In an industry often referred to as "cannibalistic," swept as it is by constant change
and unpredictable developments, we at Spartan Productions were faced with the
compelling need for something genuinely new in dramatic television. When the idea
for PETER GUNN was still incubating, the vital question was: How do we set the
PETER GUNN show apart from other mystery-adventure series?
We already had many exciting components, but what was missing was some
distinctive element to invest this series with something extra, something superlative.
It hit me then - JAZZ. If we could use the music as an integral part of the dramatic
action, fusing story-line and score, we should have something very worthwhile.
By sustaining the jazz background and source music throughout the show's
39-week run, I strongly feel we have given the program a positive identification, not
to speak of attracting the viewers into an awareness of this vital musical form.
As creator of the show, I naturally insisted on using live music throughout. In this
case esthetic necessity was implemented by the fact that many of the nation's
greatest jazz musicians are in the Hollywood areaan ideal opportunity to handpick
the most creative jazzmen. To give us the musical background required, we also
needed a composer with roots in the jazz idiom, one who could interpret dramatic
action in the language of modern jazz. Henry Mancini is that composer.
"Hank" Mancini, only thirty-four, had already written for such films as "The Benny
Goodman Story," Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and 'The Glenn Miller Story." For his
contribution to the latter he was nominated, at twenty-eight, for an Academy
Currently the music director of Spartan Productions, Mancini can now claim the
distinction of being the first musican to compose modern jazz for the sound track
of a filmed television series.
The music in this album offers an excellent sampling of the sounds you're likely to
hear any Monday eve when Peter Gunn swings into action on NBC-TV. The
musicians are the same jazzmen who are heard to outstanding advantage in all
the programs. Here are some of them:
Drummer Jack Sperling and bassist Rolly Bundock state the show's forceful
opening motif, Fallout! The raw-sounding trumpet belongs to Pete Candoli, a
veteran of the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton bands. Dreamsville, which might
be subtitled "a love refrain for hipsters," features a moving alto sax solo by Ted
Nash; his brother Dick can be heard dueling with fellow trombonist Milt Bernhart
on Session at Pete's Pad. Saxist Ronnie Lang, who, in common with most of the
musicians here, is a graduate of the Les Brown band, wields a bulging baritone
on Sorta Blue. Other soloists at Mother's, the nitery where Peter Gunn hangs his
Brooks Brothers jacket, are vibist Larry Bunker and pianist Johnny T. Williams.
This music is Peter Gunn's kind of jazz. I think you'll find that it's your kind, too.
© by Radio Corporation of America, 1959