Music By Justin Hurwitz & Tim Simonec
Soundtrack Album Review
Also Featuring the Music of Stan Getz and Duke Ellington
Varese Sarabande/24 Tracks/Disc Time: 54:50
The film “Whiplash” is one of the more absorbing and intelligent films about jazz in quite a while following in the footsteps of films such as “Round Midnight”, “Paris Blues”, “Lush Life” (a true personal favorite of mine”, “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Bird” which was directed by jazz lover and Oscar Winner Clint Eastwood. The film revolves around an aspiring drummer named Andrew (Miles Teller, “Spectacular Now”, “Divergent”) enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an a merciless instructor Fletcher (the great J.K. Simmons, “OZ.”, “Law & Order”) who will stop at nothing to realize his student’s potential. Through his tyrannical teachings, Andrew’s life at striving to become the best starts to affect him along with those he loves including his caring father (Paul Reiser, “Mad About You”), his family and his girlfriend. The film is an exceptional one that should garner alot of attention at Oscar time hopefully.
Music is the driving force of the film and the brunt of the work in providing both the wonderful big band jazz aspects and dramatic aspects of the film are the work of newcomer Justin Hurwitz and veteran conductor/orchestrator Tim Simonec, who has worked for Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino in recent years and also known for his great work with the forgotten Graeme Revell. Hurwitz and Simonec pretty much split the duties in handling their separate assignments with Hurwitz providing the films’ score and Simonec arrainging the big band jazz material along with the great works of Duke Ellington. The music is also pure orchestrially and filled with nice dramatic elements, that at times drum dominated.
Hurwritz’s score of course features the drums as the principal instrument since the film’s protagonist plays the instrument to heck highlighted in the tracks “Drum & Drone”, “Drum Battle”, “Practicing” and “Invited” which features a nice touch of dialog from Simmons which adds to the uniqueness of the track. The rest of the score features some deft dramatic moments such as “Hug From Dad”, “Good Job”, “Dismissed”, “Whiplash” and “Accident”, that add to the drama of the film with nice instrumentation. The highlights of Hurwitz score is definitely “Overture’, and “Fletcher’s Song In Club” which are really brilliant in their great jazz idioms and are fun and electric tracks. Simonec’s contributions to the film alongside Hurwitz’s music is the wonderful “Too Hip To Retire”, “Upswingin’”, and “First Nassau Band Rehearsal / Second Nassau Band Rehearsal /
Studio Band Eavesdrop / Studio Band Rehearsal After Breakup” which are terrific really full energy much like Hurwitz’s great highlights as well his fabulous arrangements of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” which is another great reason to hear this score as well as the late great saxophonist Stan Getz’s “Intoit” which another classic piece from the wonderful musician.
Varese Sarabande’s release is nicely put together album that features a good mix of Hurwitz and Simonec’s material along with the work of Stan Getz which is in keeping with both the traditional and big band jazz which is the driving force of the film along with their arraingements which are really good. The album really sounds good from a engineering standpoint which is sharp and crisp all the way around. “Whiplash” isn’t a score that is going to blow anyone’s skirt off but for what it is, it’s some really solid old fashioned jazz. Thumbs up!