Warning: a quirky post, even by LJC standards, enjoy the ride!
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Joe Kraemer, composer, keyboard/synths (below left); Andrew Cartmel, writer and music curator of vintage jazz tracks (below right).
Joe Kraemer is an American composer best known for big budget Hollywood blockbuster film scores, including (Original Sound Track Theme links) Jack Reacher (2012), and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), two favourite Tom Cruise action movies – rogue states, rogue agents, super-villains, plot-twists that tie you in knots, edge of seat cliff-hangers, stunts, car-chases, explosions, and of course film score music.
What’s this got to do with jazz? Stay with me. Joe Kraemer is a good friend of British TV scriptwriter, novelist and playwright Andrew Cartmel. Andrew was a writer of early episodes of the long-running TV series Dr Who, and more recently, author of The Vinyl Detective series of novels. He is a jazz fan and has a side-line in writing insightful liner notes for 60’s British jazz records, like the BBC recordings issued by Gearbox. Cartmel also happens to be a good friend of LJC, with a shared interest in modern jazz, analogue hi-fi and French wines. You can see where this is heading.
Last year an idea came together, no doubt helped by the French wine-maker from Bergheim, Alsace, Marcel Deiss. Deiss has revived the traditional viticulture specialty of “complantation“, creating a blend of thirteen Alsatian grape varieties. Instead of blending those different grape varieties grown in different vinyards, Deiss grows the different varieties of grape along side each other in the same 32 hectare vinyard, a common terroir: planted, harvested and fermented together. Forget sweet cloying Gewurtz or Germanic Reisling, the resulting Alsace blend is balanced, beguiling, complex and magnificent.
But I digress. Cartmel’s vision was to create a 60s vintage modern jazz compilation, a complantation of essential jazz tracks, in the form of a vinyl LP complementary to his Vinyl Detective novels. Cartmel curated the selections, LJC performed a few tricks with Audacity and dbPoweramp to create the source wavs, and Kraemer volunteered to write the Vinyl Detective signature theme. Licensing, audio transfers, vinyl mastering and pressing were organised by a Dutch specialist team, artwork commissioned and printed, and the vision featured here was realized.
A lunch conversation last year between Kraemer, Cartmel and LJC provided a surprising insight into Hollywood film music production. There is a lot of creative tension between film producers and composers, and it takes guts to argue with Steven Speilberg or Tom Cruise! I noted the importance of keyboard synths in producing film scores. No-one today can afford days of studio orchestra sessions to produce candidate compositions for a scene, when they can be created through the tonal palette of modern synthesizer voicings.
As you might expect of a Hollywood composer, Joe Kraemer has an encyclopaedic knowledge of film scores. In a discussion on the most icon moments in film music history, I proposed the shower-scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Kraemer proceeded to vocalise the slashing-blade shreik score, note for note. One hell of a party-trick!
Flashback! Things were different sixty years ago, when in December 1957, Miles Davis and his European quintet – Barney Wilen, Rene Utreger, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke – sat in a Paris studio in front of a continuous film screening of Louis Malle’s Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud. “It was a great learning experience,” Miles wrote in his autobiography, “because I had never written a music score for a film before.” The soundtrack was partly scored, partly improvised, and completed in just four hours, by five young men with acoustic instruments, staring intently at a black and white film projection, and listening intently to each other.
Scene: Jeanne Moreau is waiting for her lover, who she has arranged to meet after he has shot her husband in the building in which they both worked. But he’s late, and she’s wondering what has happened. . . You know how that must feel, don’t you?
