Grab the popcorn \\ Watch these jazz-scored movies

17th November 2018

Film scores have the chance to present the most dramatic, suspenseful and attention-tugging music in our sphere. Over the last few years, ‘Whiplash’, ‘La La Land’ and Miles Davis biopic ‘Miles Ahead’ got movie-goers in the mood for something different from the usual rolling timpani and string orchestras that we so often hear in Hollywood cinema.

With some cold weekends approaching, we selected four of the best movies scored by jazz musicians and legendary composers. Grab the popcorn. 

Taxi Driver \\ 1976

A motion picture classic, Martin Scorsese directs Robert De Niro in one of the most memorable and quotable (“you talkin’ to me?”) roles of his career. The 1976 movie follows De Niro’s character Travis Bickle, an obsessive cabbie who, on returning from Vietnam, struggles to keep his sanity whilst driving through New York’s troubled neighbourhoods. The soundtrack was composed by Bernard Herrmann, who famously teamed himself for several years with the master of suspense, Director Alfred Hitchcock. In this dramatic score, rolling timpani, muted trumpets and brash harp strokes take the fore.


Birdman \\ 2014

Black comedy ‘Birdman’ won the Academy Award for Best Picture amongst several other accolades. The narrative follows Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) as he ambitiously tries to launch a new production on Broadway, aiming to prove that he’s more than a washed-up movie star. Its’ soundtrack is lead by sought-after drummer Antonio Sanchez, who created a score for the film with real-time improvisation. He recorded around seventy demos, which were then spliced and restructured to create the final soundtrack; an expressive, dynamic example of how emotive the drums can be when used as a solo instrument.

Elevator to the Gallows \\ 1958

The French crime film, directed by Louis Malle and released in 1958, was groundbreaking for the relationship it presented between music, image and emotion. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Noël Calef, the screenplay follows actors Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet who play the part of criminal lovers. The score, by Miles Davis, was enjoyed by audiences a year before the release of his own seminal success story, ‘Kind Of Blue’. Its spacious, contemplative music was seen as contributing hugely to the birth of the cool.


Les Stances a Sophie \\ 1971

There aren’t many avant-garde ‘hits’ out there, but ‘Théme de Yoyo’ is up there as one of the most recognisable and celebrated tracks of its type. It was the result of a two week scoring session; director Moshé Mizrahi commissioned AEOC to create the original music for the film when they had just half a month left on their visas. A French comedy drama, the story follows a free-spirited woman who marries a remarkably reserved man.

Tweet us your favourite Jazz film score @_SupStandards. 

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