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Nightfall

Nightfall
Artist: James Spencer
Genre: Solo Instrumental
Purchase link(s): http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesspencer12

J. R. is an internationally acclaimed pianist, arranger and composer performing both classical and jazz repertoire. The founder of Spencer Music and Artist Development, J. R. has taught students of all ages and levels privately for over 25 years in the following: piano, harpsichord, digital piano, voice, acting, strings, music composition/songwriting, music therapy and music industry. Currently residing in Belmont Shore, California, J. R. is a sought after coach and agent. He has also served on faculty of universities and community colleges in Southern California. 

J. R. received international success with his 2013 jazz piano release: "BLUE GARDENIA" which received 5 star reviews and air play on radios shows such as "The Cocktail Nation" (Sydney, Australia), "Martini Madness" (Los Angeles, California), and "Cocktail Piano Hour" (Miami, Florida). "BLUE GARDENIA" was inspired by the femme fatales of film noir classics and contains jazz standards including: "Misty", "Tenderly", "Laura", "As Time Goes By", "Angel Eyes", "Easy Living," and "It's A Blue World." 

While "BLUE GARDENIA" represents the feminine inspiration from film noir, "NIGHTFALL" is the follow up release inspired by the leading men of film noir: the dangerous killer, the sexual prowler, the down and out hero, and the detective protector. "NIGHTFALL" is a departure for J. R., as it is his first international release containing original jazz compositions. The album is a varied collection of all genres from film noir including: cool jazz, bop, swing, stride, cocktail piano, rhapsodic romantic ballad, and classical impressionistic music selections.

J. R. is a noted film noir historian, scholar and lecturer. His home film noir archive is well over 20,000 dvds and he currently teaches a class in film noir on Saturdays at Leisure World Retirement Center in Seal Beach, CA. 

While attending "Noir City" an annual film noir festival J. R. met the artist for his album cover, the so perfectly captured the sexually charged prowler with a gun; the film noir male lead, lurking in the shadows. "NIGHTFALL" developed out of the idea to explore the the dark and seedy world of the noir hero. 

Track Notes:

1. The title track "NIGHTFALL" is a rhapsodic intermezzo composed by J. R. Spencer on Peter de Rose's "Nightfall" theme from the 1957 Columbia Pictures film noir of the same name which starred Aldo Ray, as as the innocent hero. 

Commercial artist James Vanning (Aldo Ray) and his friend, Dr. Edward Gurston (Frank Albertson), are on a hunting trip in Wyoming. They stop to help two men whose car has crashed. John (Brian Keith) and Red (Rudy Bond) are bank robbers, fleeing with $350,000 in loot, who don't plan on leaving any witnesses.

They murder Gurston using Vanning's hunting rifle, but through luck Vanning survives. He's knocked out cold but is still alive. He awakens to discover the stolen money, left behind by mistake, and runs with it from the returning hoods. He gets away but loses the bag in the blizzard.

Much later, at a cocktail bar in Los Angeles, Vanning makes the acquaintance of Marie Gardner (Anne Bancroft), a model. He is ambushed by John and Red, but once again gets away. Marie falls for Vanning and travels by bus with him to Wyoming, tailed by an insurance investigator named Fraser (James Gregory) who has been following the case all along.

John and Red have found the money and get the drop on the other three. The crooks double-cross one another, however, and one is shot dead. Vanning fights with the other, who is killed by a snow plow. The insurance man will clear Vanning, who is now free to marry Marie.

2. "PIERROT TRISTE" is a classical impressionist masterpiece by English composer Cyril Scott. It beautifully captures the feeling of the Post War veteran, home from Europe, lonely, abandoned and longing for love. The awkward misfit who falls for the wrong gal. This reminded J. R. of Edward G. Robinson, the older retiree falling for Ann Sheridan in "Scarlet Street" doomed to commit murder and destroy his life.

3. One of the the least played but haunting Irving Berlin songs is "LADY OF THE EVENING" which was originally featured in "The Music Box Revue of 1920." The song fit the mood of the lonely hero who falls for the wrong girl. One can see visions of hunky Burt Lancaster falling for the cold and calculating Yvonne de Carlo in "Criss Cross". 

