Music By: Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by: Aleph Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 1968, a dramatic thriller hit the screens based on a novel by Robert L Fish and starring Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Vaughn. Steve McQueen plays San Francisco Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt who finds himself in hot water after a witness under his protection is murdered by an underworld kingpin. The movie received a number of awards and award nominations and has received great accolades for its musical score. In April 2014, Aleph Records announced it was releasing the Bullitt Soundtrack on vinyl.
The musical score of Bullitt was created by Argentine pianist, composer, arranger and conductor Lalo Schifrin. Born to a musical family, Schifrin began taking piano lessons at the age of six. By sixteen, he discovered jazz. Within a few years, Lalo Schifrin was ensconced in the jazz scene, performing in local clubs in Paris and, upon returning to Buenos Aires from his education at the Paris Conservatoire, formed a jazz orchestra which performed weekly on a television variety show. By the 1960s, he was composing music for television and film, using his love for jazz to create recognizable scores. Some of his compositions include the musical scores of Mission: Impossible, Cool Hand Luke, Amityville Horror, Enter the Dragon, the Dirty Harry series and more.
This new release of the Bullitt Soundtrack features fourteen tracks complete with both the movie version of the score and the originally released record version. Jazz has always been featured prominently in Lalo Schifrin's scores and Bullitt is no exception, though in the movie version of the score, listeners will note special flourishes added in here and there to accentuate the thriller nature of the film. Ice Pick Mike stands out as an example, featuring that spine-tingling window chime sound that gives you the impression something really bad is about to happen...perhaps a person is about to be murdered or a main character is about to be ambushed. Nestled in the quiet moments between the jazz horns, bass guitar, percussion and cymbal rolls, the hairs on your neck are like to stand up straight at the sound.
Being a fan of jazz music made this soundtrack an easy listen for me. Sure, it features music from an older era, but the message of the musical score is the same: Lt. Frank Bullitt is one cool cucumber under fire and he will nab his man, no matter what it takes. The sound is classic jazz and well worth the listen for jazz fans. There's a reason why Soundtrack Magazine named it "...arguably the best jazz-based film score of the '60s." Fans of Lalo Schifrin's music will want to get their hands on this new release, even if they have never seen, nor have any intention of seeing, the movie it was created for. The Bullitt Soundtrack is just a perfect example of what a composer can do with jazz to help tell a story without the aide of any visuals. This is a great stand alone album and I have no doubt it made for a great accompaniment to the film.