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The Black Dahlia

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Album Review

Director Brian de Palma told composer Mark Isham that what he was looking for in the background music for his neo-noir crime drama The Black Dahlia was "a mournful trumpet score," to which Isham replied, "I happen to be a mournful trumpet player." Isham brings his mournful trumpet to the soundtrack, playing it as part of lush, romantic themes that recall Gato Barbieri's flugelhorn in Last Tango in Paris and, especially, David Raksin's music for the 1944 noir classic Laura. But The Black Dahlia actually demands a lot more than that. It's a typical De Palma tale of plot twists, choreographed violence, and elaborate dramatic scenes. Isham proves up to the task of providing fairly typical music for all those aspects, writing for a 100-piece orchestra and managing to be moody and threatening as well as darkly lyrical. The score for The Black Dahlia is as referential of Hollywood past as the film for which it was written, but it also achieves some of the same kinds of variations and surprises.


Born: 07 September 1951 in New York, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Trumpeter/synth programmer Mark Isham was not only an important part of the Windham Hill stable, but also a successful and versatile composer for film and television, garnering equal acclaim for both his new age and soundtrack work. Born September 7, 1951, to a musical family in New York, Isham began studying classical music (specifically trumpet, piano, and violin) as a child. His family later moved to San Francisco, where Isham played with several local orchestras. However, he was also interested...
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