Various Artists – The Tic Code – Soundtrack

The Tic Code Various Artists
The Tic Code – Soundtrack
(Razor & Tie – 2000)
by John Barrett

Michael Wolff has a mild case of Tourette’s Syndrome, a condition producing involuntary twitches, or “tics”. He was teased as a kid, and his story helped inspire The Tic Code, where a child prodigy meets his idol, a jazzman played by Gregory Hines. Michael also wrote the film’s music, which dances pretty – and walks proud. “Fur Elise” makes Beethoven swing, with a light touch reminiscent of Bill Evans. Things get tough stops by; his tenor stomps in “Hoss’ Flat”, then rides the Trane on “Portraiture”.

A tough sax trio, this gets a boost from the bass of John B. Williams, who played next to Wolff in the Arsenio Hall band. The vibes roll high on an ebullient “Soul Sauce” (Mike got his start as a Cal Tjader sideman) and Foster shouts up a storm. And “Blues Period” has a nice uptown sheen – Wolff slinks as Foster struts. This is the classic sound, shades of the “golden days” jazz fans keep talking about. With these new traditions and Wolff’s new ideas, maybe the golden days are now.

Between the songs are short cues, which set a mood and get the job done. “Uptown Local” has screaming angst, ending on a gunshot; so intense it made me shiver. “Ballade Noire” is wearily elegant, worthy of Satie. Like “Elise”, this sounds like a classicist, taking his first steps in the world of jazz. For classics of another sort, we have Monk: a great version of “Straight, No Chaser”, done with Milt Jackson. We get the LP version of “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, where Cannonball preaches about facing adversity. That’s a wonderful touch, as it reminds us of the film’s message. Listening to this will drive off the blue feelings – that’s one of the things jazz is for.