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You know, that sax sound that they always play in the movies to suggest a "hardboiled detective" or "underworld" vibe... Nowadays it's mostly a cliche, but where did it came from? Any particular songs / players / soundtracks that defined this genre?

Harlem Nocturne may qualify, but I don't think it's hardboiled enough...

Thanks :)

Hernan
 

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They used Harlem Nocturne for the Mike Hammer TV series with Stacey Keach. That was fairly recent---'80s?
That series was pretty wimpy compared to Mickey Spillane's books.
 

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It's an interesting question. I don't know the answer, but I too have wondered. When did a certain sax voice become associated with the urban demimonde? What sax player was the first so associated? I don't know, but will watch to see if anyone else does.
 

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Yes, the saxy Harlem Nocturne used in the Mike Hammer series is the song I thought of first when I read the question. Although for some members of SOTW 1984-87 is ancient history, there is a particularly cool detective who was all the rage way back in the late 1950s and 60s. Now we're talking early. Of course his name was Peter Gunn, and his hard-driven theme is the perfect counterpoint to the dark insinuations of Harlem Nocturne. The Peter Gunn theme by Henry Mancini was a genre all its own, part movie music, part cool bluesy jazz, and it featured hot sax solos, as I remember. That's about as deep into detective/sax movie lore as I can delve.

By the way, a very good version of the Peter Gunn Theme (besides the Blues Brothers) is the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. No slouches in there, and the sax solo is spot on. The original Mancini version starts off with the basic theme, as much as we usually heard on tv, but it later gets a bit too glitzy, brash and out there for me. The Hollywood Studio Orchestra just belts the music out clear and steady, and you can play along with that familiar driven bass line and then jump off and wail away up on top. Good for the chops and funn.
 

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Yes, the sax is the perfect "noir" instrument, no question about it. Harlem Nocturne certainly qualifies. There's also a clip on Pete Thomas's website of a tune Pete wrote that sounds like classic film noir material to me. I love that sound, and I really like film noir as well.

There's a Mingus tune called "Boogie Stomp Shuffle" that for some reason makes me think of a classic gangster type film. Very cool......
 

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Have you ever seen the first movie in "Grindhouse"? There is this uber-gritty sax that starts playing whenever the stripper is doing something sexy.
 

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FighterForJC said:
Somebody mentioned Peter Gunn. What about the Pink Panther Theme?
Henry Mancini- a bit of an underappreciated genius as far as I'm concerned. Superb composer and his arrangements are beautiful. On the noir subject- Earl Bostic, in his slower moments seems to epitomize a certain private detective kind of aesthetic.
 

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Hernan123 said:
You know, that sax sound that they always play in the movies to suggest a "hardboiled detective" or "underworld" vibe...
...and every time the femme fatale appears in the doorway!
 

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man, what other instrument would fit with a line like "she had legs all the way up to her neck..." (please do your best bogey when reading that line :lol:)
 

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daigle65 said:
Speaking of Bernard Herrmann.

I'm playing a concert tonight (Halloween!) of his music.
http://antoinebustros.com/2007/10/02/musique-de-crime-psycho/
...sorry it's only in french.

We're playing arrangments of the music he wrote for "Psycho" and also of the music he wrote for a 50's radio drama series called "The Crime Classics".

"Psycho" must be tough


"wheeet wheeet wheeeet wheeet" :twisted:

good luck on the gig.

dv
 

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I have this nostalgic image of Henry Mancini walking around downtown Metropolis, USA late at night, searching for that perfect sound for his score. He happens upon a lonely alto busker in a smokey alley, back-lit in an old three piece suit, as some hot dame stalks out of the back door of a dingy jazz club that the busker was thrown out of one too many times. He looks over at her, completely unnoticed, waits for her to get just out of earshot, then keeps on playing his soul out.

I mean, absolutely no way to prove it. But I think it makes a great germination for the idea.
 

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davevillajr said:
"Psycho" must be tough


"wheeet wheeet wheeeet wheeet" :twisted:

good luck on the gig.

dv
Yeah ! That mouvement is intitiled "The Murder":twisted:
 

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Check out the Johnny Staccato theme. There's several versions in iTunes but not the original Elmer Bernstein version unfortunately which is the one to look out for. I have it on a 7' vinyl - very cool track.

BTW the tune on my site that JL refers to (Another Night in the Naked City) was written for a Tennents Pilsner TV commercial featuring a spoof Private investigator "Lou Tennent". I think the video clip is on there as well - (A Gerry Anderson directed claymation). (NB I don't mind admitting that my tune owes a fair bit to Earle Hagen.)

I wrote this after a lot of research on film noir saxophone, but I found that most of the classic noir music is orchestral - the saxophone connoting the sexy dame does feature but I believe it's more prevalent in comedy or light romance rather than Noir. What we often think of as Film Noir is later than the classic period which I think of as 40s to early 50s (e.g. Asphalt Jungle). The later stuff is probably "neo-Noir" and more likely to have jazz scores and saxophone.

It's a fascinating area of music/film, I'll do some asking around as I have a good friend does research at the local university film department, he may be able to come up with some good examples.
 
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