Richard Baratta – Music In Film: The Sequel

NY sextet including Vincent Herring and Paul Bollenback puts the jazz into cinema themes such as The Pink Panther and Last Tango In Paris

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After some years of scuffling trying to make a living around the New York jazz scene, drummer Richard Baratta moved into the film industry and from the 1980s was responsible for a number of soundtracks. In recent years his attention returned to performing, the result being Music In Film: The Reel Deal in 2020. As the title of this album indicates, here we have the sequel. Using the same personnel, it is a further collection of covers of music from films, some familiar, others less so. The result is a bit of a mixed bag.

The strong alto of Vincent Herring is well utilised, as is the piano of Bill O’Connell, who also was responsible for the arrangements, and naturally some lively drum interjections from the leader.

Baratta takes the opportunity to stretch out on The Pink Panther, which is taken at tempo with imposing solos from O’Connell, Herring and guitarist Paul Bollenback, their neat interchanges bringing it together towards the end. Baratta also provides the Latin stamp on Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova, aided by Paul Rossman’s congas, and on an impressive rendition of Barbieri’s attractive theme from Last Tango In Paris, the contributions from guitar, alto and piano reflecting the energy and feeling of the original.

You’ve Got A Friend In Me seems a little too bland for this group and Cantina Band is, I’m afraid, largely a bit of frippery. It’s rescued to some extent by some nice interplay between the front liners, but a suitably spacey and increasingly propulsive Out Of This World helps make up for it, as does a particularly lyrical and evocative version of Smile, performed by the trio of Baratta, O’Connell and bassist Michael Goetz; it’s the highlight of the album.

Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka, is treated as a warm ballad, but just as your kids might recognise that, they may also sing along with Itsy Bitsy Spider (Incy Wincy in the UK) if you’re not careful. A water spout too far for some.

Discography
Itsy Bitsy Spider; Soul Bossa Nova; Theme From The Pink Panther; Last Tango In Paris; Out Of This World; Pure Imagination; You’ve Got A Friend In Me; Cantina Band From Star Wars: A New Hope; Man Of Constant Sorrow; Smile; Volley For Jabali (61.59)
Baratta (d, pc); Bill O’Connell (p); Vincent Herring (as); Paul Bollenback (g); Michael Goetz (b); Paul Rossman (congas, pc). New Jersey, January 2022.
Savant SCD2201