Cheat Sheet: Noir Romance -- Sophisticated Ladies & Doomed Men
Lovers of classic films know how snugly Bogey and Bacall fit together or how Jack Nicholson was never better than when matched with the doomed, sumptuous mysteries at the heart of Chinatown (which features one of the most haunting central themes of all time). Even those misguided souls out there who never watch TCM have probably seen modern noir films like L.A. Confidential or pretty much everything Christopher Nolan has made (including The Dark Knight). Hearing the music in detective movies and noir films actually helped get me into jazz in the first place. After all, who can resist John Barry's score to Body Heat or Bernard Herrmann's theme to Taxi Driver?
That is why I was so thrilled to get Charlie Haden's Sophisticated Ladies as a pre-release exclusive for Rhapsody. On this achingly romantic theme album, the brilliant bassist and band leader gets to act like Alfred Hitchcock and cast Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Ruth Cameron and Renee Fleming as femme fatales in a black-and-white dream world of love-struck mystery. Throughout, Haden's Quartet West go from backing these nightclub canaries to laying out bop instrumentals that advance the plot and deepen the smoky mood.
The album got me thinking about other albums that have the emotional pull of film noir, so while you're listening to the Charlie Haden Quartet West's Sophisticated Ladies, here are some other collections that match music with darkly cinematic moods. There is plenty of jazz here for you to (re)discover, but there's also rock, trip-hop and world music that dim the lights and set the stage for a twilight landscape where romance, heartbreak and short-lived rebounds collide with murder, mystery and uptown nightclubs that always feature a femme fatale as the central attraction.
You can add these albums to your Rhapsody collections, and we've also included specially made playlists and radio stations to keep you in a movie frame of mind from dawn to dusk. To start you off, here are selections from the cinema-soaked selections below.