Chet Baker And Bud Shank Theme Music From The James Dean Story on 180g Import LP
The story of this recording begins with James Dean, the first - and arguably still the most iconic - screen actor of the postwar period. His reputation was made in the course of three films in which he starred before dying in an auto accident in 1955, age 24, and has since been burnished by innumerable tributes, both cinematic and musical. Dean, like Buddy Holly, would retain his mystique and allure through having died at the height of his fame and he remains a legend today.
Robert Altman, a young director who would eventually make his name with films like MASH, Nashville, The Player and Gosford Park, was quick on the draw and put together a documentary telling of Dean's rapid rise and sudden demise. This, Altman's second ever film, combined existing material from Dean's East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause and Giant with pre-fame and interviews with those who knew him.
An eponymous album containing the film's soundtrack was released by Capital Records in 1957. But what we have here is an interpretation of that music by jazz greats Chet Baker and Bud Shank, recorded in late-1956 and released in September by the World Pacific label. The list of top-class musicians alongside Shank and Baker here is absolutely stunning and includes Don Fagerquist, Charlie Mariano, Pepper Adams, Claude Williamson and Monte Budwig. With charts from two of the greatest arrangers of the era, Johnny Mandel and Bill Holman, little wonder this recording has taken on a life of its own and is universally considered more memorable than the original soundtrack.