lalo schifrin

By the bug

Despite his classical training, Lalo Schifrin had worked with Dizzy Gillespie and was something of a jazz enthusiast. His groundbreaking score for Don Siegel's Dirty Harry was initially inspired by Miles Davis' electronic excursions in "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" and Bitches Brew. Allowed to follow his musical instincts by veteran director Siegel, Schifrin orchestrates the score's driving percussion, restless electric bass, and eerie wordless vocals (as pioneered by Edda Dell'OrsoEnnio Morricone and his peers in Italy) into an organic mix that could best be described as acid jazz some 25 years before that genre began. The music cues for Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan are energetic and exciting, but what kicks the score to a level all its own is Schifrin's theme for the serial killer, Scorpio, whom Callahan tracks through the bulk of the film. Its offbeat fusion combines modern classical music in a brilliant manner with Sally Stevens' creepy, ethereal vocals overlaying psychedelic rock of the time. This is perhaps best exemplified on the CD in the two opening cuts: "Prologue -- The Swimming Pool" and "Main Title." The shifting tempos and the sinister, childlike vocals were directly emulated by dozens of Italian Poliziottechi and Giallo films of the '70s, and a sterilized incarnation of this style has become the bane of 21st century television scoring, a full three decades after Schifrin's seminal work. The only criticisms of the release are aesthetic and specific to the conventions of published film scores. This CD is missing the brilliant 7" edit of "Scorpio's Theme," which admittedly never appears in the film in this form, but which captures the excitement of the score in a three-minute jazz/rock opera. Also, some of the slight source music -- such as the comic "Harry's Hot Dog" and the cheesy "The Strip Club" -- will benefit the CD most when left off the play list. There is merit in presenting a "complete" soundtrack, even in order of appearance within the film; but given that these pieces wreck the mood set by the immediately preceding music, it could be argued that the best place for them is at the tail-end of the recording as bonus tracks. Outside of these misgivings, the primary score is one of the first truly modern action film scores. Less immediate than his popular theme songs for Mission Impossible or The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the score for Dirty Harry succeeds through Schifrin's experimental nerve and ability to draw ideas from current trends to meld them in a way both unique and timeless. Its influence is paramount, heard daily in movies, on television, and in modern jazz and rock music.

dirty harry


1 comment so far.

  1. Ανώνυμος 8 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010 - 10:24 μ.μ.
    thanks - steve.

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