Martinis with Mancini

by: Henry Mancini

This is a compilation of obscure compositions from Henry Mancini's albums and soundtracks, recorded 1958-1967, assembled to take advantage of the fashion for "lounge" music. The emphasis is on the exotic and campy aspects of Mancini's work, typified by the "Moon River Cha Cha" and Latin-style tracks like "Lightly Latin" from Mr. Lucky and "Rain Drops in Rio." The effect is to make Mancini's music sound sillier than much of it was, but this material does display the composer's major tendencies -- his affection for odd instrumentation, such as the harpsichord in "Playboy's Theme," his use of small groups, and his short, unusual melody lines. Mancini was a minimalist and a fast worker who got by on cleverness (note the striking juxtapositions of single instruments) and quick tempos, so that his music was always, as one title here puts it, "Brief and Breezy." It is not accurate to say, as compiler and annotator Janet Grey does, that these unknown themes are "equally worthy numbers" when they are being equated to "The Pink Panther" and "Peter Gunn." But they are of a piece with those standards, and they illuminate Mancini's overall range. ~ William Ruhlmann

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