Another great film jazz score, also set in Paris, is Gato Barbieri’s Last Tango In Paris (1972), a circling hypnotic theme arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson. “Suspenseful jazz orchestration, an air of erotic longing, melancholy despair, and doomed fate” (AllMusic)
Original Sound Track: Gato Barbieri, tenor saxophone, flute; Franco D’Andrea, piano; Franco Goldani, Wolmer Beltrani, accordion; Jean-François Jenny-Clark, Giovanni Tommaso, bass; Pierino Munari, drums; Afonso Vieira, percussion, berimbau; Ivanir “Mandrake” do Nascimento, percussion, tambourine; Oliver Nelson, orchestra conductor.and arranger, Original Sound Track 1972, United Artists.
Vinyl rip added Oct.26th! – Gato Barbieri Last Tango – from Gato’s reprise album “Apasionada” (Polydor, 1983) a very upbeat electric fusion presentation, of it’s time:
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(Note: these two film jazz tracks are not part of the Vinyl Detective LP, just added by LJC for context of film jazz scores).
The Vinyl Detective
But I digress, again. Cartmel’s Vinyl Detective character hunts down rare and desirable records on private commission, a fast-paced search which combines crate-digging with danger, adventure, and the occasional murder, in the company of an endearing collection of characters: love-interest Nevada, friends Tinkler and Clean Head, and his cat. It is set, not in Paris, but in a varied British landscape of West London and the Home Counties. Along the way, vinyl rears its beautiful head, rich on collector detail, though music of genres including rare and collectible punk singles, 70’s psychedelic rock, as well as modern jazz, according to the plot.
Now on its fifth book in the Vinyl Detective series, Cartmel’s novels are now being published in other languages: the German edition is selling well, a Japanese edition could be a surefire winner, certainly among Disc Union buyers.
The Vinyl Detective LP is a compilation of iconic 60’s tracks which includes female vocalists Cartmel is partial to, including Lucy-Anne Polk, Joanie Sommers, Bettie Carter and our own Blossom Dearie, mixed with favourites from Miles Davis, Mal Waldron, Yusef Lateef, Charles Mingus and Cannonball Adderley . It sounds remarkably good on vinyl, though digital sources, and features an unusual lock-groove in the vinyl runout – a repeating verbal instruction to play it again, and on the other side, to turn it over. Sound advice.
Vinyl: Vinyl Passion VP 90129
Ear and LJC stamps are
In the early days of the LJC blog, I toyed with the idea of record collectors being “vinyl detectives”, steeped in the minutiae of clues to vinyl provenance, essential in the pursuit of Blue Note and other vintage labels.
Unknown to me at the time, author Andrew Cartmel was writing the fictional Vinyl Detective novels, based on a failed London disc jockey who scratches out a living by scouting collectible LPs in thrift shops and used-record stores, to resell at inflated prices. Sound familiar? Our London sleuth is also for hire, at a generous hourly rate, to seek out and find particular rare records, which inevitably ends up in adventure, danger and sometimes, murder.
In the world of the internet, it was inevitable that our paths would cross, and continue to develop our common interests, including the white wines of the Rhone and Alsace’s Marcel Deiss, hi-fi, modern jazz on vinyl, and this collaboration, The Vinyl Detective LP.
Connoisseurs of vintage hi-fi will appreciate Andrew Cartmel’s choice of 1960’s British turntable, the Garrard 301, the first transcription turntable that played at 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 rpm speeds: robust, minimalist and beautifully built. Fittingly, it is pictured here with a 60’s vintage British Esquire label LP, licensed US Prestige recordings from the golden years, pressed with original US metal.
LJC commends to your bookshelf an escape into the fast-paced and light-hearted world of The Vinyl Detective, the fictional pursuit of rare and valuable records, a welcome change from the same pursuit in the real world battleground that is Ebay, and which only rarely involves murder.
Full length Vinyl Detective theme (Kraemer) – LJC vinyl rip
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The full film-score is of course an ideal backcloth to the vinyl detective’s domestic routine : ironing, hoovering, washing up,and filing late tax returns, before rejoining the chase…for those rare and desirable records.
Read more here (Kindle extract, from Written In The Deadwax)
Any film-score jazz, welcome nominations.