|The Grammy Award winning composer, arranger, saxophonist Bob Belden – whose critically-acclaimed debut CD Treasure Island, was released on Sunnyside in 1989 -- marks his return to the label with his truly superb soundtrack, Three Days of Rain, a 2003 film directed by Michael Meredith, starring Peter Falk and Blythe Danner.
The movie transplants the psychologically gripping stories of the immortal Russian writer Anton Chekhov to modern-day Cleveland. The amazing, Cleveland-born tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is the featured soloist. Trumpeter/flugelhornist Scott Wendholt completes the frontline, with two rhythm sections consisting of pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Dwayne Burno, the ageless Blue Note drum legend Joe Chambers – the threesome worked with Belden on his first soundtrack, The Riff in 2000 -- guitarists Ronnie Jordan and Al Street, and the Marc Copland Trio, with bassist Mark McGuirk, and drummer Jochen Rueckert. Houston’s keyboard whiz Jason Moran is featured on one track.
The pairing of Belden with the filmmaker Michael Meredith, the son of ex-football player/broadcaster Don Meredith, was a perfect match. Michael wanted that approach, to have the music become alive as a single entity, not bound by the film, but part of it.”
With the added attraction of pop superstar Lyle Lovett spinning the music as a radio DJ, the Belden-composed and arranged selections move with the modern, urbane swing of Duke Ellington’s Anatomy of a Murder, groove like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and soothe with the same noir nuances of Miles Davis’s atmospheric Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud. Lovano’s warm-blooded, full-bodied tenor tones illuminates the dark emotional landscape in quartet and quintet configurations. The title track has a mournful Round Midnight, quality, while the midtempo “Blues For Dennis,” swings in a Grant Green mood. On “Homeless (Quartet)” and the Latin-tinged “Falling Down” Wendholt takes the spotlight, with his economical, buttery lines. “Panic,” showcases Lovano in a rare alto clarinet solo. The eloquent Copland/Rueckert/McGuirk triad provides the seductive syncopations on “Conscience” and “Tess Montage,” counterpointed by “Tess,” with the Hays/Burno/Chamber trio. The CD concludes with “End Title (Master),” soulfully serenaded by Jason Moran’s southern sonorities. “…[I] had to create motifs for each personality,” Belden wrote, “The Drunk, The Old Woman, The Paranoid Woman, The Slow Man-Child, The Guilty Couple, The Child Killer, The Remorseful … all standard psychological elements of Chekhov’s plays.”
Bob Belden's jazz soundtrack for Three Days of Rain must now be added to the list [of greatest examples of jazz film scores].
Thomas Conrad,Jazz Times