Asynchronous Records has a new release out, and it is from American/Australian musician/composer Phillip Johnston and his musical interpretation of the 1926 silent animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which was based on One Thousand and One Nights, more commonly known as The Arabian Nights. This soundtrack was recorded live by a quartet of soprano sax, trombone, and two keyboards against a pre-recorded track of samples, loops, and live drums. Johnston, who plays sax here, is joined by James Greening on trombone, keyboard players Alister Spence & Casey Golden, and drummer Nic Cecire.
Broken down into a dozen tracks, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is pretty lively stuff, mostly bombastic jazz with a cinematic flair. "Prince Achmed" is a joy, with rousing sax & trombone melodies giving way to some sultry organ, before a lazy, hazy trombone solo takes things out to a fiery conclusion. The leaders sax kicks things off on the bubbling "Pari Banu Kidnapped" as well as a spirited "The African Magician", but tunes like "Adventures in China", "The Witch & the Wedding", and "The Magic Lamp" contain a wealth of groove and funky, futuristic samples, synths, and loops, moving parts of the album into almost full blown electronica. For jazz purists, "Alladin's Tale" is a lovely piece, smoky organ and old school sax/trombone melodies just grabbing the listener and refusing to let go, while closer "Return to the Land of the Mortals" bridges the gap between classic jazz and spacey electronica.
My only previous experience with Johnston was with The Microscopic Septet, and his excellent score for the classic 1926 F.W. Murnau silent film Faust (check it out if you haven't, the film and new score are outstanding), but I have to say he's done a fantastic job here injecting some modern & classic sounds into this vintage tale. All in all, a job well done.
The African Magician 07:42
Prince Achmed 08:48
Pari Banu Kidnapped 07:23
Adventures in China 04:58
The Witch & The Wedding 03:13
Take Me to Wak-Wak! 05:25
The Magic Lamp 05:42
Aladdin's Tale 04:23
The Witch vs The Magician 05:40
The Battle of The Spirits 05:20
Return to the Land of the Mortals 04:19