Mike Garson

Screenthemes 94

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Discovery Records has unearthed a true goldmine these last few years with their collections chronicling the top movie themes of our time with a jazz sensibility. While the three Jazz at the Movies (most notably Film Noir have taken somewhat of a historical view of the medium, a more instant gratification can be found in the Garson arrangements of recent hits from '93 and last year. Despite differences in melody, most traditional movie scores follow a similar trail, subtle piano moments followed by booming orchestral crescendos. With sixteen cuts, the veteran pianist's greatest challenge was to individualize each arrangement and each theme's instrumentation so as to create sonic diversity. He succeeds in spades. While sticking with the traditional orchestra approach on the best pieces like "Forrest Gump" and "Legends of the Fall," he has slightly more fun with the exotic "Lion King" theme, a rocking "True Lies" and a smooth jazz take on "The River Wild." Garson infuses his own backgrounds in pop, jazz, soul and classical to give each cut a personality all its own. Though assisted by the likes of Grant Geissman and Eric Marienthal, its Garson's own inventive ivory touches which propel most of the work here, especially the Bach and Beethoven classics at the end.

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