Henry Mancini | Hatari!


The greatness of Henry Mancini in composing musical scores is an all-round acknowledgement. Tracks like the famous Moon River or the Pink Panther theme have indissolubly united cinema and music. In this boundary, Hatari! needs some cross considerations: this soundtrack has been thought and realized for an "easy" comedy, a comedy not very known, at least in Italy. The related cinephile consideration has always been debatable - for the critics the judgment goes from mediocre to excellent - and this record continues to stand out more for audiophile than for musicological merits.


Record and film are issued in 1962: for Mancini this is the period that follows the blockbuster Breakfast at Tiffany's. Hatari! belongs to a different category and, more than Breakfast at Tiffany's, it aims for the musical accompaniment and for a better musical understanding through images. Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, this film is funny, adventurous and romantic. In Tanganyika, now Tanzania, some Western animal catchers have to provide zoos with elephants, giraffes and rhinoceros. The equilibrium of this group is broken by the arrival of an Italian wildlife photographer who develops a crush on the rough leader (Wayne). The film is very dynamic and the backdrop scenery of Africa, although wild, has a certain westernized something. The Hollywood production shows a "like a postcard" landscape, a non-emancipated black population and always sugarcoated safari atmospheres. If you have not seen the movie, it is very important to know the plot in order to understand the music. This African and American dualism/overlapping - but not Afro-American! - sees itself in the soundtrack: a mix of jazz, orchestrations and Afro folkloric references. Drawn by Baby Elephant Walk, the most famous piece, with their exotic timbres and rhythms, all the tracks are instrumental and captivating, although their emotional impact is all but overwhelming.


The soundtrack recording, born in mono and re-passed on the two channels afterward, is somehow affected by a sort of stereophonic approximation that is typical of the '60s. I want to remind that, even if it is true that in many fields extra fine recording techniques and methods are at that time a common occurrence - listen, for example to the famous Golden Age Records - in other occasions it is not yet assimilated how to manage two channels. Do not forget that in the home systems of that period it is not so unusual finding two loudspeakers placed in dubious positions, in a total asymmetric way, like: "the stereophonic triangle, an almost unheard-of placement".


All this preamble to frame the reason of a sound that is very centered on the single speakers, as it is about two groups of instruments that play together but one on the right and the other on the left. To this angular location, only The Sounds Of Hatari and the orchestral Just For Tonight slip away. On the other hand, this GN Records reissue, Gold Note label, is probably the best circulating vinyl version and it vitalizes very well the timbre of the percussions and all the micro-dynamic variations. Good but not excellent the detail, because bound by an extension that is a bit restrained at the frequency extremes.


Henry Mancini


GN Records/GNR-003




Track list:

A1 Theme From "Hatari!" 2:53

A2 Baby Elephant Walk 2:40

A3 Just For Tonight 2:00

A4 Your Father's Feathers 3:30

A5 Night Side 3:22

A6 Big Band Bwana 3:01

B1 The Sounds Of Hatari 6:41

B2 The Soft Touch 2:43

B3 Crocodile, Go Home! 2:53

by Luca
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