Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 September 12 • Monday

A Laurence Rosenthal double feature, Requiem for a Heavyweight and A Raisin in the Sun, is the 182nd Soundtrack of the Week.

Requiem for a Heavyweight comes first. The "Main Title" comes blasting out of the speakers with an aggressive brass statement. Percussion begins to stomp around and then the string section comes in with an impressively grand theme.

"Night Threats" is spooky, avantgarde jazz, a really interesting piece with brilliant use of percussion. It's been recorded exceptionally well, really letting you hear the space between the instruments.

A smoother, bluesier jazz feel pervades "Bad Deal", which is expressed by saxophone with very subtle percussion, bass and piano accompaniment.

"First Date" is a light romantic waltz. I wouldn't be surprised if the first date involved ice skating.

"Night Cap/Questionable Judgement" soothes at first but returns to the off-kilter weirdness of "Night Threats".

"Things Are Looking Up" is a soft, quiet and understated arrangement of the "First Date" music. The last piece—this is a very short score, only about sixteen minutes— is "The Soft Side", a very extended "First Date" with several interesting additions and variations.

Then it's A Raisin in the Sun.

"Main Title/The Chauffeur" introduces the main theme, a stirring and somewhat wistful melody, played mostly by strings. Then, presumably for the chauffeur, Flute and reed instruments come in, flirting with swing and then breaking into an upbeat jazz groove.

A different arrangement of the main title music, slower and sparser, provides the setting for the first half of "Memories of Big Walter/In My House There Is Still God". Somewhat tense dramatic writing takes over for the second half.


Then there's "Kitty Kat Cafe" which is unsurprisingly sultry and swinging, a kind of sleazy jazz/blues/boogie woogie hybrid.

The main theme echoes throughout "Meet Joseph Asagi/Asagi Departs" which is very sensitively orchestrated, with especially good writing for the harp and percussion.

"Stand Up, Walter Lee" begins with plangent string playing, goes into a kind of sparse and subtle jazz mood and then ends with a rock and roll shout.

"Flaming Spear"is three and a half minutes of exciting and reverberent hand percussion, a very cool track.

"How Bad Things Are/She Bought You a House" is similar to other cues that have extrapolated from the main title.

"Hurt and Pain/You Be the Head of This Family" starts out with another great, somewhat raunchy blues/jazz tune, this one getting some great support from the vibes. The second half is a return to the feeling of the main title.

The main title mood is encountered again in "The New House", and the roadhouse blues feel of some of the other pieces returns for "The Phonograph".

"The Welcoming Committee" is a short suspenseful cue that sounds a little playful. "Packing/Will Is Gone!" starts out sounding regretful and weary and builds to an atmosphere of anxiety and fear.

Things seem more cheerful in "Invitation to Niagara/On His Knees". I wonder why…. Then there's "He Came Into His Manhood Today (Finale)", which continues the various dramatic themes and ends with a reprise of the main title music.