From the beginning of my crate digging escapades, I was always curious about TV and movie soundtrack music. From the 70’s Blaxploitation films to Hawaii 5-0 to What’s Happening? and beyond, I always loved them. A long time ago I came across a Mission Impossible and other themes Lp that encompassed some of today’s artist’s music. It had a variety of Funky nuggets on it, and I decided from that point on I would pick up anything I saw out in the field by this guy. This guy, as it turned out to be was Lalo Schifrin. An all around renaissance man in music, he has done it all. Here is one from his 1976 Lp Black Widow on CTI Records called “Quiet Village”.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1932 into a musical family (his father Luis was a concert violinist), Schifrin started playing the piano at the age of six. Enrolling in the Paris Conservatoire in 1952, and also putting in time on the Jazz scene at night, Schifrin was on his way. His career as a pianist, composer, and arranger would have him sessioning and recording all over Europe. Upon his return to Argentina, he formed a big concert band. It was in this band that Dizzy Gillespie would hear him. Gillespie asked him to join him in the United States as an arranger and pianist, and how can you turn down Dizzy? He would remain with Gillespie until 1962, turning out “Gillespiana” among other records. In 1963 he moved to Hollywood, where he would go on to score movie and television themes. His resume reads like a greatest hits of television and movie themes: Mission Impossible, Mannix, Dirty Harry, Bullit, Enter the Dragon, Cool Hand Luke, and modern day movies such as Rush Hour and Last Tango. He has won four Grammy’s, and is versatile as a musician, composer, and leader. He’s equally comfortable playing as he is leading and orchestra. Whether it’s a big band, bossa nova, Latin, or some Jazz Funk (as is the case here today), Lalo is your man.
Quiet Village could be from any 70’s action movie. With a slight Disco edge, but not too much (this is 1976), this foray into the dance floor for Schifrin is a definite showcase of his talent and versatility as a producer. Gathering up a mound of great musicians (Eric Gale, Hubert Laws, Joe Farrell, Pepper Adams, and Patti Austin to name a few), this South American musical genius proves that he can make it funk-kay. This song was originally written by Les Baxter in 1951 for Ritual of the Savage, and has also been done by Martin Denny. It’s great that Schifrin can take this piece of exotica and turn it into a nice Funk nugget, complete with a hard hitting beat and funky bass line. This is truly a great and of course funky interpretation of a classic. I hope you dig it as much as I do. Don’t sleep on the sound track composers, there are a lot of under rated records out there. Keep Diggin’!