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July/August 2000

John Barry
Playing by Heart
Decca Records

For this soundtrack to last year's underperforming romantic comedy starring Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands, John Barry, the legendary composer of the greatest film theme of all time (hint: James Bond), invokes the tragically romantic vibe of last-call in a tucked-away jazz joint. Academy Award-winner Barry, who has scored close to 50 movies ranging from King Kong to Body Heat to Indecent Proposal, takes the low-key approach here, setting aside his bombastic 007 leanings and settling for subtle strings, ruminative piano and the slow, pained trumpet solos of Chris Botti, a talented thirtysomething who studied under the late Woody Shaw. This is pretty lush stuff, folks-an accompanying bottle of wine and Duraflame log is highly recommended-but if you listen close enough you can hear the hollow pulse of heartache and heartbreak the movie ultimately failed to deliver (although Angelina Jolie was in the flick, so it couldn't have been that bad). Playing by Heart is one of Barry's most understated scores, and a lovely addition to his diverse mountain of work. By the way, as a bonus, three tracks by Chet Baker are also included here: "Tenderly," "You Go to My Head" and "These Foolish Things."

Originally published in July/August 2000
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