ANDERSONS PLAYS HENRY MANCINI at Symphony Space By Guest Critic Andrew Poretz
The Andersons play Henry Mancini
With Vince Giordano
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space
August 13, 2022
By Andrew Poretz
Who are the Andersons? Better known as the Anderson Twins, you may have heard these brothers perform on the HBO soundtrack Boardwalk Empire with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. Or maybe you attended one of their shows at Birdland or The Blue Note. A great place to hear them is at Symphony Space, where they have made frequent appearances with their presentation/performance combo. The great and talented Peter and Will Anderson are what could be described as the All-American version of the jazz men. It seems almost too genteel to call these healthy-looking gentlemen “cats”, with their old-fashioned black suits and ties with starched white shirts – and they also play classical music – but these guys can swing ! The Andersons are identical twins, although Will is an inch taller.
August Anderson’s presentation explored the music of Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer Henry Mancini, who wrote primarily for film and television, with a focus on Mancini’s jazz good faith. One might not think of Henry Mancini and jazz in the same breath, thanks to the “easy listening” part of his vast catalog, but, in fact, he was a jazz master. One of the hallmarks of the Andersons’ many shows at Symphony Space is a multimedia education of the musical subject in question. If you walked into Symphony Space knowing nothing of Mancini’s music other than “Moon River” or the theme to The pink Panther, which was about to change, with the help of many rare video clips of Mancini interviews, a script and presentation by Will Anderson, and a rocking band with the great Vince Giordano at aluminum bass. The brothers skillfully alternated between several instruments, including tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet and flute, which, along with the brothers’ clever and contrapuntal arrangements, tended to give the sextet the rich sound of a band. much bigger.
Each music selection was delimited by slides identifying the title, year, and movie or show it represented, as well as Will Anderson’s story about the creation of the song. Numerous Al Hirschfeld lithographs appeared in the slides – no doubt with dozens of “Ninas” hidden among them – courtesy of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. Many of these melodies have long outlived any memory of their sources. They started with “Mr. Lucky”, the theme from the 1960 show of the same name. It’s a theme I’ve heard countless times and I thought, “So that’s what it is !”
Starting with the African-sounding rhythm of Alex Radermen, the arrangement for the “1958”touch evil “The main theme” conveyed an appropriate foreboding of the “weirdest revenge ever planned”, as the film’s tagline revealed. film Hatari. The tune is essentially a jazz/rock/blues instrument, with the flute and clarinet giving it its distinctive sound. A movie clip of adorable baby elephants was shown during the song. They ended the play with the classic comic ending “Good Evening, Friends”.
When it comes to spy movie themes, Mancini practically invented the genre with his music for the hit 1959 TV show. Peter Gunn. While the theme song was a huge hit (reaching number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 12 on the R&B chart), the Andersons first played the lesser-known “Dreamsville” from the show’s soundtrack (l album ranked number 1 for ten weeks). The lush arrangement of the dreamy, black melody was intoxicating. A fascinating interview with Mancini was shown in which he discussed his working process for film scores. Although Mancini has scored for years, Peter Gunn made him a big name in the music industry.
One of Mancini’s most significant songs is “Moon River,” with lyrics by frequent collaborator Johnny Mercer of the 1961 song. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for which they shared an Academy Award for Best Song. When the film’s star Audrey Hepburn, who sang it in the film, learned it would be cut, she told producers, “Over my corpse.” He stayed. Although Hepburn’s voice was dubbed in my lovely ladyhis real voice was used in Funny head. In a clip, Mancini demonstrated how he created the melody of “Moon River” with Hepburn’s vocal range in Funny head in mind. Here he played the first three notes, then exclaimed, “It’s so obvious” how the rest of the line would go. It was pure genius at work. To somewhat reflect the film’s touch and Mancini’s intent, the lights went out and Will Anderson played the song solo on soprano sax, with just Dalton Ridenhour’s soft piano accompaniment.
The band really went wild with their rendition of the Pink Panther theme, with blazing saxophone and trumpet solos, and an energetic bass solo from Vince Giordano that made it scatter.
Mr. Ridenhour has arranged a brilliant solo piano number, a medley of Romeo and Juliet love theme (written with Nino Rota) and the theme song of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He performed in near darkness, giving the piece an ethereal quality.
The Andersons performed the finale to another Oscar-winning “Days of Wine and Roses” (from the 1963 film of the same name), across multiple musical genres, with a rousing New Orleans-style finale that got people dancing. the crowd almost full. from the theater, where Will and Peter were waiting for them to hand out their CDs, “free with a $20 autograph.” Like the old Doublemint gum jingle, you’ll absolutely “double your fun, double your fun” with the Anderson Twins.
Will Anderson: alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, flute
Peter Anderson: tenor sax, clarinet
Vince Giordano: Bass
Dalton Ridenhour: Piano:
Brandon Lee: trumpet, flugelhorn
Alex Raderman: Drums
For more information on the Andersons, visit https://www.peterandwillanderson.com. For more great shows at Symphony Space, visit http://symphonyspace.org.
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
New York, NY
Photos courtesy of Lynn Redmile, whose website can be viewed HERE.