THE YOUNG SAVAGES (1961)
LE TEMPS DU CHÂTIMENT
Real. John Frankenheimer
Mus. David Amram
LP CBS LAALP 1011 - Stereo (US)
1. Harold’s Way (1:50)
2. Las Muchachas Delicadas (5:32)
3. True Blue (5:30)
4. Harold’s Way Out (6:50)
1. Theme from “The Young Savages” (2:21)
2. Switchblades On Parade (1:39)
3. The Last Taco (1:27)
4. Theme from “The Young Savages” (3:06)
5. Funeral March and Requiem (2:38)
6. Help ! (1:43)
7. Subway Sounds (2:00)
8. Later with The Elevator (1:58)
9. Rooftops (4:19)
Notes Back Cover
"The Young Savages", David Amram's first score fo a full length motion picture, has offered him an opportunity to use fully his varied talents. He is a gifted classical composer, also a talented jazz musician, and the score reflects his outstanding ability in both areas.
Thus, Side One contains the film's jazz compositions, and Side Two contains the sensitive Theme and compositions for full orchestra.
The film depicts in realistic, n-holds-barred terms the juvenile gang violence of New York City. Amram says of his score that it "makes a statement about the film itself, but it also represents my personal feelings about New York, where I've lived and worked in some of the neighborhoods portrayed in the film".
Director John Frankenheimer and producer Harold Hecht gave Amram free rein. "They let me use jazz as an integral part of the picture, rather than employing it to underscore violence, sadism or narcotics - which is usually the case in pictures. Jazz is heard not in the fight scenes but during sequences that showed the neighborhoods where the boys lived".
In the film, three boys murder a blind Puerto Rican boy and Assistant District Attorney Hank Bell (Burt Lancaster) prepares to prosecute. His wife (Dina Merrill) does not approve of the death penalty for the youths. Bell sees Mary Di Pace (Shelley Winters), his former sweetheart and mother of one of the accused boys. Determined to be impartial, he also talks to the leaders of the Puerto Rican and Italian gangs. Both sides distruct him and one night he is brutally beaten. In the climactic trail scene, Bell does not press for a first degree murder conviction. Mary's son is found not guilty of murder and sentenced to a year in a reformatory for his participation in the crime. One boy is remanded to a state mental hospital and the sadistic, pathological instigator of the crime is sent to jail for not less than 20 years.
The picture opens with Theme from "The Young Savages", a duet between harmonica and guitar with a subtle Latin flavor. As the three young delinquents stride through the streets of Spanish Harlem, the Theme gives way to the violence and force of Switchblades on Parade, a march written on a base of five notes played by five tuned tympani and developped by the full orchestra; on the screen the senseless murder is committed.
The Last Taco is the killing and the chase, as the boys are pursued by patrol cars. There are suggestions of electronic music as the strings simulate the sound of police sirens. Following a re-statement of the Theme is the Funeral March in which plaintive trumpet sounds admirably capture the poignancy and simplicity of the Puerto Rican funeral procession. As the mourners reach the church, the march dies down and is replaced with the organ Requiem.
In Help!, snare drum and tympani introduce the desperate urgency felt by a young Puerto Rican lad who is being "teased" and threatened with drowning in a public swimming pool. The child's fear and the fury of his rescuers are conveyed in the brass and strings. In Subways Sounds, the theme is stated by a single trumpet. As a group of vengeful youths rush down the subway stairs after Hank Bell, the theme becomes distorted; bongos, crashing cymbals and frantic brass statements punctuate the blows the young hoods inflict on Bell with chains and heavy boots. Later with the Elevator effectively conveys the tension of the scene in which three boys threaten Bell's wife in an elevator. Rooftops is a somnolent, almost romantic piece which serves as a musical backdrop for a quiet scene played by Lancaster and Dina Merrill.
Amram, also an accomplished French hornist, is heard in the jazz compositions as a pianist. He freely admits that he is influenced by Thelonious Monk, but the inventiveness and originality of his own work is unmistakable. The personnel on Las Muchachas Delicadas, True Blue and Harold's Way Out include Amram, piano; Harold Land, tenor sax; George Morrow, bass, and Leon Petties, drums. On Harold's Way George Barrow replaces Land, altoist Teo Macero joins in. "Toots" Thielmans is heard on harmonica.
David Amram is one of the New York theater's most active and highly regarded composers. He has written music for over 32 dramatic plays since 1957, including the Pulitzer prize-winning "J.B.", "Caligula", and eight Shakespeare productions at the famed Phoenix Theatre. He has composed scores for all of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare productions, and has been asked to compose the scores for "As You Like It" and "Macbeth" at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stradford, Connecticut.
He has composed the scores for two short films, "Echo of an Era" and Jack Kerouac's "Pull My Daisy", and written the music for the prize-winning television production, "Turn of the Screw", which starred Ingrid Bergman.
Amram is thoroughly familiar with the jazz idiom; when he was nine he learned to play the trumpet and three years later he was playing with jazz groups in Washington, D.C. In high school, he took up the French horn. He wrote his first choral work when he was fourteen and at seventeen entered the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. From 1949 to 1952, he continued his studies at George Washington University, taking his degree in European history.
In 1952 he was drafted and the following year joined the Seventh Army Symphony in Stuttgart, Germany. "It was a great experience", he said. "Classical and jazz musicians lived together, played together and learned from each other. While I was there I did some four-part jazz things-tuba, bassoon, French horn and trumpet".
Discharged in Europe, he played a concert tour under State Department auspices, performing the Brahms Horn Trio and a Mozart Horn Concerto. During 1954 he played in Paris with a modern jazz group, then led his own quartet in various jazz clubs, and made several recordings, including one with Lionel Hampton. In 1955 he returned to America to devote himself to playing and composing. He studied music at the Manhattan School of Music, worked with the Charles Mingus Quintet at the Cafe Bohemia, played with Oscar Pettiford's orchestra at Birdland and Town Hall, and also led his own group at the Five Spot for 11 weeks.
But he has always set aside time for symphonic and chamber music. A concert devoted to his compositions was presented at Town Hall on May 8, 1960. A violin sonata, a sonata for 26 strings, a trio for tenor saxophone, French horn and bassoon, and a 17-minute concerto for small orchestra were performed, and the New York Herald Tribune described his work as "everywhere musical, dedicated and passionately honest". This summer, he has been invited to attend the Marlboro Music Festival by Rudolf Serkin. He is currently working on a string quartet and on a brass quintet which will be performed at his next concert, to be held at Town Hall in February, 1962.
- Billy James