul Gonsalves - Jimmy Hamilton – Johnny Hodges and Russell Procope reeds; Jimmy Woode bass and Jimmy Johnson drums.

1.: Main Title/Anatomy Of A Murder
2.: Flirtibird
3.: Way Early Subtone
4.: Hero To Zero
5.: Low Key Lightly
6.: Happy Anatomy
7.: Midnight Indigo
8.: Almost Cried
9.: Sunswept Sunday
10.: Grace Valse
12.: Haupe
11.: Happy Anatomy (PI Five)
13.: Upper And Outset
14.: Anatomy Of A Murder (stereo single version)
15.: Merrily Rolling Along/Sunswept Sunday
16.: Beer Garden
17.: Happy Anatomy
18.: Polly
19.: Polly (Movie Stings)
20.: Happy Anatomy (Dixieland)
21.: More Blues
22.: Almost Cried
23.: Anatomy Of A Murder (soundtrack music)
24.: Anatomy Of A Murder
25.: The Grand Finale

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Anonymous Bill said...

When I saw the film on its release, there was a an intermission of about 15 minutes during which the Ellington orchestra continued to play.

Bill (Manchester) (GB)
Organissimo Jazz Forum)

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

I understand the orchestra played live for 15 minutes during the premiere? Was that in [b]England[/b]? The [b]Ellington band[/b] was in [b]Europe[/b] in September and October 1959, but I don't know if they visited [b]England[/b]. They were in[b] Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Munich[/b] and [b]Amsterdam[/b] and [b]Eindhoven [/b](both in The Netherlands) due to recording dates listed.


1:14 PM  
Blogger Árni said...

Outstanding post and very informative. Kudos to you Hans for excellent work!

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

The screen went blank, but additional music which I understood was part of the music composed for the film continued to come through the sound system and, like the music in the film, was played by the Ellington orchestra.

They made an intermision to sell popcorn or that kind of stuff and then continued the film. No "live" music by the band.

Bill (Manchester) (Uk)
(Organissimo Jazz Forum)

6:13 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Dear Hans,
Excellent and very informing article, great work!

7:45 AM  

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