Duke Ellington, Anatomy of a Murder

Seth Colter Walls

By Seth Colter Walls

on 02.15.12 in Reviews

Anatomy Of A Murder

Duke Ellington

This soundtrack for Otto Preminger’s classic legal thriller isn’t often placed in the front-rank of the Duke’s output, which is natural for an album that features some cues meant to serve purely as background. But as moody, noir-ish accompaniment goes, this is hardly anonymous work: The band’s swagger in “Flirtbird” and “Grace Valse” is unmistakable. The main title theme snarls with intrigue; when it swings into action, you’ll perk your head up (just like those who were in the film’s first audiences probably did). Look for Ellington’s cameo in the film, too, in the role of Pie-Eye: a character that inspired the pianist’s catchy-as-hell “Pie-Eye’s Blues.” An early run-through (titled “More Blues”) is now included in Columbia’s remastered edition of the album.