Henry Mancini: The Pink Panther

Big band including Plas Johnson, Ted Nash, Jimmy Rowles and Shelly Manne prowls through some top quality Hollywood charts

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This is the original score for the 1963 movie composed and conducted by Mancini. The title tune is a good jazz piece featuring Plas Johnson on tenor sax. No personnel details are given on the LP, but a little research reveals that it was a tasty West Coast line up with Jack Sheldon on trumpet, Ted Nash on flute and saxes, Jimmy Rowles at the piano and a bass player named Rolly Bundock. Shelly Manne was on drums.

As to that Panther theme the bop tenor and rhythm makes it a popular track. The tune itself has been played in pub and club bop sessions since 1963 and, along with the Flintstones theme, is a favourite with jazz musicians in clubs everywhere.

To match the French setting of the film Mancini included a piano accordion for several solos, played here by Carl Fortina. The Latin-flavoured It Had Better Be Tonight is heard on two versions, one instrumental, one vocal with unidentified singer.

The second jazz track is Royal Blue which is a neat, slow blues with well-structured solos from Rowles’ piano and Jack Sheldon on muted trumpet. The strings are rather heavy, but it works well on disc and probably worked even better in the movie. The closing Shades Of Sennett is an uptempo romp suggesting early silent movies.

The rest of the selections are smooth, string or accordion based pops with little jazz content. Occasional trumpet, tenor sax or piano solos provide some jazz flavours. Once again full marks to Speaker’s Corner Records for first-rate analogue mastering on this accurately reissued RCA vinyl recording. It’s distributed by Sieveking Sound.

Discography
The Pink Panther Theme; It Had Better Be Tonight; Royal Blue; Champagne And Quail; The Village Inn; The Tiber Twist – It Had Better Be Tonight; Cortina; The Lonely Princess; Something For Sellers; Piano And Strings; Shades Of Sennett (29.03)
Orchestra conducted by Henry Mancini. Big band including Plas Johnson (ts); Ted Nash (ts, f); Jimmy Rowles (p); Shelly Manne (d). RCA Victor’s Music Center of the World, Hollywood, September 1963.
RCA Victor LSP-2795