The Music from M Squad

Stanley Wilson

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The Music from M Squad Review

by Bruce Eder

Probably the best known of the jazz-inspired television soundtracks of the late 1950s other than Peter Gunn, M Squad features a title track by Count Basie and a set of 11 additional tracks authored by John Williams, Benny Carter, and conductor Stanley Wilson. Williams, who would go on to write the music for Jaws, Star Wars, et al., was at that time a jazz pianist and composer of growing reputation, and his work on this album really moves -- "The Chase" is almost more distinctive than the title tune (which eventually became the basis for the satirical series Police Squad). Carter's music makes up the bulk of the material here, and it is rich and moody, as well as featuring some of the best passages for the players to improvise on. "The Search" gives the composer a chance to stretch out on the alto sax and offers some beautiful passages for trumpets and trombones. John Williams also shows himself as an excellent jazz pianist throughout in this, the very first soundtrack success of his career. Stanley Wilson's conducting of the jazz orchestra is superb, giving ample room for the players to open up on the solos, and his compositions, while more conventional in nature than Carter's or Williams', are effective as well. Originally released as part of RCA's Living Stereo series, both the old LP and the new CD reissue offer extraordinarily rich and close sound with very detailed musical textures. (Italian import)

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