Henry Mancini

Breakfast at Tiffany's [Music from the Motion Picture Score]

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This soundtrack to the movie adaptation of Truman Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of Henry Mancini's best. The pleasing blend of pop (the perennial "Moon River") and swing stays fresh over the album's 12 tracks and shows off Mancini's considerable writing and arranging skills. The cuts range from the layered, big-band mambo "Something for Cat" to the transcendentally smooth lounge number "Sally's Tomato" with some vaudeville moments coming via "Mr. Yunioshi" (check out that banjo eating up the faux Japanese scales) and "Hub Caps and Tail Lights" (sounds like the "Addams Family Theme"). Mancini keeps the lounge/easy listening mood from collapsing in on itself with many fine jazz solos, a driving rhythm section, and his expert (yet pleasantly cheesy) handling of the liquid-toned chorus parts. He also strikes a nice balance here between his crime-jazz backdrops for the Peter Gunn TV show and Touch of Evil and the later, more streamlined soundtracks for The Pink Panther and Charade. Throughout Breakfast at Tiffany's solid program, Mancini makes it clear that he isn't just a peddler of Muzak but a fine composer. The 2005 Japanese BMG reissue offers crisp remastering to audiophile standards, similar to what was done with Elvis Presley's catalog in Japan -- the results are startling, with exceptionally vivid textures throughout, but nowhere more so than on "Moon River," where the opening quote of the central melody on the harmonica, the next instrumental verse picked up by the strings, and the third done by the chorus, all sound like they're right in your lap. The whole album sounds that way, with the result that all of the musicianship and Mancini's finely nuanced direction never seemed more up close and personal.

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