Johnny Richards was a forward-thinking arranger who incorporated Latin rhythms and dissonance, spending the early decades of his career working on Hollywood soundtracks before moving to New York City to contribute charts to Stan Kenton and leading his own band. Yet Richards has been badly neglected in the CD era, with few of his albums being reissued. This compilation is an important addition to his legacy, for it centers around an important, never-before-released soundtrack to the film Kiss Her Goodbye, shelved by Warner Bros. after the film (shot in Cuba) was seized following Fidel Castro's 1959 takeover. The source material came from a test pressing given to Richards by the label, which was tracked down by Uptown owner Bob Sunenblick, MD, with substantial help from discographers Michael Sparke and Jack Hartley in the identification of the musicians and song titles. The first 15 selections were recorded for the soundtrack, though they were likely only excerpted in the movie, as is typically the case, even though all of them are under four minutes. Some of the highlights include the breezy "Juke Jumps" (with fine solos by Phil Woods, Jimmy Cleveland, Burt Collins, and Ray Copeland), the mellow ballad "Shutters" featuring the trombone section and muted trumpet, and the suspenseful "The Baby's Missing" (showcasing Gene Quill's explosive alto). It is a shame that the movie was never completed, but at least Johnny Richards impressive soundtrack is finally available. The only previously issued track is "The Moon Is Yellow" from an LP by the Luis Tiramani Orchestra, with the arrangement credited to Tiramani but very likely ghost written by Richards. The final nine songs come from a pair of 1959 NBC radio broadcasts, with his mellow, playful original "Dimples" and lush, richly textured setting of "Laura" (both heard in two separate performances), which best display the arranger's gifts. The detailed liner notes and period photographs add value of this valuable, long lost music.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden
feat: Luis Tiramani Orchestra