Television Music

  • Cops & Detectives From Quinn Martin Classics

    If you watched network television in the 1970s, or have since come to explore cop and detective series of the period, you will have come across Quinn Martin Productions.  QM was basically the go-to company for action-adventure television and essentially dominated network television throughout the 1970s.  Perhaps its most memorable series were The FBI (1965-1974), Cannon (1971-1976), The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977), and Barnaby Jones (1973-1978).  Producer Martin also hired some of the finest names in the business to provide music for these programs often taking a personal interest in the end results.  He kept a massive collection of the series music which has now been archived with the Film Music Society.  This is the source material for La-La Land’s latest release featuring an interesting collection of music from across eight different series.

    Disc One has plenty of things to recommend the set on its own.  The first is the pilot episode for Barnaby Jones, “Requiem for a Son” which features one of Jerry Goldsmith’s finest television themes and his score for the pilot episode.  The music certainly helps cement the thematic thread across these tracks which include a bumper, three main title versions, end credits, and a few experiments of ideas for “Barnaby”.  A second episode, score by Bruce Broughton, is also a nice addition.  The first disc is filled out with music for the short-lived Dan August (1970-71) which finds Dave Grusin fully utilizing his jazzier side.

    Music from Cannon is perhaps the greatest highlight from disc two.  John Parker’s memorable theme anchors the pilot movie and an episode from season one, “The Salinas Jackpot”.  The disc opens though with music from another short-lived series, Most Wanted (1976-77).  Lalo Shifrin’s main title for the series is unique in its use of synthesizer and the rhythmic pulses here will also date the music a bit.  The score explores some of the classic 1970s cop music styles of his more familiar film work.  Filling out the disc are some themes for shows that never really connected with audiences.  It is a rare chance to hear music by jazz arranger Duane Tatro (The Manhunter), a Nelson Riddle theme for Caribe, as well as an early Patrick Williams theme for Bert D’angelo/Superstar.  David Shire’s main title and end credits for Tales of the Unexpected bring things to a close.

    What really stands out across the two discs are the ways these different composers bring their own style and create a unique soundscape for a host of genre scores.  That the music is actually further engaging even if most sequences tend to be brief is actually even more reason to consider making this trip down memory lane.  The sound is excellent and the booklet does a good job of summarizing the overall programs and some of the music here without the track-by-track analysis which is unnecessary here.  It is worth noting that the second volume of music from Quinn Martin series is now also available from La-La Land.

  • Cinncinnati Pops Heads into Space


    Kate Mulgrew, narrator.
    Cincinnati Pops/John Morris Russell
    Fanfare Cincinnati 15
    Total Time:  64:26
    Recording:   ****/****
    Performance: (*)***/****

     Several years have elapsed since the last film music compilation from the Cincinatti Pops.  John Morris Russell, who assumed the music director post after Erich Kunzel’s departure, has continued to incorporate standard pops favorites while also expanding their repertoire with new arrangements and commissioned works.  That is also the case here on Voyage which is the orchestra’s 96th album and is being released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.  For this occasion, Russell has culled together a collection of music reminiscent of the Boston Pops Out of this World album.  Here though composer Michael Giacchino gets to be front and center.

    Giacchino was commissioned to craft an orchestral work that captured the anxiousness and exhilarating thrill of the moon landing.  The resulting work is also assigned as the album’s title, Voyage.  The ten-minute piece features warm thematic writing in the sort of Star Trek-like style.  It is a rather gorgeous work with nice percussion touches and brass writing, but it also feels as if it is providing nice challenges across the orchestra.  After the initial thematic statement, the music shifts into a fascinating blend of repeated motives in a growing dense, somewhat dissonant mass before a glorious unison appears (taking a page from Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra opening as used in 2001: A Space Odyssey).  Giacchino fans will appreciate hearing some of his familiar scoring tropes as they provide transitions into his always engaging, rich thematic writing.  Time will tell if the piece gets more opportunities for performances in the coming years.

    There are some nice surprises along the way.  Russell frames the film music selections with movements from the titular classical science fiction nod, Holst’s The Planets.  He uses “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” as an opener to get things off to a nice start.  Later the other popular, “Mars, the Bringer of War” will serve as a penultimate track.  Of the three, it has the best bite.  The album closes with Holst’s Venus movement which features a reading of John Gillespie McGee’s “High Flight”.  The reading is by none other than Captain Janeway herself, Kate Mulgrew.  Though, unfortunately, the album misses out on also including the theme from Star Trek: Voyager.  The tribute though to the moon landing, outlined in this text, does help provide a programmatic shape to the collection.

    Appealing first to a younger generation of music lovers, Russell kicks off the film music section with the title track to 2009’s reboot of Star Trek with Giacchino’s exciting new themes.  No science fiction film music compilation would be complete with at least some Star Wars music.  Here, we are treated to “The Jedi Steps and Finale” from Williams’ score to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Immediate comparisons between Williams’ own style and Giacchino’s can be made here as three selections from the latter’s score for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (“Jyn Erso and Hope Suite”, “The Imperial Suite”, “Guardians of the Whills Suite”) follow with about twelve minutes of music from that score.  It is also wonderful to see David Newman’s delightful parody score for Galaxy Quest being represented with the theme from that film.  On the orchestra’s Superheroes! Russell had included a suite that covered some of the great television themes of old.  Here Rebecca Pellett has created new arrangements of six themes in a new “suite” called Spaced Out! Favorite Sci-Fi TV Themes.  Each theme is assigned its own track which should satisfy fans who want to repeat any of them again.  One of the great surprises is that Williams’ themes from Lost In Space are included and used to bookend the collection.  The theme from the first two seasons kicks things off and the variation used for season three brings it to a close.  In between are brief covers of the themes for Battlestar Gallactica (sic), Dr. Who (the Ron Grainer version), Buck Rogers, and Space:1999.  This is the suite of favorites for Gen X-ers to be sure.  The other interesting selection here, and another nod that Russell keeps an ear open for new film music, is the inclusion of the theme from Justin Hurwitz’s score First Man (2018) which won a Golden Globe for best score this year.  The piece for harp and theremin makes for an interesting contrast to Giacchino’s more traditional commission which precedes it.

    Russell is wise to focus on more unique repertoire here which allows his orchestra room for their own interpretations of this music.  The sound here has a full, rich quality.  It might be just slightly bass heavy in spots (hard to tell on the downloaded version provided here).  The release is certainly filled with engaging music that is superbly played and well-sequenced. It also helps that there is not a lot of duplicated music here from other compilations.