Round Midnight, Bird,Straight, No Chaser

DEXTER GORDON Round Midnight ORIGINAL PRODUCER: Herbie Hancock REISSUE PRODUCERS: Didier C. Deutsch, Darcy M. Proper Columbia/Legacy 85811 CHARLIE PARKER Bird ORIGINAL PRODUCER: Lennie Niehaus REISSU

With characteristic initiative, Legacy has reissued remastered, expanded editions of three innovative soundtracks to jazz films—Bertrand Tavernier's Round Midnight, Clint Eastwood's Bird, and Charlotte Zwerin's Straight, No Chaser. Set in an evocative Paris, 1986's poetic Round Midnight revolves around charismatic saxophone legend Dexter Gordon, who plays a composite of troubled geniuses Lester Young and Bud Powell. Although it was his first acting role, Gordon was utterly compelling and natural; moreover, the score has his Promethean tenor sax as its prime mover. Masterfully produced by pianist Herbie Hancock, the soundtrack frames Gordon with a world-class band that includes Hancock's Miles Davis alumni Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and John McClaughlin. Providing additional star-power are guest vocalists Chet Baker, Bobby McFerrin, and Lonette McKee. Another remarkable aspect of Round Midnight is that all this music-making was done live on set—a first for a fictional feature film. As a bonus track, the reissue showcases Gordon in a 13-minute live version of the title song, from 1976 at the Village Vanguard. While Round Midnight represents the essence of organic music-making, the album to 1988's Charlie Parker bio-pic Bird has technology to thank for its appeal; soundtrack producer Lennie Niehaus set vintage recordings of Parker solos in newly recorded contexts with top-flight modern musicians. More successful than similar efforts at grafting Caruso vocal lines onto modern orchestrations, this strange hybrid serves as a fresh way to experience Parker's timeless art. For the soundtrack to the 1989 Thelonius Monk documentary Straight, No Chaser, longtime Monk producer Orrin Keepnews put together a set of live and studio rarities, plus some dialogue from the film. For its bonus track, the album includes Monk's expansive 1967 studio take on the title song. Keepnews supplies typically insightful liner notes to the reissue, as does Tavernier for Round Midnight and Niehaus for Bird.—BB

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