Miscellaneous: Lux and Ivy Dig Crime Jazz
Miscellaneous – Lux and Ivy Dig Crime Jazz
CD / DL
Release November 26, 2021
Subtitled Film Noir Groove And Dangerous Liaisons, this edition of the Lux And Ivy series features cool jazz themes from 1950s TV and movies that may have played a part in the Cramps’ trashy aesthetic. Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein and Miles Davis are among the contributors. Ian Canty tries in vain to get out of Dodge with the money …
This new collection seems to put forward the argument that American cinema and television played as important a role in developing the attitude of the Cramps as the raucous music of the 1950s and 1960s. Lux And Ivy Dig Crime Jazz is watching the music of these media, deviating from the usual horror-obsessed rock & roll, wild blues and weird country hillbilly. While jazz could be as far removed as it gets from the sound perfected by Interior and Poison Ivy, it was the backbone of the musical accompaniment to the black films and crime TV shows they cherished. The tension and drama that these works contained may have had an underlying effect on The Cramps’ music, so maybe an ensemble like this isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. At first glance.
In truth, the link is a bit shaky, but luckily that’s not what attracted me to this compilation. The idea of swinging, action-packed jazz recordings fascinates me and there is a lot of stuff here. For starters, the general public probably knows Henry Mancini best for the theme song The Pink Panther, but beyond that there’s a massive archive of top-notch work. Touch Of Evil from Orson Welles’ film is his first track here and he skillfully uses beatnik drums as an anchor for strings and brass to do the trick. His Son Of Raunchy is another from Touch Of Evil and is a more bluesy rock & roll stomp. In contrast, Lightly’s soft piano and jazz vibes are simply delicious.
Warren Barker may be much less famous, but his Nocturne Harlem meanders through the streets of the big city with vibrations lighting the way, as such a dismal trombone swings drunk. The Man With The Golden Arm, which featured an electrifying performance by Frank Sinatra as an addicting jazz drummer, is pretty well-known work these days, but that doesn’t make Elmer Bernstein’s theme any less cool, dramatic, or uplifting. . As far as movie tunes go, it’s right up there. Bernstein’s MacDougal Street Special by Johnny Staccato is less visceral, but it’s a very loaded and sympathetic jazz piece with nice guitar flourishes. The excellent big band sound of Staccato’s Theme also comes from the same movie.
Alex North’s Floozie is imbued with a real sense of impending doom and sordid grind and Kai Winding’s sinister Experiment In Terror works very well, with a few good keyboards helping to ramp up the tension. On television, Dragnet, created by its star Jack Webb who played outspoken Joe Friday, was one of the 1950s audience winners in the United States. Ray Anthony’s musical theme, written by Walter Schumann, created the right ultra-serious note for the soundtrack of the seedy side of city life in one of the earliest shows of police procedure.
Peter Gunn arrived on television later in the 1950s, but the dramatic, brassy and deep sound of the theme was another winner from Henry Mancini, who went on to provide a Goofin ‘At The Coffee House, Odd Ball, and the Delicate Beauty. late night’s A Quite Gass from the same source. Frankie Ortega and Sy Oliver came up with a touching and evocative piece After Sunset, for Peter Gunn too, and from 77 Sunset Strip, with his hip-talgic teenage idol Kookie, we have their zesty Lady In Distress.
Getting back to the movie, Chico Hamilton’s furious Jazz Club from Tony Curtis’ film Sweet Smell Of Success has voice action played to the pounding beat. The prolific Leith Steven contributes Daddy Long Legs from Private Hell 36 by Don Siegel and Generic by Miles Davis from the Louis Malle thriller Elevator for the Scaffold aka Elevator To the Gallows is as cool and pessimistic as one might speculate. Gerry Mulligan provides the final point to this ensemble with the aptly named short but menacing groove of End Title of Robert Wise’s I Want To Live.
Finally, there are some deviations from the themes of television and cinema present. Burt Bacharach co-wrote Paul Hampton’s bizarre Two Hour Honeymoon, which begins with a car crash and continues from the lyrical perspective of the crash victim. While it doesn’t come from the screen, this is probably where the Lux And Ivy connection runs the deepest. Bobby Troup’s original version of (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 may also seem a bit out of place, but since this is a piece of capital rhythm and blues, it would be rude to complain.
Ignoring for a moment the slightly tenuous concept of Lux And Ivy, this is a collection of high-quality musical selections drawn from the heyday of American cinema and television. The invigorating and flaming jazz sounds of Lux And Ivy Dig Crime Jazz hold up easily. For anyone looking for something far from the norm, this collection represents a refreshing and stylish look back. I enjoyed it very much, a top notch set of really atmospheric sound.
All of Ian Canty’s words – see his author profile here