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Pollock (Soundtrack) by Jeff Beal

Expressions and Inner-Forces
Review by Christopher Coleman


Pollock (Soundtrack) by Jeff Beal

Pollock by Jeff Beal

Pollock (Soundtrack) by Jeff Beal




Originality 9
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 8
Track Order 8
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10



Real Audio Clips


Track 9 - Art of this Century





Jeff Beal
Jeff Beal


Quick Quotes

"Jeff Beal's pulsating score, performed by a string ensemble, emphasizes the triumph of the art of the tragedy of the life."

Jack Gardner - 
Associated Press



Composed and Produced by Jeff Beal
Music Editor - Sharon Smith
Music Supervisor - Dondi Bastone
Released by Unitone Recordings March 2001

Pollock represented a large gamble for its star and director, Ed Harris (Enemy at the Gates, The Truman Show, The Right Stuff).  For Pollock, Harris would serve as the producer, director, as well as the lead actor.  The greatest risk is that very one that every actor takes when they jump into the director's chair for the first time.  Yet another risk, of sorts, was taken when Jeff Beal  (not to be confused with composer John Beal) was chosen to provide the score for the film detailing the tumultuous life of American pop artist, Jackson Pollock.

Ed Harris passed on two composers due to missing the "creative-bullseye" Harris had set.  Harris turned to Jeff Beal after composer Mark Isham had sent the actor a demo of, his friend and fellow jazz-musician, Jeff Beal.  As Jackson Pollock was a noted jazz-enthusiast, the choice seemed picture perfect.  Yet a solely jazz-score would not be sufficient.  The complexity of the artist as well as his art demanded a creative musical mix all its own.  Jeff Beal fit the bill, having not only jazz performances and compositions under his belt, but has composed music for the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon, the feature film, Cheap Shots, and is currently composing classical pieces for the Prism Brass Quintet and Ying string Quintet. 

From the very onset of the disc, it is easy to hear why Ed Harris chose Jeff Beal for this project.  Drawing on the complexities of jazz and infusing it with folk and classical music, Beal churns out a beautiful musical representation of the the art of Jackson Pollock. He creates a positive energy representing the creative process of Jackson Pollock. Later, Beal contrasts this positive, rhythmic music, in a mannger that keenly represents the  dark, inner-forces that plagued the artist.  At the risk of over-simplying this unique effort, this duality in the score makes it a highly enjoyable experience.  

The title theme is one that is full of complex energy and is creatively inspiring.  It is the sort that financial institutions will want to hire to accompany their latest television ad campaign.  Beal handles the musical canvass nearly as skillfully as Pollock did his.  The compelling nature of the theme is constructed from quick yet delicate bursts of piano, wide strokes of banjo, subtle percussions, and splashes of jazz melodies performed by trumpet and woodwinds. This "creative theme" is first heard in track 1, Alone in a Crowd, and is carefully utilized throughout the score.  It reflects jazz progressions as well as a slice of Americana that carries the sort of drive as Copland's Rodeo classic.  In a remix, The Mural Goes On and On (16), the producers chose to add sampled dialogue.  Functioning more as an instrument than as dialogue for dialogue's sake, the short samples only add to the arsenal of ideas, thoughts, and words, that motivated the composer.  Through this theme and this track, in particular, Beal opens a window for us to see just that.

Not only has Jeff Beal conveyed the expressions of the infamous American artist, but also the very complex inner-forces at work within him.  While the "painting" scenes are rich in their expression of joy and creativity loosed upon an empty canvas, several other cues suggest quiet desperation.  Beal's string work is reminiscent of his close friend, Mark Isham, as heard in scores such as October Sky or A River Runs Through It.  Exhibiting a strong folk influence, tracks such as Stroke by Stroke (7) or Empty (12) are in stark contrast to Beal's creative themes.  Jeff Beal's own specialty of jazz trumpet makes several appearances throughout the score.  With his simple trumpet accents, Beal adds even more layers of complexity and duality namely:  heroism vs. tragedy. 

Unitone Cinema Series provides a stellar bit of packaging for the CD.   Much along the lines of  Teldec's superior packaging of  Electric Shadows:  The Film Music of Zhao Jiping, Unitone serves up an artistic, tri-fold,  hard-paper casing.  While they aren't as durable as good ol' plastic, they are certainly more appealing and somewhat justifies the shelling out of $15.00 plus for a soundtrack.  

The risks Ed Harris took appear to have paid off.  With an Oscar-nomination for his performance and critical acclaim coming from all directions, Pollock, has turned out to be a successful "first-time" for the veteran actor.  As most scores rarely do, Jeff Beal's contribution has gone somewhat unnoticed, but its seamless meshing into the film's tapestry is undeniable.  Harris' composer-gamble has also paid off!  Through Jeff Beal's own creativity, the audience is given a window to experience the inner workings of the creative soul.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time


1 Alone in A Crowd 2:14  *****
2 Beauty form Pain 1:54  ****
3 One Man Show 2:02  ****
4 The Window 1:36  ****
5 Stroke of Genius 3:57  *****
6 Plant Your Garden 2:11  ****
7 Stroke by Stroke 2:45  ****
8 Breaking the Rules 2:27  *****
9 Art of This Century 1:03  ****
10 The Look 2:45  ****
11 A Life's Work 1:26  *****
12 Empty 2:42  ****
13 A Letter From Lee 1:51  ****
14 The World Keeps Turning *
 (Tom Waits)
4:14  ***
15 Unfinished 4:07  ****
16 The Mural Goes On & On (The Mural Remix) 2:41  ****
17 She Played the Banjo (Main Title Mix) 4:30  *****

Total Running Time



Pollock (Soundtrack) by Jeff Beal

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.


Referenced Reviews
October Sky 



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