4. "SHADOWED ILLUSIONS" is based on a jazz piano sketch by Ahmad Jamal. Mirian McPartland created a piano arrangement on the theme called "Without You." I felt the the theme had great promise for the hero who is wrongly accused of a crime, or forced to go on the run by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Movies this sketch invokes included: "Woman on the Run", "Saboteur" and "Sudden Fear."

5. "IT'S SO GOOD TO WANT YOU BAD." is a personal original arrangement by J. R. The hero falls hard for the wrong person yet again, and his obsessive longing, makes his heart grow cold for ever. An endless menu of midnight rendezvous, one nighters, and abandoned betrayals. The hero is obsessed with his sexual ideal: "Bad Blonde" or "Blonde Ice". 

6. "PIERRETTE" is another little jazzy impressionistic gem by Cyril Scott. A touch of lonely Paris by night. One can see the shadows under the street lamps as invoked in photography by Brassai. 

7. "THE START OF OUR AFFAIR." humorously used the theme to Hitchcock's "Vertigo" woven into a steamy lush exotica bossa nova setting. What dangerous affair has our hero gotten himself into this time? Finding himself with a hangover after one too many caprinhas.

8. "NIGHT TIDE" inspired by the cult goth noir classic "Night Tide' that starred the handsome navy boy Dennis Hopper as a a sailor exploring Santa Monica, California and falling for a dark and dangerous Greek Goddess who is convinced she is a Siren and a Mermaid who must kill each man she falls in love with. This original composition has a California smooth jazz coastal feel: the type of selection you might hear in your car at 2 am while driving Pacific Coast Highway, oblivious to the drug deals, sexual liasons, and murders happening close by.

9. "BITTERSWEET" is a cool jazz composition inspired by a rare tune by Johnny Mercer and Mike Corda of the same name. Our hero returning as a veteran from WWII finds his fiance has moved on. Our hero feels abandoned, and drowns himself in whiskey at the local bar, in a city of strangers.

10. "SHOOTIN" THE MOON" is a quirky and cocky original stride piano selection by J. R. inspired by some of his favorite "weasils" of Film noir namely Dan Duryea. It has the feel of the pretentious gigolo. The title is a pun on the character's sexual potency, as well as the misleading illusions the moon provides. J. R. pulled from some of the hilariously campy stride piano compositions of one of his favorite composers, Thomas "Fats" Waller.

11. "POCKET ROCKET" is a humorous bebop improv inspired by motives from West Side Story as well as the sexually charged "antsiness" of our film noir villain. The frenzied genre be-bop is often used as a backdrop to film noir. One of J. R.'s favorite be-bop scores is Henry Mancini's score for "Touch of Evil." Pocket Rocket has that over-testeroned mood of raw sexuality mixed with danger. 

12. J. R. is a classical piano specialist in the music of Les Six composers including Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc. In research for the album J. R. found this frightening, melancholy and hypnotic little gem by Francis Poulenc "PASTORALE" which was written in 1918. Poulenc's music has actually been featured in several film noirs, most notably his "Moments Perpetuals" is the central theme to Alfred Hitchcock "Rope" which has a homosexual subtext of two gay college students who strangle their fellow classmate and hide the body in a trunk under the buffet at a party they host in their swanky apartment in upper Manhattan. Later a professor, played by Jimmy Stewart figures out the scheme. "Pastorale" is an ode to the often gay subtext that lies beneath the surface in many film noirs. Be it Clifton Webb in "Laura", Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca", the boys of "Rope" or Lauren Bacall's dangerous female liason with an art student in "Young Man With A Horn." a touch of Lavender in the film noir landscape.

13. Billy Strayhorn's last words were actually a small musical sketch. Mirian McParland created "Blood Count" off this little haunting gem. As the dark 13th hour approaches. J. R. creates "MIDNIGHT MELANCHOLY".. the continual nocturnal restlessness of our film noir hero: Be it the villain lurking in the shadows for his next kill, the lonely isolated hero sitting at the bar waiting for love that never comes, or lusty sexual romp behind closed doors.. As "NIGHTFALL", anything is possible. Let your imagination go. 

For those fans interested in private coaching/artist development management with J. R. Spencer, feel free to leave a message at: 562 394 2694.   JAMERSPENCER.COM

Also look for other albums by James Spencer on Cdbaby including his highly successful classical album: PIANO CLASSICS FOR REFLECTION and BLUE GARDENIA. Look for JIMMY PLAYS JOPLIN out August 1, 2014

J. R.'s books are available through Amazon.com.