One Night In Miami… – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – SAR Records/ABKCO Records 180-gram stereo vinyl and CD. ****:
(Featuring original film score by Terence Blanchard; and musical performances by Leslie Odom Jr. L.C. Cooke; Billy Preston; Jeremy Pope; One Night In Miami Band)
Regina King’s directorial debut One Night In Miami… was a critical success. Adapted by Kemp Flowers from his stage play, the movie portrays a fictionalized meeting of four iconic African-American cultural icons (Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali; Malcolm X; Jim Brown and Sam Cooke) in 1964 Miami. Set against the heavyweight championship fight between young Cassius Clay and the imposing Sonny Liston, the film explores the profound and volatile dynamics that gripped the country as seen through these four charismatic leaders. The film is an impressive project for Regina King. Its four co-stars (Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. capture the charisma of the four legendary figures. ABKCO Records has released a soundtrack (vinyl and digital) which features original music by trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard and focuses on the music of Sam Cooke (as performed by Odom). The juxtaposition of Blanchard’s edgy musical score and the mainstream pop sensibilities of early 1960’s Cooke mirror the cultural inflection point of the film.
The soundtrack opens with the first Blanchard composition, a jaunty blues number, “Rumble Young Man, Rumble”. Benny Green’s fluid piano provides a soulful jazzy texture. Like the movie, the soundtrack narrative bounces back and forth. Leslie Odom Jr., who impressed Broadway audiences in Rent and flat-out electrified the world in Hamilton is the vocal centerpiece. As Sam Cooke, he is caught up in the early 60’s crossover movement at Keen Records that propelled him to pop stardom. The first song, “Tammy” showcases Odom’s keen ear and dulcet vocal style. Even Sam Cooke couldn’t elevate this one. But there is a seismic change when “Howl For Me Daddy” comes on. Tarriona “Tank” Ball injects bluesy largesse and channels Koko Taylor’s earthy grit. Keb Mo’s guitar licks are hypnotic. There are several visceral snippets of Blanchard’s score that resonate, including the quiet gospel of “Do Us All Proud” (also Benny Green), and the exotic strains of “Malcolm Looks Out The Window” that are distinctly connective to different movie scenes. Blanchard’s emotional depth can be felt on pieces like “Brother What Is Going On?”.
Vocals are an integral part of this soundtrack. Odom captures the easy-going style of Cooke on “You Send Me” and “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons”. His smooth delivery and inherent confidence is palpable on “Good Times”. One of the standout tracks is the scaled-down rhythmic cover of “Chain Gang”. Again Odom’s translation of Cooke is spot-on. There is music from other artists. The groove-funk organ song by BillyPreston (“Greazee”) is a nice change of pace. Remembering legendary performers is a part of history. Certainly the inclusion of “Lonely Teardrops” by Jackie Wilson (performed by Jeremy Pope) is a fitting homage to one of the greatest live performers ever. As the movie reaches its dramatic climax, Odom’s performance of Cooke’s transcendental “A Chase Is Gonna Come” rises to the occasion.
ABKCO/SAR Records has done an excellent job in producing the soundtrack to One Night In Miami… The vinyl will please analog fans with its balanced, warm tonality. The digital version is equally strong. The cover photo/movie poster shot of the cast will take its place in film iconography .
Side 1: Rumble Young Man, Rumble; Sam Cooke Comes To Stage/Copacabana Introduction; Tammy; Howl For Me Daddy; Do Us All Proud; I Believe To My Soul; Salah Time; I’m King Of The World; Put Me Down Easy; Greazee; Ain’t Yo Stuff Safe Here
Side 2: Malcolm Looks Out The Window; You Send Me; I Love You For Sentimental Reasons; Brother, What Is Going On?; I Wanna Damn Party; Lonely Teardrops; Chain Gang; Good Times; A Change Is Gonna Come; Speak Now
Rumble Young Man, Rumble; Sam Cooke Comes To Stage/Copacabana Introduction; Tammy; Howl For Me Daddy; Do Us All Proud; I Believe To My Soul; Salah Time; I’m King Of The World; Put Me Down Easy (1); Pit Me Down Easy (2); Greazee; Ain’t Yo Stuff Safe Here; Malcolm Looks Out The Window; You Send Me; (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons; Brother, What Is Going On?; I Wanna Damn Party; Lonely Teardrops; Chain Gang; Good Times; A Change Is Gonna Come; Speak Now