Henry Mancini: Music for Peter Gunn

Henry Mancini: Music for Peter Gunn

by Harmonie Ensemble New York Harmonie Ensemble New York


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The music on this recording will seem so familiar, at least to U.S. listeners, that it may be difficult to imagine how much of a novelty it was when it first appeared. It was, in the words of annotator John Caps, "the first dramatic jazz to reach a general audience." The qualifiers are necessary, for jazz had certainly appeared in films prior to the television series Peter Gunn in 1958. But it generally connoted the underside of society, as in the jazz-flavored score of The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). The use of jazz to evoke a kind of urbane sophistication began with Henry Mancini's score to Peter Gunn, and the usage remains current in the second decade of the 21st century. What you're hearing here, in other words, is some of the most influential music of the 20th century, and it's good to have the whole score rather than just the ubiquitous walking-bass theme. One thing you get out of it is the ingenious way Mancini and the series' writers made the music both diegetic and extra-diegetic, as the film theorists say: both part of the action and external to it. The music is heard from the band at the roadhouse called Mother's where private detective Gunn meets his clients, but it also serves as conventional background music. One of the ingenious elements of Mancini's score is that, although the cuts are short, he blurs the boundaries between these and produces a cohesive whole; the main theme seems to propel the listener forward into the action of each episode, and it is picked up in parts in individual numbers like the rock & roll-influenced "Spook" (track 15). Mancini's lively and varied orchestration was influenced by that of jazz bandleaders Tex Beneke and Duke Ellington, but much of it, as well as the hooky melodic sense, is pure Mancini. New York's Harmonie Ensemble perform the music essentially as written, but they feel free to interpret it as to emotion and affect as might be done with any classic musical text. The result is an album as intriguing as it is just plain enjoyable.

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Product Details

Release Date: 08/12/2014
Label: Harmonia Mundi
UPC: 0093046762421
catalogNumber: 907624
Rank: 116103


  1. Peter Gunn Theme
  2. Sorta Blue
  3. The Brothers Go to Mother's
  4. Dreamsville
  5. Session at Pete's Pad
  6. Soft Sounds
  7. Fallout
  8. The Floater
  9. Slow and Easy
  10. A Profound Gass
  11. Brief and Breezy
  12. My Manne Shelly
  13. Blue Steel
  14. Blues for Mother's
  15. Spook
  16. Peter Gunn Theme

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