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July/August 2006

Bob Belden
Three Days of Rain
Sunnyside

Duke Ellington’s Anatomy of a Murder, Miles Davis’ Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud and Herbie Hancock’s ’Round Midnight are probably the greatest examples of jazz film scores. Bob Belden’s jazz soundtrack for Three Days of Rain must now be added to the list.

The film, written and directed by Michael Meredith and starring Peter Falk and Blythe Danner, transposes six stories by Chekhov into modern-day Cleveland. Belden’s music portrays the psychological tensions, complex ironies and tragic destinies of the Meredith-Chekhov plot lines and characters. The album’s full independent realization as music is remarkable for a film score. Also remarkable is its aesthetic unity, given that its 13 tracks are performed by 10 different personnel configurations. The most compelling voices are those of Joe Lovano (who hails from Cleveland, who stays “in character” and who plays some of the most suggestively moody tenor saxophone of his career) and strong trumpeter Scott Wendholt. Pianists Kevin Hays, Marc Copland and Jason Moran (the latter for just three solo minutes on “End Title,” extraordinary and enormous) are also effective.

Belden’s music is like a melodically rich, meticulously structured, through-composed suite, creatively interpreted by the players. Paradoxically, it works because it is true to its cinematic support function, yet the music will almost certainly outlast the movie that engendered it.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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