John Williams

Rosewood [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Filmmaker John Singleton originally tapped Wynton Marsalis to score Rosewood, his 1997 feature based on the events of a 1922 race riot in Florida. After deciding Marsalis' brooding jazz themes lacked the gravitas the project required, Singleton turned to John Williams in the wake of the composer's heavy-handed but Academy Award-winning music for another historical drama, Schindler's List. Though relatively little-known by comparison to its predecessor, Rosewood is by some distance the superior score -- with its electrifying gospel vocals, blues-inspired melodies, and backwoods arrangements buoyed by fiddles, harmonicas, and jaw harps, the music boasts a potent authenticity rooted in both Southern culture as a whole and the black American experience in particular. Most striking are three original hymns showcasing gospel legend Shirley Caesar, whose performance captures the rage, pain and exultation of the civil rights struggle in searing detail.

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