Thursday, 22 April 2010

Warning Shot: Goldsmith meets Zentner (Jerry Goldsmith and Jazz Part 1)

I used to have a copy of this record years ago. It got lost in the shuffle of house moves, divorces and the general wear and tear of life. To tell the truth I didn't miss it that much. I always looked down my nose at it because, you see, it wasn't really a Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack. Instead it was a re-recording of a Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack by a jazzy band led by some guy called Si Zentner. I always loved Goldsmith, but I was a purist and since the music here had been filtered through someone else's sensibility, and presumably given some kind of commercial mainstream makeover, I disdained it. But recently Si Zentner cropped up again, in the context of a formidable big band leader. Thanks to the Unknown Jazz Collector (see 19 September 2009), I ended up with a copy of a sizzling album called Big Band Hits on the Sunset label, which I recommend most highly.And then there's the fact that the fragrant Claire Teale is in the habit of playing Zentner tracks on her show on Radio 2. So naturally I began to miss my long lost LP of Warning Shot, and when another copy turned up at Dusty Groove in Chicago, I jumped at the chance to replace it. I've now had time to get reacquainted with the album and I'm chagrined that I didn't appreciate its qualities before. Side one consists of themes from the film Warning Shot, a forgotten detective movie of the 1960s. It begins with the dense and complex title track, an energetic big band tear-down that reminds me of Lalo Schifrin's score for Mannix (a forgotten detective TV series of the 1960s) — which is a very good thing to be reminded of. Next up, The Gasser begins at a swiftly striding pace before changing tempo and morphing into a slow bluesy amble. It features sardonic and fatly flatulent interjections on brass and guitar throughout which might have given rise to the title. Track 3, the groovy and exciting Messed Up deploys electric guitar, brass stabs, bongos and Hammond organ in a manner which again conjures up Lalo Schifrin. Perhaps not surprisingly since both Goldsmith and Schifrin both worked on the Man From Uncle. Track 4, Back to the Seascape, concludes in a way that brings to mind Johnny Mandel's score for The Sandpiper, a movie full of seascapes. This is followed by Miss Alice, which displays a bittersweet Jazz Bach lilt before resolving in a welter of truly beautiful brass. It has tremendous melancholy beauty and once again (the brass) suggests Johnny Mandel. Wow. Side one concludes with Cornering the Suspect which takes us back into Mannix territory. Side two is an assortment of themes from other Goldsmith film scores, plus one more straggler from Warning Shot, a cover version of Nat King Cole's 'Mona Lisa' which seems to waver between Kurt Weill and the Mariachi Brass in terms of its interpretation. Von Ryan's March (from Von Ryan's Express, a war movie scored by Goldsmith in 1965) is one of the highlights here. It begins in martial fashion, then takes an unexpected turn into the territory of Benny Golson's Killer Joe. A Patch of Blue is another standout, wistful and quite lovely. Once again it's slightly reminiscent of Johnny Mandel (see The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea). But its poignant, poised precision is pure Goldsmith. Incidentally, A Patch of Blue will be the focus of a future piece by me on Jerry Goldsmith and Jazz. The theme from The Prize is a smooth and smoochy slow number which appears to have Moon River in its sights. Then, just to remind us of Goldsmith's crime jazz and spy movie credentials, side two closes with his theme from The Man from Uncle, which begins with a brass fanfare that seems to promise go-go dancers in shimmering mini skirts before developing into a stripped down skirmish between sax and bongos. Side one of Warning Shot is arranged by Bob Florence, side two by the pseudonymous sounding Donal D. Dimick about whom I have been able to learn nothing. Other Zentner arrangers over the years have included Billy May, Pete Carpenter, Bob Chase and the great Bill Holman, but I haven't found anyone who is an anagram of Donal D. Dimick or even Donald Dimick. I'd also like to credit the splendid Saul Bass style cover design of the album. The art direction on the LP is by Woody Woodward, who took over from William Claxton as designer for the Pacific Jazz label in the late 1950s. The logo with the gun and the hand emerging from the W was part of the movie campaign, but everything else here looks like its Woody's handiwork, further strengthening the album's claim as a desirable jazz item. In any case, Warning Shot, previously dismissed by me, turns out to be a crucial document in Jerry Goldsmith's early work. And it's one of the few convincing examples of jazz in the Goldsmith canon. It inspired me to take down my previous Si Zentner discovery Big Band Hits, for further listening. Which in turn inspired me to go back to Warning Shot. The two albums have been feeding off each other, so to speak. Now just one question remains, do I file this gem under Goldsmith or Zentner? Ah, the joys of a record collection...


  1. I remember a Down Beat ad of the early 1960s that featured Si Zentner's trumpet section (I think it was a Conn ad), and a Don or Dom Dimick was in that section. So the composer or arranger on Side 2 is not working under a pseudonym so far as I know.

    1. Yep. Don Dimick. Trumpeter and arranger, and my uncle.