I am curious to know more about British composer John Dankworth who used to score the early "Avengers" series (with Honor Blackman) by giving it a jazz leaning. He works with director Joseph Losey: "The Servant", "Modestie Blaise". Any comments are needed...
John Dankworth recorded a version of that first Avengers theme - which is really good - on a Roulette LP in the early 60s. This was reissued as part of a 70s two-fer in Roulette's "Echoes of an Era" series (coupled with a Billy Strayhorn album).
He also scored the films "Fathom" and "Modesty Blaise."
He did a great album on Fontana called "The Zodiac Variations" in 1964. Each track on this LP portrays a different astrological sign, all twelve keys are represented (to correspond with the signs), and - get this - the soloist on each number was born under the respective sign portrayed! A real gem.
Dankworth also arranged albums for vocalist Cleo Laine, his wife.
A really gifted and overlooked composer/arranger...
Dankworth recently provided the arrangement of the Modesty Blaise theme for Silva's splendid "Jazz in Film" album performed by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. The CD also contains a magnificent recording of Schifrin's Dirty Harry. I never believed someone could rerecord this music so good.
He also scored Salt & Pepper, a 60' spy spoof with Rat Packer's Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. Was it Jack Davis who did the cover art? Did he start out working for Mad magazine? I know he worked alot in the 60's.
Haven't seen them in years but Dankworth did turn out a couple of nice main titles for both THE LAST SAFARI (actually available on a 45 at the time of the films release) and, even better, THE SANDS OF THE KALAHARI.
Both are kind of semi-jazzy themes that don't truly speak to the thrust of either film but are, nonetheless, pleasant listening all the same.
Do any of our U.K. posters know if the KALAHARI theme made it out on vinyl over there?
My fave Dankworth theme was for BBC's TOMORROW'S WORLD which I'm sure many U.K. posters here will remember.
I believe he also scored Joseph Losey's "BOOM!", the score was replaced by John Barry (and what a great 'dark' score it is), only a Dankworth/Don Black composed song 'Hideaway' sung by Georgie Fame remains on the album.
Oh yes, very famous more as a jazz icon than a film composer though. Quite similar sounding to Laurie Johnson in a way (bright, almost... gay-sounding). I recall his score for THE MAGUS. Great manic waltz on violin for the climax (are they watching some movie on a screen or something, and someone comes and rips the screen apart?). Good End Titles too, with sax to the fore, maybe a bit "light" for the material, though, which was always my bugbear with the composer.
Here's one for Timmer. A few years ago I caught the titles for MODESTY BLAISE on TV, and I thought - "Crikey, is that or is it not the CATWEAZEL theme?" (or however you spell that Geoffrey Bayldon character from my childhood).
No Melchior, Les is right. It was Dankworth. Probably about two minutes of music in that great movie. It didn't need any more. A superb movie, really chilling, and Attenborough is simply amazing as the killer. Pity about the bald cap though. Dankworth scores the Main Titles in a suitably low-key seedy style. I think only one scene apart from that has music, and it's barely audible.
I don't remember the titles to MODESTY BLAISE Graham, though it is a daft and strangely watchable film.
10 RILLINGTON PLACE is a truly disturbing film, and made all the more so by the fact it's a true story. Richard Attenborough is indeed brilliant in this film and lets not forget a sublime performance from John Hurt as the tragic Timothy Evans, an innocent simple man sent to the Gallows for murder after Christie's botched abortion on his young wife, one of the reasons why Britain abolished the death penalty.
Many scenes in the film were actually filmed at Rillington Place not long before the entire street was demolished.
A very stark film. hey Thor, why not watch this one as part of your 'Cinema Club' thang!?
And he still continues to score for movies. In recent years he wrote music for a gangster movie starring Malcolm McDowell.
Mr. Dankworth passed a few years ago bringing on Ms. Laine's retirememt. He re-recorded some of his themes for the album "Movies and Me" for RCA. Each summer Mr. Dankworth and Ms. Laine would perform in concert at a park in Marina del Rey, CA. My wife and I would see them each time. After the show they would sit at a table, greet fans and sign autographs. Very nice people.
Really sad that so little of John Dankworth's film scores made it to album. No real surprise though as several of them are for quite obscure films. Clearly, little love for Sir John among the specialist soundtrack labels.
Roy - I'm sure you realise, but you quoted an 8 year-old post from when he was still very active
Glad Johnny gets some love here....fantastic arranger, excellent composer, sleak Sax player, and a lovely man - was a pleasure to know him. Much missed.
Yes, I second this about his arranging abilities. His arrangement of the children's song "Oranges and Lemons" is one of my all-time favorite light classical settings of any tune (and that's saying something when one considers all the great stuff produced by Percy Grainger, Eric Coates, Leroy Anderson and Robert Farnon). I was fortunate enough to meet both he and his wife Cleo Laine twenty or so years ago after their appearance with our local symphony (very nice, down-to-earth folks). On that concert, and in addition to conducting his arrangements, John played sax, flute and piano and sounded like he was born to play all three (and Cleo was in top form, as always).
Not often in life does one have the opportunity to meet his/her musical heroes (especially those from another country) which is what made the occasion especially memorable.
It would be wonderful to have releases of complete scores, both the lp versions along with the film track versions of "The Idol", "Fathom","Modesty Blaise", and "Salt and Pepper". Hopefully, these are on somebody's radar.