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Gato Barbieri: Last Tango in Paris Soundtrack

Smart film directors like Bernardo Bertolucci and Johan van der Keuken collaborate with composers, not just hire them. The results are soundtracks that can stand on their own. These two collections bear this out.

Not only is Music For His Films 1967/1994 the best collection of Willem Breuker’s film scores available on CD, it arguably offers more insight into his early work than any in-print CD. The rarities are in abundance. Pieces from the ’60s and early ’70s find the reedist/composer performing not only with improvisers such as bassist Maarten Altena, drummer Han Bennink, and saxophonist John Tchicai, but also with such esteemed composers as pianist Louis Andriessen and oboe player Gilius van Bergeyk. The collection also supplies a fine thumbnail history of the Kollektief with performances ranging from “The P.L.O. March,” which exemplifies Brueker’s mid-’70s edge, to ’94’s strings-augmented “On Animal Locomotion,” one of Breuker’s more seamless joinings of improvised space and detailed orchestration. Unlike some Breuker film scores, his work with Johan van der Keuken showcases the Kollektief’s deep bench; this 2-disc package greatly benefits from the solos of such present-day Kollektief members as bassist Arjen Gorter, trumpeter Boy Raaymakers, and altoist Peter Barkema.

The powerful, provocative score for Last Tango in Paris was composed by Gato Barbieri, who masterfully tapped the film’s seething passion in a few simple variations of a memorable main theme. Oliver Nelson’s orchestrations progressively tinted the material through the course of the film, deftly meshing profundo strings, wistful accordian, and Barbieri’s soaring tenor saxophone. It is one of the greatest film scores of all times.

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