up with the film music of Lalo Schifrin in the 1970s made these two albums somewhat
compulsory listening. Black Widow (1976) marked Schifrin’s debut album for the
legendary CTI (Creed Taylor Incorporated) label with Towering Toccata (1977) proving
to be a perfect follow up. Both of these albums (recorded in 1976) feature some
of the greatest Jazz musicians of the period including Eric Gale, Steve Gadd,
Hubert Laws, Jon Faddis, Anthony Jackson and Joe Farrell, to name just a few.
provides a Jazz funk vibe to some classic movie themes including Steven
Spielberg’s monster smash Jaws. The track (which still sounds incredible) was
released from Black Widow as a single and charted at number 14 in the UK
singles chart, becoming something of an established disco anthem. The Black
Widow album also did well, reaching number 22 in the US list of jazz
bestsellers and appeared in the R&B chart. Encouraged by good sales and positive
public reaction, Schifrin returned to CTI for Towering Toccata, another great
blend of smooth, disco funk grooves and a good selection of themes that had
been reworked in order to fit in with the overall album concept. The disco-laced
version of John Barry's theme from King Kong is fondly remembered and arguably
one of the album’s most enduring tracks.
of these albums are today rightly considered as classics. Yes, of course they
are dated; they’re a product of their time and of a certain generation. If you
can’t kick back and embrace the period sound without feeling a sense of
embarrassment, then these albums are not for you. If, however, you can look
back with great fondness and soak up the enormous sense of nostalgia that these
two wonderful albums can offer, don’t hesitate for a minute. Like me, you’ll probably find yourself hitting
the repeat button on a regular basis. Both Black Widow and Towering Toccata
complement each other seamlessly. For the virgin ear, there is no distinct
separation point from one album to the next; it flows sweetly and with a lush
sense of historic sophistication.
audio quality on this Robinsongs / Cherry Red Records release is remarkably
clean and clear with no evidence of distortion. Brass sections are sharp,
basses are deep and the overall dynamics are nicely balanced and sounding
perfectly natural, given their 40 year history. It is also worth pointing out
that both albums are presented here in their original release format with each
album containing its original eight tracks. Black Widow is not the extended
version which contained four bonus tracks. It’s a perfectly practical measure
of course, which enables the two full albums (at 39.24 and 35.34 respectively)
to be contained on just the single CD (thus keeping production costs down). The
packaging consists of a very nicely produced full colour 12 page booklet with
liner notes provided by Charles Waring of MOJO and Record Collector magazine. My
only criticism: smartening up the choice of font for the cover would only
enhance this release and be more reflective of the quality contained on the CD.
The current choice of font does appear to ‘cheapen’ its look, and Schifrin’s
music is much more worthy of something a little classier.
For Schifrin collectors and
fans alike, this excellent twofer release is very nice indeed and offers an
extremely inexpensive way of adding two of his classic 70s albums to your
collection. At £9.95 it’s really quite hard to go wrong.