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The Caveman's Valentine (Soundtrack) by Terence Blanchard

Piano in the Dark
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

The Caveman's Valentine (Soundtrack) by Terence Blanchard

The Caveman's Valentine
6/10


Buy Caveman Valentine by Terence Blanchard  from Amazon.com

 

Category

Score

Originality 7
Music Selection 6
Composition 6
CD Length 7
Track Order 6
Performance 6
Final Score 6/10

 

Terence Blanchard
Composer 
Terence Blanchard

 

Quick Quotes

"From start to end, the listening experience on album is unsettling. Critics of the film have stated that it fails because of its lacks of focus and tendency to wander off into bizarre visions of madness. To his credit, Blanchard scores the film with equal ferocity, and this close mirroring of the film is what makes the The Caveman's Valentine album a very difficult listening experience." ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks Reviews The Caveman's Valentine

 

 

Composed, Conducted and Produced by Terence Blanchard
Orchestrations by Terence Blanchard, Jay Weigel
Performed by Terence Blanchard, Awadagin Pratt (Piano); The Northwest Sinfonia; 
Joan Sutherland
Released by Decca Records March 2001

First came Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and then David Helfgott.  Now, welcome to the big screen, the next genius-musician gone just a smidge batty, Romulus Ledbetter.

The film, The Caveman's Valentine is based on George Dawes Green's award winning 1994 novel of the same title. The story centers around a classically trained pianist, Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson), who suffers from extreme paranoia and removes himself from society to a cave-like home on the outskirts of Manhattan. Romulus is forced out of his seclusion and world of paranoia as he attempts to solve a murder whose victim turns up in Ledbetter's proximity.

Most recognized within the circles of jazz, trumpeter Terence Blanchard delves into the realm of film music again with his dark and complex work for The Caveman's Valentine. For the film, Blanchard teams up with director Kasi Lemmons and actor Samuel L. Jackson, which marks their first reunion since their successful, 1997 venture,  Eve's Bayou.

The soundtrack, as released by Decca keenly reflects the major factors of both the story and composer alike. Most prevalently communicated throughout score is the state of mind, as well as talents, of the story's central figure, Romulus. Blanchard's score is as dark and unpredictable as Ledbetter's mind. Despite a plot that doesn't generally evoke the moods of jazz, occasionally Blanchard's jazz-background finds a way to shine through.

The soundtrack begins with a few moments of the familiar sounds of an orchestra tuning before it descends into the madness of Romulus Ledbetter (1). As the soundtrack makes its way down the brilliant, yet chaotic mind of Ledbetter, the score twists and turns from and with piano crashes, sharp piano runs, and dissonant strings and orchestral accents - Moth Ballet (2). Woven into the gloomy fabric is a thread of musical beauty that later finds a fuller expression in Musical Rampage (16). The overall effect is still one most unsettling. This eerie musical atmosphere is found throughout the majority of tracks  here. Filtered in are disturbing percussions and deep, dark synthesizers which become additional layers to this anxious music. On a few occasions, Blanchard breaks the dark tirade with a lead piano sometimes accompanied by simple strings, woodwinds or airy synths - He Was Beautiful to Me (6), Bob and Betty (9), or Rom and Lu Lu Drive (20). 

Only a few common threads in this score are short motifs and riffs. One that makes one of the most frequent appearances is four-note riff primarily played by either guitar or piano. In such elements does Terence Blanchard's jazz-background assert itself. While "consistency" or even "coherency" might not be the first words to come to mind when listening to this score, with successive listens, these small threads help to subtly add those two very ingredients into the mix.

Terence Blanchard won't be accused of copying anyone else with this effort.  While it is uniquely evocative at times, the overall feeling of the score, as the film dictates, is foreboding - a feeling most aren't looking to conjure up through their musical experience.  Those who happened to be thrilled by music of a darker nature may find this a worthwhile soundtrack to invest in.   

From the Liner Notes:

"Working with Kasi has once again forced me to push the envelope beyond its limits.  Kasi's confidence and ability to put together such a powerful film, gave me the freedom to reach out into new areas of musical expression.  The performance's, editing and direction were strong enough to leave no doubt as to what the film needed musically.  It is always a joy to work with her."  Terence Blanchard


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

1 Tuning - The Main Title 1:07  ***
2 Moth Ballet 4:47  ***
3 Clink, Clink, Stuyvesant's Tower 2:37  ***
4 Valentine in The Tree 1:49  **
5 Caveman in the Trash 0:56  **
6 He Was Beautiful to Me* 1:37  ***
7 Help Me * 2:00  ***
8 The Bus * 1:23  **
9 Bob and Betty 0:59  ****
10 Room on the Street 0:35  ***
11 Rom and Arnold Ride 1:47  ***
12 Sheila at the Farm * 1:02  ***
13 Regnava Nel Silenzo ** 4:10  ***
14 Does it Hurt 2:43  **
15 That's Where You Made It * 1:00  **
16 Musical Rampage 3:31  ***
17 Caveman Gets Off Track * 1:39  ***
18 Lovemaking 1:22  **
19 Into the Freezer 1:27  ***
20 Rom and Lulu Drive 2:54  ***
21 Caveman Outside the Cave 1:38  ***
22 Another Life 1:15  ****
23 Except Once 0:16  **
24 Rom on Balcony 1:21  ***
25 The Letter 2:39  ***
26 Now 2:31  ****
27 Subway 4:41  ***
28 Finale 7:35  ***
 

Total Running Time

61:10  


 All tracks are "Romulus" piano compositions except for *

From Lucia di Lammermoor" by Gaetano Donizetti ** 



The Caveman's Valentine (Soundtrack) by Terence Blanchard

 

 

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