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
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.
In trolling through my Archives I was stunned to find that I haven't
recommended a soundtrack score by longtime Spike Lee collaborator Terence
Blanchard.  I've long been a fan of his moody, jazz tinged symphonic scores
for Lee's movies.  Heavily influenced by Aaron Copland, Blanchard's music adds
his own penchant for melancholy and all the scores for Lee feature his
outstanding trumpet work.  My favorite Blanchard score is for
Clockers (which
also has an abundance of gorgeous, original R&B tracks) with the one for the
little seen
She Hate Me a close second.  But I'm also very partial to the
incredible work he wrote for Lee's Hurricane Katrina documentary,
When the
Levees Broke.  A full soundtrack of that film hasn't been released, though a
"requiem" for it
has and is as beautiful as I remember.  Now Blanchard has
teamed up again with Lee to provide the score for the WWII drama
Miracle at
St. Anna.  

Taking a cue from Lee's epic theme, Blanchard's score is large, weighty and
much more suited to the symphony hall than his previous works.  The score,
broken up into several character themes (mini suites, actually), begins with a
brief but elegant jazz piano selection ("Opening Credits") and then veers
throughout a musical tour of the rest of the orchestra with Blanchard's usual
abundant string section and brass in great evidence.  The tense, dissonant and
beautiful "War Is Hell" cue is particularly effective but this is just one highlight
in a challenging score that takes several listens to fully appreciate.  Though the
film has received mixed reviews, Blanchard's score shouldn't - it's a winner and
hopefully will lead (at last) to a long overdue Oscar nomination for the talented


Don't forget to check out previous soundtrack recommendations by visiting the

Next Recommendation:  TBA
The song soundtrack cover and composer
Terence Blanchard, Spike Lee's longtime