Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Paul Horn's Jazz Impressions of CLEOPATRA [From The Archives]

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Recent research has revealed that Antony and Cleopatra - one of history's most romantic couples - were not the great beauties that Hollywood would have us believe.

A study of a 2,000-year-old silver coin found the Egyptian queen, famously portrayed by a sultry Elizabeth Taylor, had a shallow forehead, pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose.

On the other side, her Roman lover, played in the 1963 movie by Richard Burton, Taylor's husband at the time, had bulging eyes, a hook nose and a thick neck.

History has depicted Cleopatra as a great beauty, befitting a woman who as Queen of Egypt seduced Julius Caesar, and then his rival Mark Antony.

But the coin, which goes on show on Wednesday at Newcastle University for Valentine's Day, after years lying in a bank, is much less flattering about both famous faces.

The 32 BC artifact was in a collection belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, which is being researched in preparation for the opening of the new Great North Museum.

Clare Pickersgill, the university's assistant director of archaeological museums, said: "The popular image we have of Cleopatra is that of a beautiful queen who was adored by Roman politicians and generals. The relationship between Mark Antony and Cleopatra has long been romanticized by writers, artists and film-makers.

"Shakespeare wrote his tragedy Antony and Cleopatra in 1608, while the Orientalist artists of the 19th century and the modern Hollywood depictions, such as that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1963 film, have added to the idea that Cleopatra was a great beauty. Recent research would seem to disagree with this portrayal, however."

The university's director of archaeological museums, Lindsay Allason-Jones, said: "The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

"Roman writers tell us that Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic, and that she had a seductive voice but, tellingly, they do not mention her beauty. The image of Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress is a more recent image."

While the editorial staff at JazzProfiles is saddened to learn that Hollywood didn’t get it right, again, we were delighted when producers at Columbia Records commissioned Paul Horn to make a “Jazz Impressions” LP of composer Alex North’s fine score to Cleopatra [he is also the composer of the film score for the movie Spartacus].

In a way, the Paul’s Jazz Impressions of Cleopatra turned out to be a family affair as both of my drum teachers, Victor Feldman and Larry Bunker played piano and percussion, respectively, on the album. In addition to Paul [who plays flute exclusively], Victor and Larry, the LP features the talents of Emil Richards on vibes and Chuck Israels on bass.

It doesn’t appear that this recording ever made it to CD. To rectify this omission, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles and the cracker-jack production team at CerraJazzLTD have developed the following video which features the Paul Horn Quintet performing  Grant Me an Honorable Way to Die from the Columbia LP Cleopatra [CL 2050] as the audio track.