soundtracks

Ennio Morricone is as about close as a film composer can come to being a household name — and, at age 88, he's still going strong. This year, he was signed to a new record label and has now released a new recording, Morricone 60, named for the number of years he's been in the business.

The new film Jackie, opening in theaters across the country this weekend, begins with a blank, black screen, underscored by melting strings. It's our first indication that music will play a central role here, at times even more so than the title character.

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With a whistle and a guitar, Ennio Morricone changed film and music history. Sergio Leone, a director with only one feature to his credit and a couple of gigs polishing up other pictures, called upon the composer to score his new-fangled Western, “A Fistful of Dollars,” loosely based on the Akira Kurosawa film “Yojimbo,” which itself was based on an American noir by Dashiell Hammett.

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Each weekend on Performance Saturday, I enjoy sharing new releases following the “concert” broadcast portion of the program, and this fall, I’ve been sharing excerpts from soundtracks to films clouded in mystery. None of the scores are purely orchestral, and the distorted and sometimes frightening soundscapes of these albums make for some interesting car trips! (Listening while driving is pretty much the only way I get to do any extended sampling nowadays.)

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