In The Heat of the Night/They Call Me Mister Tibbs!
This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As innocuous as the soundtracks to a couple of Sidney Poitier films might seem, the music on this disc quickly sheds any similarity to background noise and establishes itself as one of the best film scores I’ve heard since Vampyros Lesbos. Similar to Vampyros, some of the music here is a heady mix of jazz, rock and funk. Other tracks however take a considerably more traditional approach, complementing the films’ themes — the influence of Delta blues on Heat of the Night is readily apparent, while Mister Tibbs has a more urban flavor. Composer Quincy Jones, always a musical powerhouse, shows a meticulous approach to the subject matter, matching sounds and feelings with the action onscreen without sacrificing the music’s independence. This proves to be a disc that stands well on its own, with sounds ranging from the moody and pensive to the joyful and exuberant. Fans of cool jazz, gospel hybrids, and Poitier’s powerful delivery of the line “They call me Mister Tibbs!” would do well to hunt this down.