Kay

The Jazz Music in PHANTOM LADY (1944)

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I'm hoping someone who knows about jazz can tell me the style being played by Elisha Cook's band in this film. It seems like the sort of music that would be played during sleepless marathon jam sessions fueled by booze and dope and possibly wasn't the kind that would make it to the recording studios very often. At any rate, it was hotter than what I'm used to hearing from that time period, with the wailing clarinet and low-down, dirty rawness in the brass. I was really digging it- but this is where my knowledge falls off rapidly. I've listened to so little jazz from this era onward, maybe someone can fill me in. Where can I find more music like THAT?

Here's a very low-quality snippet of the scene I'm referring to. Probably the best moment in the film!

 

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Sounds like some hot Chicago style jazz to me.  King Oliver, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Bix Beiderbeck are all exponents of the form.  Try "Sing Sing Sing," by Benny Goodman.  Gene Krupa thumps on the drums and Benny wails on the clarinet.  There are other versions you can get on YouTube, but this snippet gives you the idea:

 

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Thanks for identifying the style. I'm at least a little familiar with each of the artists you mentioned; I've listened to quite a bit of 20s and 30s jazz. Do you know of any small-band artists of a slightly later era, maybe? It's hard for me to put my finger on why the music in that film sounded different than the same style music of an earlier era- I thought it had a certain reckless abandonment to it. I definitely see the similarity in the Benny Goodman clip, and the musicianship is great, tho big-band music frequently sounds rigid and over-organized to my ear-- which is the opposite of what I found so appealing about the music in the film!

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All the people I mentioned, to whom I'd add, Lionel Hampton (the best vibraphonist), and Illinois Jacquet (a wialing saxophonist), worked in smaller groups at some point in their careers, also liking the freer atmosphere.  You just have to search their names with the word live on YouTube or elsewhere to find examples, like this one:

 

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Neither here nor there but that first clip reminded me of the start of this film.  Once A Thief (1965).

This is just the opening credits.  Shortly after what you see here, the drummer gets into yet another frenzy - just as they show something going down on the streets.

 

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2 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Neither here nor there but that first clip reminded me of the start of this film.  Once A Thief (1965).

Nice opening scene! Hadn't seen that before. I love how the frame is vibrating to the fiery drumming. Reminds me of the shot in the Phantom Lady scene when Ella Raines is looking into the shaking mirror.

Thanks, too, Slayton, for the mention of Illinois Jacquet! Never thought he would be up my alley- I just watched this amazing scene from D.O.A. that I had somehow forgotten about. Why is it so hard to find stuff with this level of heat?! (And why does it keep turning up in movies?)

Someone commenting on the Phantom Lady video was speculating about the drumming possibly being dubbed by Buddy Rich, (actually was a drummer by the name of Dave Coleman, I learned.) I looked him up, too-- I haven't listened to the whole album yet but the opening piece here has some of that super-charged, turned-up-to-11 hotness I'm seeking. (And on a record, even.)

Thanks for your suggestions. I'll keep looking into it. If you want to send anything else my way I'll love you all the more for it.

Edit: I'm going over to the music thread to post a gypsy jazz group I found interesting, if you want to have a listen to it.

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Let me also recommend the Jazz at the Philharmonic series.  This wasn't jazz players accompanied by an orchestra, but a series of concerts originally staged at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, but later in tours around the world.  It featured a bewildering array of the most accomplished artists including--well, who didn't it include?  There was Illinois Jacquet, Nat King Cole, Les Paul, Lionel Hamption, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Coleman Hawkins, and on and on.  Some of the cookinest music ever.  Many of the concerts are available for purchase or listening on the Web.

Bud Powell was the most intense jazz pianist of all time.  His playing is suffused with a frenetic energy that is dumbfounding when you first hear him.  The notes pour out at an almost impossible rate, and yet under absolute control.  One of the preeminent figures in the development of bebop, his contributions are as important as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk.  However, due to tragic events in his life, his later work, though superior of course, lacks the blazing fire of his early performances.

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12 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Let me also recommend the Jazz at the Philharmonic series.  This wasn't jazz players accompanied by an orchestra, but a series of concerts originally staged at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, but later in tours around the world.  It featured a bewildering array of the most accomplished artists including--well, who didn't it include?  There was Illinois Jacquet, Nat King Cole, Les Paul, Lionel Hamption, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Coleman Hawkins, and on and on.  Some of the cookinest music ever.  Many of the concerts are available for purchase or listening on the Web.

Bud Powell was the most intense jazz pianist of all time.  His playing is suffused with a frenetic energy that is dumbfounding when you first hear him.  The notes pour out at an almost impossible rate, and yet under absolute control.  One of the preeminent figures in the development of bebop, his contributions are as important as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk.  However, due to tragic events in his life, his later work, though superior of course, lacks the blazing fire of his early performances.

I've been sitting on the sidelines here and I have to say you're doing a bang-up job here!    Instead of going down the rabbit hole of labeling (e.g. what type of jazz style is this),  you're just providing names of artist that created similar works.    THAT is wisdom!

Note that the other forum I belong to is a jazz forum;   We have threads just on the topic of "what is this" were musicians discuss the various forms of bop;  be-bop, hard-bop, post-bop,,,,,   I.e. not just a breakdown of what is cool-jazz, west-coast-swing,  etc..   but the various forms within a form!!!

 These nerd discussions just go around in circles and often lose slight of the MUSIC.

You instead keep the focus on the MUSIC and the ARTIST and for that I say thanks.

   

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You're welcome, jamesjazzguitar.  I have to say part of the reason I don't go down any rabbit holes is that I don't have any formal education in music.  What I know of jazz I've picked up mostly from reading CD booklets that came with the albums I bought.  That and watching Leonard Bernstein shows, the Young People's Concerts and his The Unanswered Question.  

When I hear someone express an interest in the music, I try to think of what thrills me about it to feed that interest.  Jazz is America's classical music, and the people who wrote it and performed it were true masters and geniuses.  And I'm sure I don't have the knowledge to appreciate them nearly as much as they should be.

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