Okay, as with life, sometimes you have to take some chances. I did that once before by gambling on a special 12″ single (click HERE) featuring baby duckies riding motorcycles and it totally paid off. I made another such gamble this past week at ‘BJ’s Records & Nostalgia‘, by spending $9 on the soundtrack to the 1977 Clint Eastwood classic ‘The Gauntlet‘.
First off, just look at that album cover. How could you ever resist that? It’s got everything schlocky I love about the 70’s including muscles, guns and the exposed midriff of a scantily clad Sandra Locke. It’s, like, uh-mazing!
Secondly, the album features the jazz of Jerry Fielding who composed and conducted the entire soundtrack. Fielding was better known for creating avant-garde jazz soundscapes, but he tempers that angle of his approach here with elements of swinging big-band jazz, blues, and soul to create a series of tight, catchy instrumentals that are diverse enough to hold the listener’s interest but smooth enough to flow together nicely as an album.
‘The Gauntlet‘ nicely re-creates the feel of a cinematic experience by offering up an effectively balanced combination of gentle, soothing melodies (‘Bleak Bad Big City Dawn‘, which makes evocative use of Jon Faddis’ swinging trumpet lines over a mellow, piano-driven rhythm section) and driving, attention-getting action music (‘Manipulation on the Center Divider‘, which pits throbbing, Eastern-flavored percussion against percolating riffs from the horn section). Fielding finds one showcase for avant-garde tendencies on ‘The Box Car Incident‘, which builds from synthesizer drones and one-note string lines into a burst of militaristic horns and percussion, but it remains melodic enough to be compelling listening. However, the album’s key cut is the title track, a stunning instrumental that combines jazz with traditional film orchestration to create a thrilling synthesis of swinging horns and taut, militaristic rhythms. All in all, it’s a strong, consistently engaging album that is well worth a listen for any soundtrack buff whose tastes lean toward the “crime jazz” sound.
Best $8.99 I’ve spent, only, EVER!