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ISE 1002

Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Intrada; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall





In what seemed to be an inspired piece of composer casting, Christopher Young was hired to score Shade, a movie about underworld gambling, territory he had previously covered in the good Rounders.  His love for and ability at writing smoky, funky jazz makes him the perfect composer for this sort of thing.  For whatever reason, though, his music doesn't seem to have ended up in the movie (not that it's even been released over here, so I've not seen it).  Sadly there are no details about this in the liner notes to this new album, though in the movie credits it does say "Music by James Johnzen".

This is the second release in Intrada's fledgling Signature Edition series (the first was another Young score, the sublime The Tower).  It was limited to 1,000 copies and sold out very quickly.  The composer might be the same as the first release, but the music couldn't be more different.  This time round, as expected, we get funky jazz, with the composer saying in the album booklet that he sequenced the album to function as a kind of 1970s-style jazz album rather than a dramatic film score, and it certainly fulfils that purpose.  

He also points out in his brief note (I may just as well have reproduced it all here - it would have saved me typing a review!) that the pieces are all self-contained vignettes with little thematic development or anything, and again I can't add much to that.  The album is a series of 16 enjoyable, entertaining pieces of jazz (performed by what sounds like a somewhat modest ensemble favouring percussion, bass, trumpet and various keyboards).  Sometimes it sounds like pure jazz and nothing like a film score (well, aside from a few of Mr Young's previous efforts!) though occasionally it does delve into the territory of "scource" music (ie half dramatic score, half source) and Young pulls these things off very well.  The darker tones of pieces like "Twin Turban Testimony" and "The Booze Buzz" would clearly function well as underscore, bringing dramatic tension at the same time as being delightfully entertaining.  Elsewhere the music has a delightfully retro feel, bringing to mind the best of Lalo Schifrin in years gone by.

This is a thoroughly entertaining album.  Whether the ebay vultures who no doubt bought the thing just to make a profit in the future will get what they desire is open to debate but for fans of Young's laid back scores for things like Rounders and The Big Kahuna there will be much to admire.  He is certainly a chameleonic composer who rarely writes anything less than impressive.  Hopefully more of his music can be rescued from obscurity by Intrada (I'm sure it will be).  Shade makes for a lovely album and I'm sure that Young's closing remark "hope you get pleasantly funkafied" will be fulfilled by the vast majority of listeners.  I can't help but end with a comment about his wonderful track titles, which are even more elaborate than usual; my personal favourite is "Dancing with a Wet Handkerchief on your Mother's Grave", though "Sniffing Playdough" runs it close.


  1. Shade (3:27)
  2. Wisdom in Pain (3:42)
  3. Twin Turban Testimony (2:58)
  4. I Could Have Jumped (2:48)
  5. The Booze Buzz (5:43)
  6. Incapable of Choosing (2:24)
  7. Slippery Soul (2:27)
  8. Dancing with a Wet Handkerchief on your Mother's Grave (4:02)
  9. Dizzy Miss Mizzy (2:09)
  10. I Regret (2:21)
  11. Salamander Schmorgesborg (3:14)
  12. The Parlor of Prestidigitation (2:29)
  13. The Dean's with the Professor (2:36)
  14. Sniffing Playdough (2:15)
  15. Yachumflatz (2:49)
  16. Shades of Grey (3:33)