Lalo Schifrin has had an amazing career in the fields of symphonic music, jazz, and especially soundtracks. Although his name may be more familiar to those of us who pore over soundtrack credits, I guarantee you have heard at least something by Lalo Schifrin. He has composed over 100 television and film scores, and a few of these include Mission Impossible, Mannix, Cool Hand Luke, Bullit, The Cincinnati Kid, The Amityville Horror, Enter the Dragon, four of the Dirty Harry films, and the recent Rush Hour trilogy. Believe it or not, even at over five hours of music, the new four-CD box-set Lalo Schifrin: My Life in Music barely scratches the surface of the composer’s incredible 50-year career.
As a self-confessed soundtrack nerd, I was familiar with quite a few of Schifrin’s TV and film work, but was a little surprised at how much he has accomplished in the fields of jazz and symphonic music. He has over 60 classical compositions to his credit. Personally though, I found his series of Jazz Meets the Symphony albums to be especially notable. There are selections from all seven of these titles, and in listening to something like “Paraphrase” from Kaleidoscope: Jazz Meets the Symphony #6, one begins to realize just how far reaching his talents are.
The late Dizzy Gillespie certainly understood this. In 1960, Gillespie commissioned Schifrin to compose an entire album for him, which was released on the Verve label as Gillespiana. “Panamericana,” and “Toccata” are included in the set, and they are brilliant. In fact, Schifrin recorded a total of ten albums with Gillespie, and they are probably all worth looking into. Schifrin’s work in jazz has been extensive though, and goes far beyond his collaborations with Gillespie, and the Jazz Goes to the Symphony series.
While the following may not hold the record as the longest album title ever, The Dissection and Reconstruction of Music From the Past as Performed By the Inmates of Lalo Schifrin’s Demented Ensemble as a Tribute to the Memory of the Marquis De Sade is certainly right up there. The 1966 recording included over 20 jazz musicians, including Richard Davis, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, and Kai Winding. Another side of Schifrin’s compositional talents which I was previously unaware of is his extensive work in Latin music. One of the more memorable titles in this field included on the set is “Montuno,” from the Latin Jazz Suite.
With a total of 73 tracks, including eight which are previously unreleased, there is a wealth of music in this collection. I find it a little hard to believe that something as powerful as the “Main Title” from the Joe Kidd film falls into that previously unreleased category, but there you go. It just sort of shows the incredible range of talent of the composer, and the wealth of material he has created over the course of his 50-year career.
Lalo Schifrin: My Life in Music was released to coincide with Schifrin’s 80th birthday. Besides all of the great music, there is also a 48-page book included, filled with photos, notes, and memorabilia from his extraordinary career. As if any more credits are needed, I should mention that he has been nominated for the Grammy Award 22 times, and has won five. He has also won the Cable ACE Award, and has been nominated for six Academy Awards.
After listening to this collection, one comes away with the realization that My Life in Music is still basically “just” a Lalo Schifrin sampler. The man has had an incredible career, and it is not over yet. This set (released by Aleph Records) is a great place to start in getting to know some of his remarkable achievements over the decades.