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  • Kansas City: A Robert Altman Film
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Kansas City: A Robert Altman Film Soundtrack


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Audio CD, Soundtrack, May 7, 1996
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 7, 1996)
  • Original Release Date: May 7, 1996
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Verve
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000470T
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,020 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Blues In The Dark - James Carter/Joshua Redman
2. Moten Swing - Jesse Davis/James Carter
3. I Surrender Dear - James Carter/Nicholas Payton/Cyrus Chestnut
4. Queer Notions - David Murray/Russell Malone/Cyrus Chestnut
5. Lullaby Of The Leaves - Jesse Davis/Clark Gayton/Geri Allen
6. I Left My Baby - Mark Whitfield/David 'Fathead' Newman/Craig Handy/Curtis Fowlkes
7. Yeah, Man - Craig Handy/Joshua Redman
8. Froggy Bottom - Geri Allen/David 'Fathead' Newman/Mark Whitfield
9. Solitude - Joshua Redman
10. Pagin' The Devil - Don Byron/Olu Dara/Clark Gayton
11. Lafayette - Nicholas Payton/James Zollar/Olu Dara
12. Solitude (Reprise) - Don Byron/Christian McBride/Ron Carter

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Robert Altman's Kansas City is basically a 1930s gangster film, but much of the action takes place in the Hey Hey Club, a black-owned nightclub and gambling den where an all-day, all-night jam session is in progress, featuring such figures as Lester Young (played by Joshua Redman), Hawkins (Craig Handy), Ben Webster (James Carter), Basie (Cyrus Chestnut), Mary Lou Williams (Geri Allen), Hershel Evans (David Murray), Freddie Green (Mark Whitfield), Walter Page (Ron Carter), and Jimmy Rushing (Kevin Mahogany). Kansas City in the mid-1930s was a thriving jazz center and home to legendary bands led by Basie, Bennie Moten, Andy Kirk, and Jay McShann. The music here comes from that period and is done in that style. Producer Hal Willner and music director Butch Morris encouraged a loose atmosphere, with lots of give and take, even shouts of approval, and the musicians respond by playing for the immediate moment, rather than for some dimly imagined history. --Geoffrey Himes

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
At first listen, one will be hooked!
C.B. Derrick
The sound quality is AMAZING, and I wish there were more quality "remake" albums of 1920s-30s black big band stuff.
Amazon Customer
In classical music you simply play the score, which contains more or less everything.
Denis L. Baggi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By JEAN-MARIE JUIF on January 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This soundtrack of Robert Altman's movie is one of my favorite jazz records in the past years.Altman's genial idea for the soundtrack was to put together some of the great musicians of the nineties and let them recreate the music played in K.C. during the thirties, without trying to copy the original versions of the tunes.In fact,any of these musicians was born at that time,except David "Fathead" Newman (born 1934,Texas),who was for years a member of Ray Charles' band.
"Blues in the dark",a 1938 Basie/Rushing tune,is a tenor duel between James Carter and Joshua Redman,remembering the famous Lester Young/Coleman Hawkins tenor battles."Moten swing",written in 1932 by Benny Moten,is played with great swing and features Jesse Davis' alto sax and James Carter.The rhythm section,made of Geri Allen,Mark Whitfield,Chris McBride and Victor Lewis reminds of the imperial Greene/Jones/Page/Basie team."I surrender dear" is a tribute to Coleman Hawkins' magnificent version of May 25,1940;the young Nicholas Payton has the opportunity for a great solo,in which he sounds just like the immense Roy Eldridge."Queer notions" was written by Hawkins when he was a member of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra;the tenor solo is played by David Murray."Lullaby of the leaves" features the great piano of the beautiful Geri Allen,and efforts by Jesse Davis and trombonist Clark Gayton. "I left my baby" may be the highlight of the record;this Basie/Rushing blues is played with ferocity.After Kevin Mahogany's vocal,the band goes into a wild,down hearted playing,with shining and rough solos by Newman,Craig Handy,and the outstanding Curtis Fowlkes on trombone."Yeah,man",a Noble Sissle original,was played by Henderson's band,and features here the tenors of Handy and Redman for another tenor battle.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Denis L. Baggi on May 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is an exciting and interesting Jazz CD, because it contains a proposal on how to deal with a problem that has never been entirely solved in jazz: how to re-create past music. In classical music you simply play the score, which contains more or less everything. But the essence of jazz is not in the score, but in all those non-objectifiable elements that are not in the score, namely, those collectively called "swing" (that's why the score is not the document in jazz, but only the recorded piece, which glorifies one particular instant).
Hence, how do you solve the problem? Do you play ancient jazz with exactly the same sound and accents (horrible) or do you use modern tricks (maybe kitsch)? Do you repeat note-by-note the original solos or do you play new improvised ones on top of the old arrangements? There have been various attempts: for instance, Lennie Niehaus' system in Clint Eastwood "Bird" to electronically remove ancient rhythm sections and superimpose Parker's solos on new rhythm sections (interesting but terrible). Tavernier with Dexter Gordon in "Round Midnight" skipped the problem and recorded new music.
In "Kansas City", instead, we have a fresh approach: that of letting modern jazzmen interpret those pieces. It is clear they pay their dues to the pioneers - the swing and freshness is there to testify this - but at the same time they are not shy about showing off their modern techniques and mastery of the overtones - especially tenor saxophonists, like Joshua Redman and James Carter, the latter being fond of mingling with the elders.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C.B. Derrick on January 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
At first listen, one will be hooked!

I can't think of a better jazz soundtrack and I can't think of a post-70s jazz all-star recording that burns on EVERY SINGLE track. To hear cool cats like Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Mark Whitfield and others in the new generation handle this watershed music with such fluidity lets the old fan and new recognize that jazz will transcend.

The follow-up KC AFTER DARK: More Music from Robert Altman's Kansas City is equally energetic, expressive and ebuillent, but missed the same flamboyant intensity by just a hair.

Also, for a smile-inducing treat read the liner notes on how this recording was done in the confines and context of the movie being made; it was recorded live for the soundtrack as well as for the various "takes" during the filming -- believe that!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Emanuel on March 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Though the movie is painful to watch, its soundtrack is stunning! Like movies where the script was written around the already-planned special effects (MI2 for instance), Altman wanted to craft his work to highlight the music of the era. However, while these special effects movies then become eye-candy, "Kansas City" produces its own sweets: soul-candy! There is not a poor track on the CD. By far, James Carter's rendition of Ben Webster's solo on "Blues in the Dark" is really a high point. The band's rendition of Basie's ahead-of-its-time "Queer Notions" is also absolutely spine tingling when listened to at the right volume. Like sitting in the Hey Hey club in 1937, not 6 feet from the smokey stage. Faithful and respectful to a golden moment and place for jazz, this is not an album for the faint at heart
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