Those who have been paying attention know Matt Catingub as a Polynesian composer whose music has appeared in “A Beautiful Mind”, “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Night And Good Luck”.
Others might know him as the conductor of the Honolulu Symphony or the musical director and arranger who toured for many years with “easy listening” artists like Rosemary Clooney.
He’s widely recognized as an expert in an era of popular music that featured the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
It’s a genre he comes to honestly as the son of Jazz vocalist Mavis Rivers, the first female artist Sinatra signed to his renowned Reprise label.
Catingub grew up around Reprise studios and the “Rat Pack” and now keeps that music alive by taking local symphony orchestras and transforming them for an evening into the orchestras made famous by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Count Basie.
For those who work in television, those evenings are a mix of nostalgia and musical forensics.
Because at the time Sinatra’s Rat Pack were dominating the showbiz scene and hip culture, the band leaders who composed and arranged their music were the creators or primary influence of most of the music on television.
Riddle began scoring TV series in 1962 with “Sam Benedict” and went on to “The Naked City”, “The Untouchables”, “Route 66”, “Tarzan” and many others.
May was best known for “Batman” and “The Green Hornet” as well as seasons of “The Mod Squad”, CHiPs” and “Emergency”.
They were of a time when series television was scored like movies, an entire orchestra coming into the studio and playing to projected sequences of edited film every week.
Later the process evolved to synthesizers and sampling and the same cues being recycled from episode to episode to cut down on costs.
These days it often seems like the concept of creating music to reflect and enhance the emotional intent of TV scenes has been tossed aside in favor of previously released music the audience already knows.
“Oh, there’s Nora Jones! And here comes Radiohead! Everybody cry on cue now!”
Attending one of Matt Cutingub’s concerts reminds you of the power of original orchestral music played by artists contributing their own interpretation of what the writer, director and others have put on screen.
It’s not yet a lost art, as the following clip of music from a pretty good but not much attended film exemplifies. Perhaps a reminder of how much a great score can enhance the audience experience.
Enjoy Your Sunday.