John Barry

Playing by Heart [Music from the Motion Picture]

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In his 1996 review of the indie film Caught, movie critic Rex Reed paid the ultimate compliment to trumpeter Chris Botti -- who wrote the score and whose horn graced the soundtrack -- by comparing the young upstart's smoky style to that of a young Chet Baker. Botti has since gone on to great success in smooth jazz by combining a laid-back demeanor with attitude-filled grooves and picture-perfect melodies. Legendary composer John Barry -- whose resumé runs from Born Free to Dances With Wolves and, more jazzily, Body Heat -- loved director Willard Carroll's idea of lacing the soundtrack to the thought-provoking, multi-generational relationship film Playing by Heart with a handful of 1956 Baker quartet originals. Botti was an obvious choice when Barry chose to extend that vibe into the orchestral score, and the haunting album cover -- featuring a pensive Barry between Botti and a young Baker, both holding their horns, over a black background -- perfectly epitomizes the passing of the generational torch. The opening tune "Remembering Chet" captures the essence of the whole album; Botti's balmy trumpet sound wafts over Lee Musiker's elegant piano meditation as the orchestra breezes in and out of the background. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of rhythmic variation as the tracks progress. The classic, smooth, delicately bittersweet tones of Baker (on "Tenderly," "You Go to My Head," and "These Foolish Things" are interspersed between the Botti tunes, which creates a unique flow and shows a delicate contrast between the Baker's low tone and Botti's slightly higher pitch. Arranged this way, it's almost like listening to a one-of-a-kind lesson between legendary mentor and a student primed to carry on his legacy.

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