Ennio Morricone - Psichedelico Jazzistico

Mention Ennio Morricone as a film composer and you’ll instantly recall his sterling work on Sergio Leone’s mid-sixties’ Dollars trilogy, in which his film scores grabbed the spaghetti western by the throat and branded it his own almost overnight. Mention Morricone, and you’ll also instantly recall his haunting efforts from the eighties, such as the majestic beauty of Roland Joffe’s The Mission or Giuseppe Tornatore’s deeply poignant Cinema Paradiso.

Conveniently, él records have released a compilation that helps to join the dots between these two periods, notably the late-sixties and early-seventies. Entitled Psichedelico Jazzistico, the selected cuts on offer cull all of the strongest themes from what was essentially a non-Hollywood era for Morricone. This period saw the Italian composer boldly experiment with changing avant-garde styles and a looser, more liberated attitude in European cinema. It was also a period that saw the psychological-thriller genre flourish, hence three eerie cuts from Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage open Psichedelico Jazzistico, and slip effortlessly into selections from Argento’s Four Flies On Grey Velvet, itself pushing towards more haunting territory. You can sense Morricone’s desire to break away from conventional scoring and opt for a more eclectic, jazz-based sound, typified by contemporaries such as Lalo Schifrin and Bernard Herrmann.

Sexual study One Evening At Dinner is far more lounge-like with regards to Morricone’s approach, and at times there are even shades of Bacharach-style chord-transitions that casually sit within the background, or a rockier Hugo Montenegro-styled angle. Italian romantic-drama G-Force throws in two contrasting themes - Sospeci fra le Navole is characteristically dramatic, whilst Forza G is all edge with pulsating bass-line. Studio di Colore is similar, taken from the 1969 She And He. Investigation Of A Citizen Under Suspicion is by far the tensest of Morricone’s offerings. The only pity is that the final two extracts, taken from Il Gatto, were recorded in the late-seventies and sound overly-dated in their reliance on keyboards. Still, Mariangela e la Seduzione is novel in that the lead female vocalists manages to sound like she is singing and being pleasured at the same time.

Whilst deliberately skimming the surface over a period of almost fifteen years, Psichedelico Jazzistico still serves as a perfect bridge between most casual collections of ‘classic’ Morricone recordings. It will save you paying over the odds for that rare import, and it streamlines the late-sixties and early-seventies period of Morricone down to his collectible essence. Psychedelic jazz indeed!

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