This hip little volume by Ennio Morricone on the Kind of Blue imprint is mistitled. It should read, "Selections from the Bossa Nova and Samba Soundtracks," since there is nothing here that even remotely resembles a full score. That small complaint aside, the 20 cues range from just under two minutes to a shade over five in length; they represent the depth of the composer's understanding of both bossa and samba -- harmonically and rhythmically -- and how wide a sonic and textural palette he was able to employ when illustrating them. All the music here was recorded between the mid-'60s and the early 1980s. "Belinda May," from the 1969 film L'Alibi, is a satiny samba with bermibau and harpsichord pattered against a trio of female vocalists and a pastoral string section. "Bianco, Rosso e Verdone," the title theme from the film of the same name from 1981, uses a cheesy analog synth along with harpsichord, layered hand drums, and a nylon string guitar as a frame, as female voices sing different percussion parts. "Walzer Bossa Nova," from the 1964 film I Malamondo, weaves flute, cowbell, harp, a Walter Wanderley-esque organ (perhaps this is where the title came from?), and upright bass in one of the prettiest jazz-meets-bossa grooves to emerge from Europe during the era. "Menage All'Italiana," from the 1965 film, weaves a driving samba beat -- articulated via vibraphone -- to Farfisa organ and a trumpet playing the melody of "Here Comes the Bride" over and over again. Any way you slice this compilation, it displays Morricone as not only a master of texture, dynamic, groove, and orchestration, but his sense of both rhythm and the exotic were visionary. This is a budget-priced collection and one every fan of the master needs.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek