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Henry Mancini: The Pink Panther Theme

The “cat” Mancini refers to in his little intro is sax player Don Menza. He played a key role in one of the most recognizable opening passages in American musical history. Life is full of ironies: Menza’s son, Nick, was the drummer in Megadeth.

From the bio of Mancini at iMDB:

Success with The Glenn Miller Story (1954) allowed him to score many other films, helping along the way to change the style of film background music by injecting jazz into the traditional orchestral arrangements of the 1950s. He was nominated for 18 Oscars and won four; in addition, he won 20 Grammys and 2 Emmys, made over 50 albums and had 500 works published. Mancini collaborated extensively with Blake Edwards — firstly on TV’s “Peter Gunn” (1958), then on Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which won him two Oscars; he won further Oscars for the titles song for Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and the score for Victor Victoria (1982); he will be best-remembered for the theme tune for The Pink Panther (1963).

Whether you are aware of it or not, you are familiar with Mancini. He was all over the place from the 1960s until the 1980s. Here are the Peter Gunn Theme, Moon River (with Andy Williams)Baby Elephant Walk, the theme from the television show Newhart and the opening scene of Orson Wells’ classic A Touch of Evil. The movie is a great example of the iMDB’s point that Mancini used jazz in film scores. In addition to being great, Mancini was almost unbelievably prolific.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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