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Various Artists: Crime Jazz: Music in the First Degree

From the days of in-theater accompaniment to today’s soundtrack, music and film have been inseparable. For the audience, the entry of music is an indispensable element that enhances, clarifies, intensifies and relieves the visuals that unfold in the darkness. Once talkies came in, the soundtracks were often grandiose bits of faux classique. With the advent of the ’50s film noir genre, jazz became the music of choice. These gritty, B-movie pulp fictions of anti-heros, losers, hoods, bad cops and smokey broads were indelibly enhanced by the black and white starkness of jazzy saxes, melancholy trumpets, nervous highhats and portentous bass walks. Later in the decade, noir jazz became the de rigueur sound of television’s urban crime dramas. With its two Crime Jazz compilations, Rhino skims the cream of jazz noir’s golden era (1950-1965), giving long-overdue validity to the subgenre. From the jagged edginess of the theme from The Asphalt Jungle to Henry Mancini’s immortal “Peter Gunn” and “touch of Evil” to the running tension of “Prison Break,” Crime Jazz Vols. 1 and 2 are virtual walks on the wild side.

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