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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

News from Costa Communications and notes on Andrew Gross' score for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

From Costa Communications

FILM COMPOSER MYCHAEL DANNA SCORES "THE NATIVITY STORY" Film Opens Dec. 1 Score release from New Line Records Dec. 6

(Los Angeles, CA) Well known for his expertise of combining non-Western sound sources with orchestral and electronic minimalism in film music, award-winning composer Mychael Danna scores "The Nativity Story" for New Line Cinema and director Catherine Hardwicke. Danna's score sets the tone for the drama that focuses on Mary and Joseph's life as they travel to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, one couple's journey that forever changed the world. Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac, the film will be released this holiday season. New Line Cinema releases "The Nativity Story" December 1. New Line Records releases the score CD December 6.

Being recorded in Los Angeles, the score breaks recent tradition by employing European instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. "My approach is not about a story set in the Middle East," says Danna. "It's about how The Nativity changed history when Europe really flowered under Christianity." To reach his timeless objective, Danna references ancient Christmas melodies written hundreds and thousands of years ago. Gregorian chants, recorders and viols give voice to carols such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," originally written in Latin during the 12th century.

Danna began his film music career with the score for Atom Egoyan's "Family Viewing" in 1987, for which he Danna won a Canadian film award, an award for which he has now been nominated eleven times. He has earned a reputation for skillfully blending ethnic influences into the body of contemporary film scoring aesthetics, which led him to work with acclaimed directors such as Atom Egoyan, Ang Lee, Scott Hicks, Gilles MacKinnon, Mira Nair, James Mangold and Joel Schumacher.

Danna studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985. He also served for five years as composer-in-residence at the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto from 1987 to 1992.

Danna has proven his versatility from scoring Moroccan music in "8MM" to American Civil War-era sounds in "Ride With the Devil," and he infused medieval European and Persian music into the score for "The Sweet Hereafter." He has scored each of the eight movies by director Atom Egoyan, including "Where The Truth Lies", "Arafat", "Felicia's Journey", "Exotica", "The Adjuster", and "Speaking Parts."

Most recently, Danna scored the Oscar-winning "Capote," "Black" for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and "Tideland" for director Terry Gilliam. With Danna's score, "Little Miss Sunshine," starring Toni Colette, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell, is in theaters.

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

Much hype has appeared in the press and on TV for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, which I believe may actually have had its world premiere here in the U.K. Of course, Jack Black is best known as the popular American comic actor of such fare as School of Rock. But, on the side, he also makes up half, with Kyle Gass, of rockers Tenacious D. Now, I haven't heard any of their stuff, but from clips of the film, it seems pretty wild and crazy, rather like the guys themselves. There is a soundtrack album on Epic in the States but, from the track listing, it would seem to lack any score tracks, written by composer Andrew Gross, who has had a long assocation with Black, having been schoolmates at the Crossroads High School in Los Angeles. Gross in fact had done strings for several songs on the duo's platinum selling debut album.
Originally Gross and collaborator John King of the Dust Brothers were brought on to the movie to provide orchestral and choral arrangements for the songs used in the film, but it soon became clear that some dramatic orchestral scoring was also required, of the kind the late, great Elmer Bernstein, among others, have in modern times supplied for broad comedies. Their sometimes over-the-top, serious sounding music enhancing the comedy antics on screen.
From the nine-minute sampler Costa Communications have kindly provided, this is just the kind of scoring Gross supplied, with "Jack Attacked" filled with bombastic villainy; "History of KG" a mix of fairtytale wonder and menace;" the awe-filled choir of "Birth of the D;" the religious choral "Ignem Fervorum;" "Guitarway to Heaven," with its awe-filled choral giving way to a determined march; the mysterious "The Stranger Suite;" "Capturing the Pick," which commences with exciting action, before rocking out; and the triumphant and heroic "Compared to the Greats." It's all good stuff, just a little too brief to really latch on to away from the film, which is why it is unlikely to make it on to a score album. Of course, without hearing the soundtrack album, I can't be sure some of this music didn't make it on to there. If it did, I'm pleased, but if not, surely some room could have been found for something of a suite collecting all these moments together.
Whatever, go see the movie, as it looks like a fun ride.


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