The Second Disc

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My Huckleberry Friend: El Records Offers Variations on Mancini’s “Moon River and Me”

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Quick – think of your favorite Blake Edwards movie.  Okay, now be honest: when conjuring up an image of one of Edwards’ signature comic set pieces, didn’t you automatically start hearing a famous theme?  If you did, chances are it was composed by Henry Mancini.  Edwards and Mancini worked hand in hand for some 30 projects over a 35-year period, from 1958’s groundbreaking television series Peter Gunn through 1993’s Son of the Pink Panther, Edwards’ final motion picture.  One of the most cherished of the Mancini/Edwards pairings came on 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  With the Academy Award-winning ballad “Moon River” as its immortal centerpiece, Tiffany’s offered Mancini in his most tuneful mode, embracing dramatic cues, swinging cocktail music, brash big band jazz and even a cha-cha-cha.  The varied compositions perfectly captured the spirit of the romantic comedy based on Truman Capote’s novella and starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.  As with most of Mancini’s film work, his score to Breakfast at Tiffany’s was re-recorded for a home listening experience for RCA Victor’s original soundtrack album.  Now, a bit more of Mancini’s original score is available thanks to the U.K.’s Cherry Red-affiliated El Records label and its release today of Moon River and Me (coincidentally also the title of Andy Williams’ autobiography, Williams being the American singer most associated with the Academy Award-winning song penned by Mancini and Johnny Mercer for the film).

Moon River and Me features seventeen recordings from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Though this doesn’t represent the entirety of the original score, it offers music not present on the 12-track RCA Victor re-recording.  These tracks include the original main title, Audrey Hepburn’s vocal rendition of “Moon River” and other previously-unavailable cues like the moody “Paul the Spy,” wistful “Running Home” and alternately slinky and animated “Next Morning.”  All of these are presented in generally good sound and make a welcome companion to the RCA Victor soundtrack album.  (Presentations such as this are possible due to current United Kingdom copyright law which finds music more than 50 years old to be in the public domain.)

There’s more on Moon River and Me, too, including variations on that famed song.  Hit the jump to read on!

The selections from the Tiffany’s soundtrack are augmented by four versions of “Moon River.”  Jerry Butler’s R&B-inflected Vee-Jay single hit No. 11 in the U.S., and is heard here alongside Danny Williams’ U.K. chart-topping rendition on the HMV label.  (No relation to Andy!)  Covers by drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (including tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard!) and guitarist Al Caiola round out the set.  Five tracks are excerpted from guitarist Barney Kessel’s album of the Mancini score, and another three from tenor sax man Eddie Harris’ similar LP.  Clearly, Mancini’s Academy Award-winning score proved itself adaptable to many musical genres, both vocal and instrumental.

The black-and-white booklet includes a 6-page essay with notes derived from Henry Mancini’s autobiography Did They Mention the Music? plus images of the composer and stills from the film.  Moon River and Me is available now from El Records, and follows the label’s releases of Mancini’s soundtrack to Touch of Evil and his 1957 solo recording debut Driftwood and Dreams, retitled The Versatile Henry Mancini.  You can order this latest title at the link below!

Henry Mancini, Moon River and Me (Including More Music from Breakfast at Tiffany’s) (El Records ACMEM227CD, 2012)

  1. Moon River (Original Main Title)
  2. Sally’s Tomato
  3. Holly’s Phonograph
  4. Paul’s Apartment/Holly’s Dream
  5. Party One
  6. Party Two
  7. Party Three
  8. Party Four
  9. Party Five
  10. Moon River – Audrey Hepburn
  11. Paul, The Spy
  12. Tiffany’s
  13. Shoplifting
  14. Running Home
  15. Next Morning
  16. Fifty Dollars From Paul
  17. Search For Cat/Finale
  18. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Barney Kessel
  19. Latin Golightly – Barney Kessel
  20. Sally’s Tomato – Barney Kessel
  21. Holly – Barney Kessel
  22. The Big Blow Out – Barney Kessel
  23. Something for Cat – Eddie Harris
  24. Mr. Yunioshi – Eddie Harris
  25. Loose Caboose – Eddie Harris
  26. Moon River – Danny Williams
  27. Moon River – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
  28. Moon River – Jerry Butler
  29. Moon River – Al Caiola

Tracks 1-17 previously unreleased
Tracks 18-22 from Barney Kessel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Reprise LP R-6019, 1962
Tracks 23-25 from Eddie Harris, Jazz for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Vee-Jay LP 3027, 1961
Track 26 from HMV single POP932, 1961
Track 27 from Buhaina’s Delight, Blue Note LP 4104, 1962
Track 28 from Vee-Jay single 405, 1961
Track 29 from Al Caiola, Solid Gold Guitar, United Artists LP UAL-3180, 1962

Written by Joe Marchese

March 29, 2012 at 13:54

One Response

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  1. As far as I know, this may be the first issue of one of the most famous song performances in film history, Audrey singing herself


    April 2, 2012 at 15:11

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