Marvin Hamlisch's first feature film score – written while he was still a college student – remains one of the great debuts in soundtrack history: a work of remarkable maturity, 1968's The Swimmer is rich in contrast and scope, communicating the film's uncommon emotional complexity in stunningly clear detail. Hamlisch proves a master of both style and mood, shifting effortlessly from the poignant simplicity of the main theme to the effervescent jazz cut "Easy Four/Bubbles" to the soaring orchestral flourishes of "Hurdles." Like the new generation of filmmakers who redefined American cinema in the late '60s and early '70s, Hamlisch achieves a note-perfect balance between tradition and innovation, acknowledging the past masters of movie music even as he expands the parameters of the form. Film Score Monthly's superlative reissue includes excellent liner notes and a series of stills from the film. Highly recommended.
Recorded in 1973 as a foray away from the Modern Jazz Quartet, Milt Jackson's second entry on the CTI label is also one of its highlights. This is one of Creed Taylor's finest productions both in terms of material and sidemen. Drummer Steve Gadd, flutist Hubert Laws, bassist Ron Carter, and pianist Cedar Walton accompany Jackson on the majority of the album. Indeed, Jackson's ability to swing funky is evidenced to delightful extremes on "Old Devil Moon," with a rolling cymbal shakeout from Gadd, whose rim shots and tempo-pushing musculature are a sharp contrast to those of the MJQ's Connie Kay. Likewise, Laws, whose playing is usually over the top, stays inside melodic nuances here and provides Jackson with an essential harmonic foil. And Ron Carter is playing throughout with a popping edge he never had before or since.