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Old 04-02-2008, 04:25 AM
DLuxN8R-13 DLuxN8R-13 is offline
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What do you call that frenetic screechy jazz on the soundtrack of old crime dramas?

There's a particular genre or style of jazz which, at least judging from the snatches of it I've listened to, I could probably take a liking to real fast. I don't know anything about the music, though, so I've got no idear what sort of jazz it is, much less which artists played it, maybe some of you old school hipsters could enlighten me?

It's prominent in the soundtrack of many noir or noiresque crime drama flix, starting in or around the mid-1950s and continuing on into the early-to-middle 1960s; usually there seems to be a sort of rubbery, loping bass at the center of it, and maybe a little percussion, stripped down so spare it's nearly skeletal, but hard-driving. And there are always scratchy, almost screamy horn parts played over the rhythm, jagged little bursts of it, staccato scribbles like neon lightning that sometimes slide over into long, crazy wails like Siamese cats in heat in Hell. The combined effect is jittery and driven, electric and somewhat hysterical; the very sound of menace in the urban underbelly. Most of the grim'n'gritty big city crime thrillers of the late B&W era had this species of music on the soundtrack, especially during chase scenes or montages; and if a movie dealt with drug trafficking or dope addicts it was, of course, ubiquitous.

So, then, my question. Much as the topic puts it: is there a name for the subset of jazz that fits the description I gave? It may be just on account of how beautifully it meshes with the down-and-dirty hard-edged ambience of the movies, but I sort of like the cold, feverish, hyperdramatic screeech of it, and would be interested to check out longer passages, even whole songs, maybe, if I had some leads into who played it.

Last edited by DLuxN8R-13; 04-02-2008 at 04:27 AM..
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