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SETTLING OLD SCORES
on 18 October 2011
Vince Giordano has devoted his life to the pursuit of the jazz and big band music of the twenties and thirties. His interest was kindled at the age of five by a cache of 78s in granny's attic, and by the age of fifteen he was a working musician. His passion has developed in several directions, including collecting early sheet music and extant arrangements, transcribing other arrangements from shellac recordings, and recreating these sonic masterpieces through the medium of his New York based 11-piece Nighthawks Orchestra.
Martin Scorsese has become increasingly interested in the creation of what used to be known as period films, the period in question being the early part of the twentieth century. He and Vince have worked together in the past, most notably on the film "The Aviator", but the series "Boardwalk Empire" reaches new heights, as witness this first volume of soundtrack music. It kicks off with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's warhorse "Livery Stable Blues", replete with the whinnying effects which so startled listeners in 1917.
The tracklist credits favour the vocalists, but all but one of the accompaniments is provided by Vince's orchestra, the exception being the haunting Irish ballad Carrickfergus. I particularly enjoyed Regina Spektor's vocal on "My Man" which may sound syncopated by comparison with thirties recordings, but which accurately reflects its origins as a French vaudeville number. Kathy Brier gives a barnstorming rendition of Sophie Tucker's theme song "Some of these Days", and Leon Redbone's laidback approach to "The Sheik of Araby" is a delight. The inclusion of "Japanese Sandman" is particularly appropriate because Paul Whiteman secured his Victor contract at the phonograph company's 1920 convention in Atlantic City, and it was his first recording.
Every track of this CD is a delight, and a number of forgotten gems are included. Sound quality is nothing short of stupendous, and I envy New Yorkers, who can hear the Nighthawks in person at Sofia's Restaurant at the Edison Hotel every Monday and Tuesday evening.
NOTE: This CD has been nominated for a Grammy for best compilation soundtrack for visual media.