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Original TV Soundtrack-War: A Ken Burns Film: The Soundtrack

Original TV Soundtrack

War: A Ken Burns Film: The Soundtrack

Format: CD   Release Date: 09/11/2007
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The War, directed by Ken Burns, was a seven-part documentary series broadcast on PBS television in 2007, focusing on the experiences of American soldiers in World War II. Much popular music of the period was heard on the soundtrack, as was some music specifically composed and recorded for use in the film. This four-CD set, with the full title The War: A Ken Burns Film: Deluxe Edition: Soundtrack and Music from the Second World War, devotes one disc each to a certain thematic strain. Disc one -- the only one in this package that is also available separately, as a stand-alone release -- focuses on music actually heard on the soundtrack, mixing compositions/performances by Wynton Marsalis; vintage recordings from the time by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Kay Starr; and some other material, including one track, "American Anthem," recorded by Norah Jones on piano and vocal specifically for the series (and previously unreleased prior to its appearance here). Disc two, "Sentimental Journey: Hits from the Second World War," has some of the smoother and more romantic jazz-pop hits of the era by the likes of Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, the Mills Brothers, Cab Calloway, Harry James, and Tommy Dorsey. Disc three, "I'm Beginning to See the Light: Dance Hits from the Second World War," has swing jazz that repeats some names from earlier in the box (Goodman, Basie, Miller, Artie Shaw) and adds selections from some others like Gene Krupa and Jimmie Lunceford, and is the CD most likely to be enjoyed by general music fans. The fourth and final disc, "Songs Without Words: Classical Music from The War," has ten classical pieces recorded between 1963 and 2006 of a subdued and mournful nature, two of which noted cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays on, and one (Aaron Copland's "Concerto for Clarinet, Strings, Harp and Piano") on which Benny Goodman plays clarinet. This is primarily recommended to those viewers deeply impressed by the series, rather than the general music listener, who might find the range of styles -- primarily mixing jazz and classical sides, but also with some non-jazz songs from then and now -- too wide to sustain interest. An illustrated booklet from Ken Burns explains the conception and intention of the documentary series, with a smaller one explaining the reasoning behind the music selected for the soundtrack. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi

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