More TV Music, Please

Back in late August, Film Score Monthly released a 5-disc set of music from a diverse group of TV series, spanning 1962-1976, although most really fall between 1969-1976, which is perfectly fine because there’s a lot of great music that hasn’t been heard in probably 40+ years.

Johnny (John) Williams, Leonard Rosenman, and George Duning have whole scores from their sixties work, and within the jazz idiom (as well as some fusion writing) there’s music by Dave Grusin, Don Ellis, and John Parker, plus lengthy suites of music by Gil Melle, whose jazz orchestra score for The Organization (1971) was recently released by Intrada.

Grusin’s music for Assignment: Vienna is fabulous, and I’ve never heard of John Parker before, but his music, based around Grusin’s series theme, is equally strong. There’s also Jerry Fielding in a lighter state of mind, and Lalo Schifrin’s music from Gene Roddenberry’s Earth II pilot which ran forever on syndicated TV stations because it had stars you kind of remember from something but whose names always evaded you.
The big gem for myself is Don Ellis’s music from The Deadly Tower, a 1975 TV movie starring Kurt Russell which is actually out on DVD, but only via the Warner Archives branch (read: rather pricey, U.S.-only, on-demand DVD-R).

I know FSM will have a follow-up set when the right combo of material falls into place, but the quality of this music ought to be a signal to other labels that a lot of really good TV music remains unreleased.
Since we’re still talking jazz, the world would be a better place if the scores for Starsky & Hutch appeared on CD. Lalo Schifrin’s title theme is all-tension, and the composer also contributed a number of scores before other luminaries took over, including Tom Scott, J.J. Johnson, and Shorty Rogers.
And since we’re still on the topic of jazz in TV, here’s an impossible request for anyone with similar sensibilities: Private Eye, the 1987 stillborn series created by former Starsky & Hutch writer/Miami Vice creator Anthony Yerkovich.

Pilot movie and series theme: Joe Jackson and a big jazz band.

Series episodes: Shorty Rogers.

And wouldn’t it be grand if Universal, who finally released The Six Million Dollar Man on DVD (albeit via an exclusive Time Life deal that ends in October of 2011), allowed someone like, oh, Intrada to release a big fat delicious set of music?

Why, you ask? Because the series theme and signature themes were composed by Oliver Nelson, a massively talented arranger, composer, producer, and superb soprano sax player in his own right.

If you’ve never heard of Nelson, Google his name, because he was associated with some of the finest musicians on the planet in jazz. Check out a few sound samples, because he was brilliant, and one could always tell when he was the arranger of an album, be it Stanley Turrentine’s Blue Note work, or Gato Barbieri’s score for The Last Tango in Paris.
I know some soundtrack label producer just noticed a light bulb glowing above their head…

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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