Monday, February 11, 2008


Roy Budd, jazz pianist and film composer: born Mitcham, Surrey, London, 1947-1993.
Ron Carter, jazz double-bassist: born Ferndale, Michigan, 1937.

Mike Hodges' gangster epic from 1971 has long been one of my favourite genre movies, not least because of its killer soundtrack by veteran British composer, Roy Budd. The score here is brittle and chilling as the Newcastle-On-Tyne seedy glamour which pervades every frame like an incipient cancer ; think Erik Satie on heroin, accompanied by an entourage of jaded session musicians on a tabla, and you're almost there.

Allegedly a child prodigy who taught himself to play by ear, by the age of twelve Budd was something of a regular on television and at sixteen quit school prematurely to turn professional. The list of his scores for television and cinema rivals Lalo Schifrin.

It was a disgrace that some Hollywood hack received the financial backing to sandwich Sly Stallone in Michael Caine's shoes and set about yet another weary retread, but it had to come sooner or later. "Goodbye, Eric!", hello Morecambe.

The same cannot be said of Ron Carter's idiosyncratic take on Miles's "So What ?". Labelmate to Eumir Deodato & Gabor Szabo (hello Emmett), this legendary CTI recording artist played with the Miles Davis Quintet in the early 1960's and contributed three compositions of his own to 1965's "E.S.P". From the 1974 album, "Spanish Blue", this track would not have been out of place in Hodges' jaundiced vision of moral decay and vengeance.

I can see Carter reflected in the optics behind the bar. Black and White, blended on ice.


posted by ib


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Ron Carter...not a tune in my collection, so I dig hearing it...saw him at a little theater in Elmira, New York about 20 years ago with Jimmy Heath and Akira Tana...he's a mother of a bass player in just about any setting, isn't he?

Anonymous said...

Glad you like it, fusion 45. Ron Carter is relatively new to me, truth be told, or rather his solo stuff is... I knew of him previously more through his association with Miles. I would like to have been at that gig you mention there, but, yeah, he can certainly play some.

Glad you made it, too, past the intro there! Reading it back, that last line: "Black and White, blended on ice"... Sounds like i'm about to drop the needle on Stevie Wonder - "Ebony & iv-o-reee!!" Goddamn!

Anonymous said...

Your "black and white" line reminded of my dear departed Pop, who sold advertising by day and wrote detective stories at night (think Ray Bradbury mixed with Garrison Keillor, if you can imagine that). It sounded like one of those "she walked in through the back door, sat down next to me and order a Kahlua and cream. Black and white, blended on ice, she said, as she held her cigarette out for a light". Of course, this is spoken with a Humphrey Bogart accent. Jeff over at AM Then FM recently posted on another great bassist, Stanley Clarke.

Anonymous said...

fusion 45: your pop sounds like a very cool dude, indeed! My personal favourite of the old school Hard-Boiled was Jim Thompson (it's a bit obvious, i know - but when he was good, he was very good...), but i'm also very partial to a whole host of others. Thanks for the feedback. Will check out the Stanley Clarke too - thanks, man, for the "lead".

Anonymous said...

P.S. Ray Bradbury was a sensational writer! A lot like Philip K. Dick in the respect that the genre was secondary to the enthusiasm and necessity of writing for the sake of writing in the first place. Very, very good ; pulp be damned.