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Anatomy of a Murder: From the Soundtrack of the Motion Picture (1959 Film) Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Soundtrack

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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MP3 Music, April 27, 1999
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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, April 27, 1999
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Editorial Reviews


"I like playing with music and its relationship to the theater, particularly in the supporting role," Duke Ellington remarked in an audio interview from the reissue of his splendid soundtrack to Otto Preminger's 1959 film, Anatomy of a Murder. "Doing the score for a picture really calls for being along with the action and absorbing all of the atmosphere [of] everything taking place in the picture." But as this CD--which includes 14 alternate takes--shows, the syncopated swing and soul Ellington and his men lay down steal the show. Just as Preminger moves and shapes his actor's characters, Ellington creates musical motifs that bring out the best in his musicians as well as the story line. The orchestra sets the pace with the fanfare-ish "Main Title," with tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves's candlelight tones. Johnny Hodges's upwardly mobile alto-sax cries signify the femme-fatale, hip-swinging rhythms of "Flirtibird," which segues into the finger-snapped "Way Early Subtone," with Russell Procope's cool clarinet. Other standouts include the ballad "Low Key Lightly," costarring Ellington's regal piano and Ray Nance's serenading violin, while "Midnight Indigo" is harmonically haunted by Ellington's crystalline celesta chords, Billy Strayhorn's telepathic piano comping, and Harry Carney's soul-stirring baritone sax. The insightful and authoritative notes by historian Phil Schaap and Wynton Marsalis, along with the alternate and rehearsal takes, give the listener a comprehensive overview into the movie's themes of murder, romance, and intrigue that Duke Ellington so brilliantly augmented and illuminated through jazz improvisation, big-band orchestration, and the blues. --Eugene Holley Jr.


Rarely has such sumptuous jazz been married to a film soundtrack. Written in 1959 for director Otto Preminger's courtroom drama of sex and jealousy, the burnished glow of Ellington's score is undeniably erotic - indeed, the powerfully charged, slow burn of the second track here, "Flirtibird," is among Ellington's most sensual recordings.

Classic film scores build on recurring motifs that identify characters and situations, amplifying their existence for the viewer through the sense of hearing. The "flirty bird" of the title - Lee Remick's Laura Manion - is evoked early on by a six-note phrase, with emotional hues that undergo dramatic changes every time it reappears along the score's course. "Way Early Subtone" expands on that phrase in a passionate, extended coda that tries to rekindle the flame; by the time of "Almost Cried," the melody has taken on a deep, hard-edged sadness.

The Ellington orchestra sounded exquisite in the early summer sessions that produced this soundtrack. With a burnished sonic brilliance reminiscent of the glorious 1940 "Blanton/Webster" edition of the band, and soloists like Johnny Hodges and Paul Gonsalves (whose masterful tenor saxophone solo on "Hero To Zero" is surrounded by some truly adventurous harmonies), Ellington's tightly woven soundtrack took on a life independent of its original context. In doing so, it became one of Duke's most satisfying albums.

--- Larry Nai, JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Main Title And Anatomy Of A Murder
  2. Flirtibird
  3. Way Early Subtone
  4. Hero To Zero
  5. Low Key Lightly
  6. Happy Anatomy
  7. Midnight Indigo
  8. Almost Cried
  9. Sunswept Sunday
  10. Grace Valse
  11. Happy Anatomy
  12. Haupe
  13. Upper And Outest
  14. Anatomy Of A Murder - (bonus track, stereo single)
  15. Merrily Rolling Along (Hero To Zero)
  16. Sunswept Sunday - (bonus track)
  17. Beer Garden - (bonus track, previously unreleased)
  18. Happy Anatomy - (bonus track, previously unreleased)
  19. Polly - (bonus track, previously unreleased)
  20. Polly - (bonus track, previously unreleased, movie stings)
  21. Happy Anatomy - (bonus track, previously unreleased, dixieland)
  22. More Blues - (bonus track, previously unreleased, P.I. Five)
  23. Almost Cried (Flirtibird) - (bonus track, previously unreleased, movie)
  24. Anatomy Of A Murder - (bonus track, previously unreleased)
  25. Anatomy Of A Murder - (mono single in stereo)
  26. Grand Finale, The - (bonus track, previously unreleased)
  27. Sound Track Music: Anatomy of a Murder [#][*] - Duke Ellington

