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Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion (1961)
Music by John Williams
Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion
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Price: $79.95
Limited #: N/A
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2006
Catalog #: Vol. 9, No. 8
# of Discs: 1

Film Score Monthly brings to CD more outstanding early work from the legendary John Williams: the classic "crime jazz" soundtrack to Checkmate plus the big-band showtunes collection Rhythm in Motion, both dating from 1961, when the composer was known as "Johnny" Williams.

John Williams began his career as a Hollywood pianist, performing in the Columbia Pictures orchestra and on various projects like Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn. Williams moved into composing primarily on television, before his eventual reign as the most successful feature film composer of modern times. Checkmate—a crime thriller series in the tradition of Peter Gunn—was both Williams's first series as primary theme and episode composer, and his first album as a featured artist for Columbia Records.

Checkmate starred Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot and Doug McClure as the members of "Checkmate Inc.," a private firm that specializes in preventing crime before it happens. Williams wrote a sizzling main title theme with a beguiling electric guitar ostinato and big-band brass. Like similiar albums of the time, the Checkmate LP (which was entirely re-recorded) features a studio rendition of the main title theme, adapted underscore and source cues, and original compositions in the same style. Smoky, moody, melodic and cool, the the Checkmate record is a classic from the Peter Gunn and Staccato -era of TV crime jazz.

Unlike past FSM CDs, Rhythm in Motion does not feature Williams compositions—or even film music at all. Rather, it is comprised of 12 popular showtunes arranged by Williams into upbeat instrumentals for enhanced big band. Even at this early point of his career, Williams was a master of orchestral color—imagine Broadway's famous melodies orchestrated like the Lost in Space theme, and you have a sense of the delights of this album.

These two vintage Columbia LPs are remastered from the original stereo master tapes for sterling sound quality. (The LPs at the time were meant to show off first-rate stereo imaging.) The booklet features a lengthy essay by Williams expert Jeff Eldridge, including new insight from original LP producer Jim Harbert.

John Williams Scores on FSM
About the Composer

John Williams (b. 1932) is not only the composer of most of the biggest blockbusters of all time—including Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and many more, many of them directed by Steven Spielberg—but he has transcended film music to become the world's most famous living composer, and an American institution. His popular symphonic scores are so iconic that they often overshadow the fact that he has been equally proficient at sophisticated, adult fare (Schindler's List, Images) and had a successful career in composing (for television and often comedy features), arranging and performing well before he even met Steven Spielberg. FSM, like most labels, will release everything it can of Williams's music, and has concentrated (for reasons of availability) on his early years as "Johnny" Williams when he was doing sterling work on relatively little-known television and films—always with an amazing attention to melody and detail. In fact, his early works are fascinating for the ways in which they foreshadow his later, world-renowned efforts. IMDB

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