Drummer/film producer Richard Baratta’s second album “Music In Film: The Sequel” (Savant)
Savant Records is delighted to announce the release of drummer Richard Baratta’s second studio album, Music in Film: The Sequel. Following its 2020 studio debut, Music in Film: The Reel Deal, which went on to earn a GRAMMY nomination for arranger and pianist Bill O’Connell and amassed over 3,000,000 streams on Spotify, the latest de Baratta merges the worlds of cinema and jazz again in a decidedly modern and fresh way. With Baratta at the controls of the drum chair, O’Connell returns as pianist and arranger alongside jazz heavyweights Vincent Herring (alto saxophone), Paul Bollenback (guitar), Michael Goetz (bass) and Paul Rossman (percussion). ). Over the course of 11 tracks, this top-tier set gives award-worthy treatments to familiar melodies from Austin Powers, Star Wars, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and more.
Prior to 2020, Richard Baratta was primarily known as a successful film producer. He has dozens of films to his credit, including six episodes of Spider-Man, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman, and countless others. But in the 1970s, Baratta was a young drummer on the New York loft scene, playing with John Stubblefield, Vernon Reid and Hal Galper. Living gig after gig had its moments, but when the opportunity presented itself in 1984 to enter the film industry (as a scout for Desperately Seeking Susan), the financial security was hard to pass up. His film career flourished and to date he has dozens of famous film titles to his credit.
Even fully immersed in the world of cinema, Baratta’s first love for jazz never wavered. In 2020, Baratta decided to officially re-enter the jazz world with the release of Music in Film: The Reel Deal. Baratta and the band’s take on classic film scores like “Alfie”, “Chopsticks” and “Peter Gunn” propelled the album to great heights, including a GRAMMY nomination for O’Connell in the category Instrumental arrangement for “Chopsticks”. “Alfie” and “Peter Gunn” have been certified hits on streaming services, with particularly impressive streaming numbers on Spotify and Amazon. The album received praise, and the fall edition of Jazziz Magazine that year featured Baratta in a glowing spread.
With all the accolades, a sequel was inevitable. Shortly after the debut album was completed, Baratta and the band were back in the studio for round two – and the results were bright and varied. There’s the Latin-tinged “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” which first appeared in Mike Nichols’ Heartburn (one of Baratta’s first big productions), on which Bollenback and Herring’s solos dazzle, and “Soul Bossa Nova of the Austin Powers franchise. On this mid-tempo cha-cha, solos by O’Connell, Baratta and Rossman play up the Afro-Cuban element while Herring’s solo reminds listeners that this Quincy Jones piece is also a blues.
Another selection that draws on Baratta’s rich cinematic background is Henry Mancini’s “Theme from The Pink Panther” (Baratta worked on the 2006 reboot). This one is a hard swing, with Baratta’s solo really going wild. A veteran of Gato Barbieri’s band, O’Connell suggested the saxophonist’s moving theme for “Last Tango in Paris”, here rendered in 5/4 time. Bollenback, Herring and O’Connell take monster turns in the spotlight, but keep an ear out for backing from Baratta and Rossman as they chew the odd meter to pieces.
Baratta chose the title song for the 1945 comedy Out of This World because the John Coltrane Quartet’s 1962 rendition of the tune was his “gateway to jazz”. His rendition offers a different approach with his otherworldly guitar lines, though Baratta certainly draws inspiration from Elvin Jones, especially in his batting work. The dreamy “Pure Imagination” tenderly slows things down, and things pick up with the shuffle right ahead of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Randy Newman’s theme from Toy Story. Tracks that are sure to please include the fun Star Wars megaverse “Cantina Band” which features a cheerful duel between Bollenback and Herring, and the New Orleans-style twist on the traditional “Man of Constant Sorrow”, which features on one of Baratta’s favorite films, O Brother, Where Art Thou. The trio treatment of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” (included here because it’s in Joker, another film Baratta notably worked on) is a highlight, before launching into “Volley for Jabali,” written by Baratta him -even and the only original composition here, written as a tribute to NEA Jazz Master drummer Billy ‘Jabali’ Hart.
While the album hints that Baratta might embrace more original music next time around, the drummer-producer is already picking the next movie-centric tracks to make into a trilogy. Until then, movie buffs and jazz fans can rejoice with Music in Film: The Sequel, which is sure to be another blockbuster.
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