Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Music of James Bond

Bond through the years

Conductor John Morris Russell, another of my favourites, returned to the Toronto Symphony this past week bringing with him the original scores from some of the best music in the 23 James Bond movies.  Composed by various people such as John Barry, Monty Norman, David Arnold, and even John McCartney, the person who really gave Bond his sound was someone not nearly as well known, arranger Nic Raine.  It was those arrangements the TSO brilliantly performed, and appeared to have an enjoyable time doing it.  

The night opened with the "James Bond Main Theme" before
Capathia Jenkins
moving on to some of the hits from the Sean Connery era.  Guest vocalist Ron Bohmer made his TSO debut singing "Thunderball" to great effect.  Capathia Jenkins followed with "For Your Eyes Only", also her debut performance.  She has a gorgeous sultry voice that totally suited the James Bond style.  I think that was my favourite vocal song of the evening, although Bohmer's "From Russia With Love" was a close second.  Both singers, but especially Jenkins, seemed so pleased with the audience reaction and generously indicated their thanks to the audience and orchestra.

As usual the orchestra was not left out.  They played a short suite from Dr. No, complete with a recorded voice over of the most famous line in movie history (according to Conductor Russell), "martini, shaken not stirred".  

Mrs. Peel
Opening the second half was a series of orchestral selections featuring guest saxophonist John Johnson and brassy solos by trumpeter James Gardiner.  It started with the "Soul Bossa Nova" better known as the theme from Austin Powers, then moved to the piece that started the spy-fi genre, the "Peter Gunn Theme".  Russell broke in to continue the history and stories he was providing between pieces to discuss the appeal a character named Mrs. Peel, who "wore leather and kicked butt", had for a young boy growing up in Ohio.  The orchestra followed with the theme from the TV series The Avengers.  

Ron Bohmer
Also included were Mission Impossible with it's identifying 5/4 time, the Pink Panther, and the theme from Shaft where Bohmer reappeared in his own leathers.

Moving on to more recent Bond movies, Jenkins sounded just like Adele singing "Skyfall" then switched to Gladys Knight for "Licence to Kill".  "The Look of Love" from the original Casino Royale had Russell get in on the non conducting action to join Jenkins for a classy slow dance.  Bohmer returned a final time to sing "You Know My Name" from the Daniel Craig as Bond version of Casino Royale.

Of course one couldn't leave until perhaps the most popular Bond song, made famous with the Shirley Bassey vocals but left as an orchestral encore piece, was played.  The evening was brought to a final close with "Goldfinger"!

Check out a photo of the TSO in rehearsal
TSO rehearsal with Maestro Russell (

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