One of the finest jazz soundtracks to come out of the '50s, The Man with the Golden Arm is taken from the Otto Preminger film of the same name. Preminger was always very jazz influenced, and on this film he took his chances with Elmer Bernstein. Although the entire film is not strictly jazz, the awesome dynamics and oddball structure of the music is very based in the genre. Admittedly, the soundtrack works a little better with knowledge of the film, but on its own it still shines as an excellent example of how good film music can get. Bernstein's control over the smallest details of the music is what gives it the energy it contains; his blustery horns and deep percussion are only the front while some gorgeous orchestration happens almost unnoticed behind the music. Fans of Bernstein should definitely give this a listen, as should any fans of mainstream musicians' reaction to the post-bop era of jazz. This is on par with Henry Mancini's brilliant Touch of Evil score and Duke Ellington's strikingly similar Anatomy of a Murder soundtrack.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
feat: Pete Candoli
feat: Shorty Rogers