Score and Big Band Songs Composed By: Justin Hurwitz

Big Band Competition Pieces By: Tim Simonec

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In the dramatic film, Whiplash, Miles Teller is Andrew Neiman, a first year jazz student at Shaffer Conservatory in New York.  Neiman has been playing the drums since he was very young and aspires to be one of the greats like Buddy Rich.  When famed conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) comes across Neiman practicing late at night in the music room, he invites Neiman to join his studio band.  What should be an honor and a great learning experience for the young drummer turns into a nightmare that threatens to ruin his life.

            The Whiplash Soundtrack features big band songs and score by Justin Hurwitz, big band competition pieces by Tim Simonec and classic jazz tracks interspersed with dialogue from the film by J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller.  Justin Hurwitz met Whiplash director Damien Chazelle in Harvard playing in the same band.  They soon became roommates and eventually began collaborating, the award-winning Whiplash only their second feature film together.  Tim Simonec began his foray into music, learning to play the organ and piano at the age of eight.  Though his original intended career was as a minister, music remained a huge part of Simonec's life.  When he was hired just out of college to create a theme for a local television program, he was hooked.  Since then, he has orchestrated/conducted music for over 80 films and 25 television series.  As a composer, Simonec is best known for his score for the mini-series Dune.

            Now, if you have been following my writing here at, you will know that I enjoy jazz.  What you may not know was that I used to play the drums.  I was never really great at the drums, but I have always admired great percussionists at work and there are no greater percussionists in my mind than those who know how to play jazz.  The solos created by jazz and big band drummers are often long and genuinely amazing.  Thus, it seemed I would be predestined to love this soundtrack. 

            And love it I did!  The jazz pieces created by Justin Hurwitz and Tim Simonec were terrific.  Of course, there is nothing like the jazz/big band music of old found on this album, like Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol's Caravan and Hank Levy's Whiplash.  That being said, Hurwitz and Simonec have created some amazing pieces that would make any jazz fan proud to own this album.  And for percussion fans like myself, there is no better showcase for a drummer than the Whiplash Soundtrack.  I had a great time listening to this album and recommend it to all fellow jazz and percussion fans.


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