British Columbia

Vancouver jazz star turns Hollywood on its head in new album

Project Paradiso is a new album featuring jazz interpretations of iconic Hollywood music.

Tony Foster Trio records jazz interpretations of music from classic movies in Project Paradiso

Oliver Stone's U-Turn was scored by academy award-winner Ennio Morricone, and the music is reinterpreted in Tony Foster's new album Project Paradiso.​ (Phoenix Pictures/Oliver Stone)

For most memorable films, there's a memorable soundtrack to go with them.

That's the philosophy behind Vancouver jazz musican Tony Foster's latest album Project Paradiso —  a 10-track tribute to film composers Ennio Morricone and Henry Mancini.

"I've always been kind of inspired by really strong melodies," said Foster, who joined host Margaret Gallagher on CBC's Hot Air.

"And a lot of the great movies, if you take that music away — it's just not the same movie."

Foster said he decided to focus on the two Oscar-winning Italian film composers — who have scored over 800 films combined — because of their breadth of iconic and complex material.

Juno-nominated Tony Foster joined host Maragaret Gallagher on CBC's Hot Air. (CBC)

Central to the album are jazz takes on tunes from Mancini's The Pink Panther and Morricone's Once Upon A Time in America.

"I just wanted to do kind of a mix of some songs that everybody knows and recognizes, along with some that most people might not have heard that I thought were really cool melodies," he said.

He then added his jazz trio's twist.

"I wanted to take them and not necessarily just regurgitate or copy the same style that they were done in, but to try to arrange them in a creative way that would fit my trio — with an acoustic bass, drums and piano," he said.

Channeling Morricone

But not all of the tracks are from critically acclaimed films.

Another prominent title on the album comes from Oliver Stone's U-turn starring Sean Penn, who plays a man on a mission to repay a Las Vegas gambling debt alongside his wife (played by Jennifer Lopez).

While the movie might not be anything special to film critics, Foster says Morricone's score is outstanding.

"The thing I liked about it was the music fit the environment of the movie," said Foster. "It had this kind of haunting melody — but there's also insanity to it."

Morricone, 88, has composed over 500 films over the course of his infamous career, culminating in his first Oscar win for best original score in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. His victory was met with a standing ovation during the ceremony.

Quincy Jones, center, and Pharell Williams, right, present Ennio Morricone with the award for best original score for The Hateful Eight at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/The Associated Press)

The composer has been Foster's long-time inspiration.

"I was reading a bit about him and it really impressed me that he does not compose at a piano — he just sits at a desk and starts writing. To me that's amazing, that it all just flows out of his head," Foster said.

"That's something to aspire to."

With files from CBC's Hot Air

To listen to the full interview and hear some songs from Project Paradiso, click on the audio labelled: Tony Foster turns Hollywood on its head in Project Paradiso