Tales From The Trenches

After reading the script to Dreamwork’s ANCHORMAN, I was immediately struck by one section that featured an insane piece of musical slapstick. When I met with the film’s producer, Judd Apatow, he asked me to put together a piece of production music that would showcase Will Ferrell as the greatest jazz flute player in the world, or at least San Diego. The music editor had stuck together a few unrelated jazz flute segments that sort of conveyed director Adam McCay’s vision of how this potentially hysterical scene would play. My problem or challenge was to create a cool hip jazz number, and even more important, a piece that Will Ferrell could simulate in a convincing manner. The first step was to bring a flautist into the project that could roll with any of the punches I knew would be coming. Tom Evans was chosen for his chops and his musical flexibility. With Tom’s instrumental help, I put together a demo piece that jazz purists would accept but was still accessible enough that an average person could relate to it. All the powers that be listened to it and gave approval, so I though I was home free. Tom and I gathered a group of top players for the session. After a quick rehearsal, the guys played it down perfectly. Then the fun began. The director was delayed. When he finally showed up and listened to the finished piece, he loved it. But now, all of a sudden, he saw the pacing, the accents and the tempo of the number from an entirely different perspective. He had found his true vision. In short, he wanted the entire deck of cards reshuffled. I had that sinking feeling that composers get when two weeks of work goes up in smoke after the director makes a casual comment. In the next five minutes I rewrote the entire piece. Pencils flew as chords and phrases were changed. I conferred with each band member and totally reformulated the chart. Tom’s amazing flexibility shined through once more. He adapted all the complicated licks he was playing into a new format. To everyone’s amazement, including mine, the guys played the new chart down perfectly. The director was now beaming. Most important, Will Ferrell loved it. After Tom overdubbed a few parts to give us some choices, the session was over. Watching Will perform the piece live on the set was another experience but I can’t give that away.

..........You’ll have to see the movie.