Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2014 March 17 • Monday

The 310th Soundtrack of the Week is another pair of jazz sountrack LPs reissued on CD by Fresh Sound Records. This time it's Dean Elliott's College Confidential and Neal Hefti's Syanon.

The main title for College Confidential is a confidently swinging number that recalls Elmer Bernstein's The Man with the Golden Arm, big band swing of the previous generation and even, in its use of bongos (played by Milt Holland), Henry Mancini's Touch of Evil.

After that it settles down with a light-hearted cue, "Faux Pas", with prominent flute and some Mancini-esque use of pitched percussive sounds.

"Make the Scene" is jazz combo stuff, probably source music. Things get more intense again with "Breakup" which features oboe and clarinet.

"Blues Train" is sultry big band stuff, with Ellington and Basie influences. Bud Shank and Ben Kanter play alto and they seem to be in a Johnny Hodges frame of mind. Also on the record are Shelly Manne, Jimmy Rowles, among others.

The rest of the record follows in the footsteps of one or another of the previous cues.

Syanon is a fantastic soundtrack, with occasional figures that recall Neal Hefti's famous theme for The Odd Couple. And what a group of featured players! Plas Johnson on tenor, Jimmy Rowles on organ, Howard Roberts on guitar, Red Mitchell on bass and Earl Palmer on drums.

The main title, "Zankie", is a slinky, moody tune, very unhurried and atmospheric while having an insistent and gentle rocking rhythm to it. When the strings come in, it's devastating.

The unmistakable tone of Plas Johnson introduces "The Perfect Beginning", a toe-tapping, swinging tune.

This is followed by a vocal number, "Main Street": "It's fun to be around the gang that's down on Main Street / They mean everything to me". It has a bit of a "Give My Regards to Broadway" thing happening.

"Blues for Hopper" is a pretty upbeat, frantic number, more like a shouter than a blues, with fantastic playing from Palmer and Johnson.

It's hard not to think of The Odd Couple again during the organ-driven "Hope". Shirley Scott also comes to mind.

Guitar introduces "Tonight's the Night", a driving piece with strings and horns takin center stage. Then there's a reprise of "Zankie", followed by boppish organ jazz in "Open House".

"Put Your Little Foot" has some pop/rock guitar and drums stuff going on but feels more like a cross between carousel music and a drinking song.

Then there's "Zankie" again and finally another vocal number, "The Whiffenpoof Song", similar to "Main Street".