Saturday, October 16, 2010

CTI on Film

Surprisingly little of CTI’s music can be heard in film. This is probably because Creed Taylor was forced to record so many MGM film themes on his Verve jazz albums back in the 1960s. By the time he started CTI, he probably wanted nothing to do with this sort of thing – and he was no longer forced by anybody to do so. Still, the occasional film theme did pop up on CTI.

Nearly the only original film theme in the whole of the CTI discography is the Astrud Gilberto performance of the Ennio Morricone theme to Le Casse (aka The Burglars), a 1971 film directed by the great Henri Verneuil and starring the redoubtable Jean-Paul Belmondo with an international cast consisting of Omar Sharif and Dyan Cannon.

Creed Taylor had nothing to do with the making of this record yet successfully negotiated for its release on CTI Records. But for some reason, the song – probably recorded in New York City in 1971 with Ron Carter (bass), João Palma (drums) and Dom Um Romao (percussion) – was not included on the original Bell soundtrack LP. It was issued only on a CTI 45-rpm record that was released in Italy and Japan – not, for some reason, in the US.

The Brazilian chanteuse Astrud Gilberto, already famed in films for singing the original “The Girl From Ipanema” as well as Quincy Jones’ 1966 main theme to the Creed Taylor-produced soundtrack The Deadly Affair (not to mention briefly being signed by CTI and issuing 1971's Astrud Gilberto with Turrentine for the label), sung the Le Casse theme, “Argomenti,” in Italian and also another version of the song, “Acercándome a Ti,” in Spanish (a secondary theme from the film was also sung by Gilberto in both Italian and Spanish).

The Italian songs have turned up on several Morricone anthologies and the Spanish tunes turned up on a Spanish CD release of Astrud Gilberto with Turrentine (Wah Wah, 2002) while all four tunes appear on an obscure Korean (!) CD release of Astrud Gilberto with Turrentine (Pleasant Ville, 2004)

There are also several CTI albums that “cover” film themes, including Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Stone Flower (CTI, 1970), which features several uncredited renditions of Jobim’s themes from the 1970 The Adventurers, Lalo Schifrin’s Black Widow (CTI, 1976), featuring several film themes of other composers, Schifrin’s Towering Toccata (CTI, 1976), highlighting several re-recorded Schifrin film and TV themes (and a would-be hit, “Most Wanted,” that surprisingly never happened) and the obligatory Star Wars covers (and an odd, yet fantastic, cover of the Silent Running theme) on David Matthew’s superb Dune (CTI, 1978).

Being There - scored magnificently by Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)"

Still, aside from the pirated use of funky CTI tunes in many a late 70s/early 80s-era porno film, there are a few notable uses of CTI music that turned up in film – some credited, some not. CTI’s most well-known tune, itself a cover of a theme used for a film, is also the label's best-known film tune. Deodato’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” (from the 1972 album Prelude), factors significantly in a pivotal scene from Hal Ashby’s Being There (1979). The tune, which was much copied in film and on record, was also later used for Lords of Dogtown (2005).

The Prelude album gets further significant - and uncredited - play during a party scene in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (a film that future CTI recording artist Lalo Schifrin was dismissed from), from which astute listeners will hear snippets of both “Carly & Carole” and the great “September 13,” the day the titular song was recorded. Curiously enough, both Being There and The Exorcist take place in Washington, DC, and both are filmed on location in the nation’s capitol.

Only several other CTI tunes have ever found their way into film. The ones that I know of include Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” featured in Brown Sugar (2002) and Around the Fire (1998), Chet Baker’s “She Was Too Good To Me” and “What’ll I Do” (both from She Was Too Good To Me) in the Polish short film Ja jestem Jurek (2000) and Bob James’ take on “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” (from Bob James Two), which is included in Wild Style (1983), an early documentary on hip-hop.

Any others?

3 comments:

Cherif Keita said...

My hero was Eric Gale. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much about him. How much did you work with him? How was he as a person and as a musician?

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