Michael Zerang

Redmoon Theater's The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny (Original Score)

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Free improvising drummer Michael Zerang wrote the music on the CD The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny for the Redmoon Theater, a puppet theater company from Chicago. Oddly enough, Zerang himself does not play on the album, leaving drum duties to Fred Armisen, accompanied by Jeremy Ruthrauff (saxophones, flutes) and regular collaborator cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (also featured on bass). The music goes from straight jazz vignettes to exploratory tracks verging on free improvisation. Rhythm plays an important role throughout, from the vaguely African-sounding percussion pattern in "Bad Dreams" to the square riff and beat of "Strong Man." Tria Smith sings on two tracks and also plays accordion on one of them. The 21 pieces provide short musical moments that one's imagination is free to link to the puppets' movements. There is wit and a sense of entertainment in Zerang's score that makes it enjoyable, but The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny remains a minor work in his career.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny, incidental music
1 2:13
2 2:23
3 1:49
4 2:13
5 4:17
6 3:16
7 7:35
8 1:48
9 2:39
10 3:25
11 1:42
12 4:24
13 3:09
14 2:29
15
4:03
The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny, incidental music
16 2:27
17 1:54
18 3:42
19 2:35
20 2:32
21 2:14
blue highlight denotes track pick