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There is little subtlety in the film and TV music that scores the world of private dicks, black-widow chicks, and the click, click, click of a bad man’s gun. In “crime jazz,” the horns blaze like bullets, the drums thump like fists, and the sound effects squeal like a frightened dame—or Richard Widmark. Despite being culled from a variety of movies and television shows between 1950 and 1965 and featuring a wide array of bands, composers, and arrangers (including Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Stan Getz, and Elmer Bernstein), Crime Jazz’s 36 tunes play as one big suite. Most of the tunes, taken from classics both popular (The Wild One, 77 Sunset Strip) and forgotten (Private Hell 36, Echo-Four Two), share pulsating Latin rhythms, exotica-style flourishes, controlled dissonance, and fierce dynamics reminiscent of the Stan Kenton orchestra. In Vol. 1, Jimmy Botticelli writes in his tiresomely sycophantic liner notes that “the closest jazz has come to reaching the culture at large is through TV and film crime dramas.” I guess Jimmy considers the big bands of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie neither jazz nor popular, but it is true that by the time most of Crime Jazz was originally released, many teens were switching allegiances from swingin’ combos to rock ‘n’ rollers. (Skip Heller’s annotation in Vol. 2 is much better, balancing his love of the genre with historical insights, though he does miss pointing out that Lalo Schifrin’s “Danube Incident” from Mission: Impossible provides the main sample for Portishead’s “Sour Times.”) The producers of Crime Jazz’s recent cousin compilation, Murder Is My Beat: Classic Film Noir Themes and Scenes, messed up by including both musical soundtracks and their accompanying dialogue, which made for a jagged listening experience. But both volumes of Crime Jazz simply let the music speak for itself.—Christopher Porter