Carla Marciano Quartet

Psychosis – Homage to Bernard Herrmann
Challenge Records CR 73486

Taking a detour from Jazz originals Italian saxophonist Carla Marciano and quartet interpret the film music of American Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975), best known for his evocative scores for Alfred Hitchcock. No straightforward reproduction, the sopranino/alto saxophonist plus pianist/keyboardist Alessandro La Corte, bassist Aldo Vigorito and drummer Gaetano Fasano provide variations and recreations of material from Vertigo, Psycho, Marnie, the Boulting Brothers’ Twisted Nerve and one concluding outlier, a John Williams’ composed Harry Potter theme.

That last gives Marciano an outlet for her high-pitched flutter tonguing, but it’s the Hermann material that is outstanding. Someone who created radio drama music plus scores for film classics like Cape Fear and Citizen Kane, Herrmann’s carefully timed but sometimes overwrought romanticism is perfectly matched by Marciano’s internalized Mediterranean passion. Reminiscent of Gato Barbieri’s playing during Last Tango in Paris, her extended glissandi and sweeping treble tones lacerated with a tranche of shrill split tones, confirm the scope, surprise and sometime scariness of the root material.

Crucial to this concept is the mini-suite that stretches through four tracks from “Theme from ‘Marnie” (Prelude)” to “Theme from ‘Psycho’ (Prelude)”. In particular it isn’t the famous eerie motif that’s emphasized in the last but Marciano vibration variations which quote “Miles Ahead” and “Tico Tico”. The transition from “Marnie” to “Twisted Nerve” takes the material outside, with hard irregular sax honks and La Corte bearing down and producing flying saucer-like whooshes from the keyboards. The preceding track “From ‘Marnie’ (Prelude)” balances piano fluidity, drum rumbles and staccato reed bites in the narrative. As many agitated reed smears and flourishes as Marciano exhibits, she continually refers to and recaps the surging near-rococo theme. While there are some sections during which histrionic sameness creeps into the interpretations with an overload of wide reed inundations, overall these fitting improvisations stay true to the root material’s intentions.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1, Theme from “Taxi Driver” (Betsy's Theme) 2. Theme from “Marnie” (Prelude) 3. From “Marnie” to “Twisted Nerve” 4. Theme from “Twisted Nerve” (Theme and Variations 5. Theme from “Psycho" (Prelude) 6. Theme from “Vertigo” (Prelude) 7.Theme from “Vertigo” (Scene D'Amour) 8. Homage to John Williams - Theme from “Harry Potter” (Hedwig's Theme).

Personnel: Carla Marciano (sopranino and alto saxophone); Alessandro La Corte (piano and keyboards); Aldo Vigorito (bass) and Gaetano Fasano (drums)