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Album cover copyright (c) 2005 Image Entertainment; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Mellow, pleasant jazz score 


A 2004 movie, Unknown Soldier is a low-budget film about a New York man who is left homeless following the death of his father, and chronicles the trials he faces as a result.  It got very positive reviews, particularly for its star, Carl Louis, and first-time director Ferenc Toth.  Providing the music was composer Peter Calandra, who explored the urban jazz roots of the great city; somewhat surprisingly, given the subject-matter, this isn't very modern, mainly electronic jazz, but far more restrained and tuneful.  It's only his fourth score - and all the others have been for low-budget films as well - but suggests he is certainly a capable composer.

As I said, it's jazzy music, but generally rather laid-back, with a relatively modest ensemble of sax, trumpet, percussion and bass supported by keyboards.  It's a lovely "soundscape" which has been created, focusing mostly on very mellow sounds.  Jazzy scores like this inevitably tend to offer a distanced accompaniment to the film rather than a more traditional dramatic commentary, but the approach can work very well on the right films.  Only occasionally does the music become more urgent, most notably in "The Escape", which takes on a considerably darker hue.  This is then followed by the piano-based end title cue, which itself is very attractive and catchy.  After the somewhat brief score (about 25 minutes) come three piano solo bonus tracks, which are all just as good.

Unknown Soldier is the first release from a new label fronted by noted film music journalist Mikael Carlsson, MovieScore Media.  Intriguingly, all of the releases are to be available only as downloads from internet stores.  I have mixed feelings about this: for one thing, it instantly alienates those who don't have broadband or similar internet access; for another, it does of course mean that sound quality is less-than-CD quality.  And finally, perhaps most importantly, it removes the (perhaps irrational) pleasure that comes from having a physical CD in your hand, with a case and a booklet, which can be played anywhere.  I'm not sure enough people can really be bothered to go to the hassle of transferring things in whatever way they need to in order to listen to the music on the stereo in their dining room when they're having dinner, or in the car.  The overriding argument the other way, of course, is that it enables things to be released which wouldn't have been otherwise.  (Unknown Soldier is an extremely obscure film, and Peter Calandra is an extremely obscure composer, so it's virtually inconceivable that this fine music would have been released in any other way.)  It's when more high-profile projects begin being released exclusively online (as, I guess, they already have) that I will really be disappointed.

But never mind, the music's the thing, and in the case of Unknown Soldier it's impressive, and certainly worth checking out if you're a fan of easy-going jazz, or perhaps the jazzier efforts of a film composer like Christopher Young.


  1. Opening Party (2:36)
  2. City Biking (1:21)
  3. Teen Hijinks (3:00)
  4. Fire Escape Meeting (:54)
  5. Ellison's Pain (3:07)
  6. Searching (2:10)
  7. Can't Sleep Here (1:10)
  8. Ellison's Choice (2:26)
  9. The Escape (5:11)
  10. End Credits (3:21)
  11. Solemates (1:53)
  12. Time Returns Once (2:42)
  13. In the End (3:07)