Soundtracks are a lot more than movie music...
...or so I'm ready to argue as a 30 year devotee of this sorely under appreciated genre. So, in an effort to do my part, each week
I'll be making recommendations of soundtracks current and vintage, make a fuss over long awaited soundtrack scores finally getting
a well deserved release, and in general, make some noise about this often overlooked category. Beyond my long experience as a
listener and as a pianist and songwriter, both of which I've put to use in writing a quarterly soundtrack column for the Chicago
Tribune, I can only offer my recommendations. You'll discern my taste soon enough and upfront I'd like to make it clear that I'll
focus most heavily on SCORE soundtracks. In the end, all criticism is subjective but if I can point a listener toward a little heard
soundtrack or strongly advise you to either ORDER IMMEDIATELY or SKIP ALTOGETHER, all the better.
Let's Get Lost, Bruce Weber's lyrical tone poem to the master of jazz cool, Chet Baker, yet
another poster boy for the beautiful and the damned, is being re-released into theatres 14
years after its first run in 1989 (hopefully a DVD release will finally follow).
In honor of that, I'm urging soundtrack lovers and jazz enthusiasts to pick up the
soundtrack for Let's Get Lost as it's a decided must have for your collection. Though not
a score soundtrack - which is what I usually recommend here - it gives us this masterful
vocalist and instrumentalist (Baker's trumpet playing, cool and wistful, never faltered) in his
final performances which are not to be missed. This recording is a sort of aural equivalent of
Billie Holiday's "Lady In Satin." In Holiday's last great album she was given sumptuous
arrangements and orchestrations which helped to flatter her by then tattered but no less
amazing voice. Baker, with similar encumbrances (decades of drug addiction and loss of his
teeth), is also more than a tad weatherbeaten. But the balance of the voice - not to
mention Baker's impeccable phrasing - is more than enough to weave the patented Baker
spell. The soundtrack includes Baker backed by an equally impeccable group of musicians
who provide tasteful support (in other words, they get out of the way of the master yet
enhance his singing and playing). Baker croons many jazz standards here including Billy
Strayhorn's chestnut "Daydream," a sultry "You're My Thrill" and several others.
Once you've let this one soak into your soul (no really), then take a step back to one of my
favorite Baker recordings, 1974's She Was Too Good To Me. This was the first major
recording Baker did after having his teeth knocked out and its a beauty. Awash in
shimmering strings and early 70s electronic touches (fender rhodes is the keyboard of choice
here), Baker's rendition of the title song is surely one of the sexiest, most alluring
recordings of all time. Hands down. The rest, a mixture of contemporary 70s funk-jazz and
more dreamy string laden standards, just reinforces his genius. It's a terrific mood music -
sensual, somber and the perfect evocation of a dream state.
Don't forget to check out previous soundtrack recommendations by visiting the ARCHIVES
Next Recommendation: TBA
I'm a Chet Baker fiend! Just two of
my favorite recordings of his
(pictured above) from the dozens he
recorded in his career.