Duke Ellington - Recording "Anatomy of a Murder" Score - Los Angeles, 1959
Credits: Photo by Don Hunstein ęSony Collectibles. All rights reserved.
Otto Preminger's 1959 courtroom drama, "Anatomy of a Murder," was the first major Hollywood production to deploy an extensive jazz score. Duke Ellington's groundbreaking compositions for the film, an elegant and fluid combination of complex moods and rhythm, broke with programmatic musical tradition. The non-literal direction of Ellington's score evoked emotional and psychological nuance eons beyond mere plot diagrams, creating a dynamic new musical language for cinema in the process. Ellington himself had a cameo role in the film, appearing as "Pie-Eye," the proprietor of a roadhouse. Photographer John Hamilton snapped the Duke in an LA recording studio working on the "Anatomy of a Murder" score in 1959.