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 27, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: July 1, 1959
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Soundtrack
  • Label: Sony
  • Run Time: 160 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000IMYH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,669 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
First, rent or buy the movie. "Anatomy of a Murder" is a classic courtroom mystery, arguably Otto Preminger's finest with a superb cast of stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Eve Arden, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott and others--even Joseph N. Welch: the man who, in real (as opposed to reel) life, put Senator Joseph McCarthy in his place. The film is in gorgeous black and white and boasts one of the best scores ever written for a film. Why this very 'adult' movie should have practically disappeared is another mystery.
After you see the movie and hear how the brash big band and intimate, mellow Ellington jazz illuminates the script, you can buy the CD and listen over and over. There are also stars playing the score: Ray Nance, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Shorty Baker, among others, are all beautifully featured.
Movie fans as well as jazz fans will be very happy they bought this Ellington treasure. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Format: Audio CD
While Elmer Bernstein is usually given credit for inventing the subgenre of the "crime jazz" soundtrack for Otto Preminger's 1955 film noir "The Man With the Golden Arm," Bernstein's score more or less stayed with the convention of wedding the music directly to the emotional import of the action onscreen. While he wrote some strong and visceral themes, and opened up a previously untapped genre (jazz) to the movies, Bernstein's score relies too heavily on one main theme, and lacks the cohesion of his later efforts. In 1958, Orson Welles hired composer Henry Mancini to write the score for his own noir thriller, "Touch of Evil," and Mancini's soundtrack really took the "crime jazz" soundtrack into previously uncharted territory, as Welles incorporated the soundtrack into the movie more as background music and raucous street noise than classic underscoring.
But it was with Preminger's 1959 courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Murder" that the "crime jazz" soundtrack really came to its full fruition. Whereas Bernstein and Mancini were classically-trained movie composers writing in the jazz genre, Ellington was one of jazz's true elder statesman, who had a refined interest in the classics, and his soundtrack for "Anatomy" is the most consummate of all jazz soundtracks, looking forward to Quincy Jones' backbeat scores. What Ellington brings at long last to the fore is the element of improvisation, which really gives the soundtrack an unpredictable bounce that works wonderfully vis-a-vis Wendell Mayes' unpredictable screenplay.
There are a number of listeners that regard Ellington as a fish out of water for this soundtrack, which they regard as a "nice attempt.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like Leonard Bernstein (not Elmer), the Ellington/Strayhorn team composed essentially only one "pure" film score (though "Paris Blues" has its moments). It's a good one, not only deserving its Grammy Award but contributing immensely to the characterizations and drama of a film Jimmy Stewart cited as one of his two favorites (how he could omit "Vertigo" defies human comprehension). Immediately the listener is apt to be struck by a "different-sounding" Ellington. It's as though he's taken the characteristic sounds of the "jungle music" from his Cotton Club days and inflected them with sufficient dissonance and thick orchestral textures to suggest a more contemporary jungle: that of the human psyche in mid-20th-century America or, to be more specific, the world of "film noir."

All the same, it won't take long for even the casual Ellington fan to recognize the stamp of the Maestro and his "instrument"--from Duke's downward arpeggios to the inimitable tonal "voices" of Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, and Cat Anderson (doing for this film what Bernard Hermann's famously screeching violins do for the unforgettable shower scene in "Psycho").

Sony (Columbia) has obviously spent money on this budget-priced digital restoration--from the research to the program notes to the out-takes and interviews as well as the digital processing itself. I listened to the album during a long car trip, and from the number of times I was forced to adjust the volume, it would appear that Sony's engineers decided to do without "dynamics compression," or "normalization.
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Format: Audio CD
Whatever the process was to Bring Duke Ellington,s score to this film was magical...and profound. Its 1959 , and even though some of Alex North,s scores had some jazz themes...films were not quite ready for what Mr. Ellington serves up here.
The scores edge frames the scenes and adds a distinct emotion to what we are seeing on the screen. The unexpected in riffs shows up and puts the viewer on alert that what we are seeing on the screen is chaos, witty entendre, story editing in its pure form..and stark reality with or without those panties!( riske stuff in 1959)
What is the real truth also is that we are not drowned out by the decibel level of this music..there is no need ..because it is pure Ellington..and pure Ellington adds a sophistication and tone to the characters and story line. It wouldnt be untill the mid 60,s ( The Pawnbroker..Quincy Jones) , that a filmgoer could experience a dynamic score ...Bravo Ellington...
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