Couple of days ago, I took the liberty to admit that, yea, though I love experimental noise and saxophone drillers, I also love exotica and lounge.
There’s only so much nostalgia I can write about in one week, after all, this is 2010. But maybe because it’s 2010, and the speed of events, the zeta-bytes of information, and our hurry to achieve whatever it is we’re trying to achieve, that makes us all unease and turn us to three year old infants when it comes to our lack of ability to focus and stick to one thing.
The day I found myself checking emails on my mobile, while in the toilet – I’ve realized I’m in deep shit. It’s all over the place, and I’m a part of this satanic mechanism of the world. I need to relax. So I went and start hitting these exotica/lounge records I love so much. This is heaven.
Henri Mancini‘s name is automatically related to the Pink Panther movie series, starring my all time fav actor – Peter Sellers.
Mancini’s music somehow fits perfectly with everything Sellers did. Sellers was a versatile actor, that often declared about himself that he has no personality of his own. The reason that he was such an amazing actor was because he wasn’t acting. He borrowed the characteristics and personality of the chosen role, and went along with it. A bit like Ringo in the depressed morning scene of Hard Day’s Night. And all he had to do was, act naturally.
Mancini’s music is somewhat the same, whenever jazz is nessecary – he’ll deliver the best jazz tune, when a mooshy strings melody is in need – he’ll deliver it. Distant vocals from the mountains? you got it buddy.
Mancini’s music often brings to mind associations of schmaltz and kitch music, some elderly nostalgia that was dyed pink with bubblegum even on real time. That’s probably due to tunes like Moon River and Tender Is The Night and others, not to mention the Pink Panther theme and other tunes appeared in that series. But you know, to treat this genius composer and arranger as a sticky nostalgia musician is being unfair about yourself. Forget about him, he doesn’t need your appreciation, god rest his soul. It’s just a pure loss for you, to overlook him.
Take for example the brilliant song Nothing To Lose, that French actress/singer/knock out Claudine Longet sings in The Party (1968). This is pure beauty and one hell of a complex jazz tune. I remember trying to find the chords of this song, breaking my fingers trying to play these tensions and 9th, 11th and 13th notes.
If you haven’t seen that movie, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, I should say this is probably my favourite slapstick movie ever. So funny and smart and full with little jokes and Sellers is having some of his best moments there. Actually, maybe I should give the stage to Sellers himself:
(btw, this movie is in charge of one of the better names for a indie band – Birdy Nam Nam).
Anyway, aside from the fantastic soundtrack, Mancini had many releases. One of his best album in my opinion, and one of the better exotica/lounge albums, is The Versatile Henry Mancini.
Mancini and his orchestra in an early album, shows the composer in a peak of a creative stage of his life. It was a moment were he wasn’t the big Mancini for the blockbuster Panther movies, and it was before his job in Universal studios brought him to collaborate for the first time with Blake Edwards on Peter Gunn, a collaboration that will lead to his breakthrough with Breakfast At Tiffany’s and later to the Panther.
The year it was released is 1957, and if I’m not mistaken it was his first proper release. It’s hard to find a proper information about Mancini, you maybe surprised to hear, but the 4-5 discography listings I saw contains different information and on his official website – this album doesn’t appear.
What makes this album so exceptional to himself, is that the melodies are looser, they are mellow and slow and passes a longing mood, without heavy orchestration. It’s mainly an organ, some accordion, fantastic guitar by Laurindo Almeida and on occasion some ghostly hums by Loulie Jean Norman.
The recording is very good, and the 2008 reissue has all the original mono mixes along with stereo mixes. Don’t ask me to determine which one’s better, I hate messing with different version in the same album. The arrangements are wide and airy, and allow the few instruments in every track to complete one another to create the finished product – a bundle of emotions. Seriously, this record is a must to have, because when you’re back from your horrific day and needs something to ease on your mind and don’t feel like dolphins music, this record will save your day. It’ll give you strength, hope and nostalgia in the price of one and will encourage you that tomorrow brings another day. Take the compassion and hug it strongly.
Buy : Insound