As we have seen, by 1959, America and the entire world was exploding musically to the sounds of rock and roll music. Despite this emerging craze, the safer sounds of popular music prevailed at the register. The #1 selling album of 1959 is the soundtrack to the television show “Peter Gunn”, a private eye series that ran for approximately three years. The composer of this work, as well as many subsequent successes, was Henry Mancini.
I guarantee you, even if you don’t think you know the theme song to Peter Gunn, when you play it, you will. It isn’t quite as recognizable as his most famous soundtrack success The Pink Panther, or perhaps as elegant as the beautiful Moon River, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I found this entire album to be an easy and enjoyable listen. I think it would serve as an outstanding soundtrack to a late evening by the fire on a dark night, or even with less inspiration, perfect music for reading, studying or writing, when you can embrace the relaxing melodies without the distractions of lyrics and vocals.
I would classify most of this album as a blend of classical orchestration with a heavy mix of jazz, horn-based with a warm vibe and beat through all tempos of song. The song “Soft Sounds”, with its alluring xylophone and horn blend, lowers the lights and probably your pulse to just the right pace. This music feels like a perfect time-stamp of the end of the ’50s, as the world of music was ready to burst into uncharted territory, while still clinging with one hand to the big band sound that reigned supreme at the beginning of the decade.
Henry Mancini definitely understood cool comes in many shades, and you will too with this music on for your next mood-setting opportunity. Familiar or not, expected or not, this album was just the right way to put an exclamation point on my work-week and my evening. Cheers… and goodnight.