Song of the Day: Henry Mancini, “Far East Blues”

One of the greatest composers of our time, Henry Mancini was a performer as well as being a composer, recording over 40 albums as a pianist and a flautist (it was actually the piccolo, but I didn’t know what the word for someone who plays piccolo is). This is from his 1960 album Combo!, about which Scott Yanow from AllMusic says:

Henry Mancini was a significant writer for films who used the flavor of jazz in some of his movie scores. Mancini gathered an impressive cast of top players consisting of trumpeter Pete Candoli, trombonist Dick Nash, Ted Nash on alto and flute, Art Pepper (sticking exclusively to clarinet), baritonist Ronnie Lang, pianist Johnny Williams (doubling on harpsichord), guitarist Bob Bain, bassist Rolly Bundock, drummer Shelly Manne, Ramon Rivera on conga, and Larry Bunker on vibes and marimba. Some of the dozen selections are relatively straight-ahead, while a few (particularly "A Powdered Wig" and "Scandinavian Shuffle") are a bit corny, especially in their use of harpsichord and marimba. There are a few strong moments (particularly from Candoli and Pepper) on such numbers as "Moanin’," "Sidewalks of Cuba," "Castle Rock," and "Everybody Blow," but the end results are not too essential. Overall, this is a compromise between creative jazz and tightly controlled music meant for a larger audience. A historical curiosity.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Henry Mancini, “Far East Blues”

    1. He really had so many great songs, including the theme songs from “Peter Gunn” and “Mr. Lucky,” “Experiment in Terror” (WGN used this as the theme for their weekly horror movie), “Moon River” (my parents’ favorite song), “The Pink Panther,” all the music from “Victor Victoria,” etc. etc. etc. He was a talent unlike most others.

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