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Section Header
1997 Sony

2013 La-La Land

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Vincent Bartold

Notable Solo Performances by:
Shirley Caesar
Dean Parks
Tommy Morgan

Labels and Dates:
Sony Classical
(March 11th, 1997)

La-La Land Records
(May 21st, 2013)

Also See:
Home Alone
Schindler's List

Audio Clips:
1997 Album:

1. Rosewood (0:31):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (247K)
Real Audio (153K)

3. The Hounds of Sumner (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

14. Mann at Rosewood (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

15. Look Down, Lord (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

The 1997 Sony Classical album is a regular U.S. release. The expanded 2013 La-La Land Records product is limited to 3,500 copies and available primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $25.



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Buy it... if you're prepared for the same restrained pacing and outward respect as heard in John Williams' JFK, but this time saturated with the distinctly authentic flavor of America's Deep South.

Avoid it... if the bluesy Americana feel created by harmonica, fiddle, piano, guitar, and jaw harp, as well as numerous ensemble gospel vocals, might negatively distract you from Williams' subdued orchestral beauty in this score.

Rosewood: (John Williams) For sixty years, America was unaware of the tragedy that occurred in the small Florida town of Rosewood in 1922. A race riot by whites from that and neighboring areas left the town in ruins and led to the shooting, burning, or lynching deaths of between 70 and 250 black residents. The cover-up of the massacre at Rosewood is typical in the history of the deep southern regions of America at the time; the state's police indicated after the mob attack that only as many as half a dozen people actually died at Rosewood in the riot. It wasn't until newspaper reports in the 1980's and later descriptions of the event on the Discovery Channel that the true extent of the mob's damage and carnage was exposed. By 1997, director John Singleton had matured greatly since his debut with Boyz N the Hood at the start of the decade, and Rosewood was a dramatic and significant endeavor that ended up being very expensive to produce. It's hard to market films like Rosewood to the mass American public because, if not for simply for the shame involved with the actions of whites of that period, there remains little appeal for people to witness such tragedy. This despite some effort to infuse the tale with a fictional Western-styled hero and the survival of characters who in real life perished during the assaults. One element that came in over budget was the score for the movie, which was originally composed by Wynton Marsalis and featured his distinctive jazz and blues touch. Deeming Marsalis' music inadequate for the gravity of the picture, however, the filmmakers would seek the ultimate upgrade by turning to John Williams, who had won the world over with his score for another challenging, emotional docudrama, Schindler's List, not long before. Marsalis' finished score can be heard, incidentally, on his 1999 CD release, "Reeltime," and portions of that work were utilized as source material in the final cut. The move from Marsalis, an amateur at film score writing on this level, to the maestro Williams is an enormous leap, and a welcome one given the usual quality of Williams' work. Not only had Williams already written music in the 1990's for dark passages in America's past (JFK, Nixon), but one can reach all the way back to the early 1970's to realize that Williams is also skilled in the bluesy twang of the Deep South.

Stylistic similarities between Rosewood and scores such as The Sugarland Express, Conrack, and The Missouri Breaks indicate that Williams doesn't just conjure the attitude in Rosewood from thin air, though the average weightiness of his music had vastly increased in the meantime, partially due to the composer's growth as a talent and the necessities of the story of Rosewood in particular. While on their surface, the rhythms and instrumentation of Rosewood may seem like a significant departure from Williams' usual styles (it didn't help Rosewood's cause that the Special Editions of the original Star Wars trilogy were being released into theatres at exactly the same time), it's easy to hear that the composer followed a very clear process that mirrors, most interestingly, Home Alone in structure. For Rosewood, Williams composes three gospel songs that serve the same purpose (and are integrated in exactly the same way) as his original carols in Home Alone. The first, "Look Down, Lord," is the piece of lament in the score, while the other two become more progressively optimistic and eventually triumphant in "The Freedom Train," which was unused in the picture but likely intended for the conclusion of the train escape sequence near the end of the story. The adult African American vocals in these songs, a far cry stylistically from what was to follow shortly in Williams' Amistad, extend to sections of the original score, sometimes leading the start of an orchestral cue. The score itself features two full, satisfying themes and one darker motif to represent the whites' attitudes. The main theme is performed by harmonica, fiddle, piano, guitar, and jaw harp, with a full orchestral ensemble available for the more beautiful (and standard) string renditions of Williams' Americana variants. A noble horn version of the theme reflects the main black character's veteran status and his efforts to bring Western-style order to the land, heard first in "The Arrival of Mann" and several times thereafter. The second major theme in Rosewood is for that character's love interest and is interspersed in soft woodwind interludes for their scenes together. The authenticity of the score's presentation of these themes is outstanding, mixing the standout solo instruments with an occasional sound effect of throaty exhales of voice and the expected rambling of timpani for moments of dread.

1997 Album:
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The often twangy, four-note motif that Williams uses to identify racism in general, and the impending danger that comes with it, offers a minor-key progression that mixes well with the blues of the surrounding music and is presented by the brass section in several cues. Relentless string chopping, with continuous jaw harp and fluttering woodwind performances over a violent acoustic guitar, represent the actual moments of violence. The overarching attitude of Williams' music has the same restrained pacing and outward respect as JFK, applying even some mournful brass solos of equivalent dignity. These moments culminate in "Sylvester Joins the Group" (senselessly named "Mann at Rosewood" on the initial album release), the score's deeply melodic cue of redemption that, when accelerating the primary theme for orchestra, begins to resemble Far and Away. It's easy to have respect for Rosewood in how it tackles its duties, for it accomplishes what it needs to do at Williams' normal standards of excellence. But like a handful of similarly rendered Williams works, Rosewood is not a readily enjoyable listening experience out of context, especially when attempting to appreciate the performances outside of those that feature the main Americana theme. The 50-minute presentation assembled by Williams for the original 1997 album release by Sony Classical contained the original songs and brief snippets of the source material but only provided about half of Williams' actual underscore. In 2013, La-La Land Records released a 2-CD set containing that original presentation on one CD but including the full 78 minutes of score on the other (without the gospel songs mixed in between). This proper arrangement of the material does yield several notable new moments, including the actual, full opening sequence of the score and other renditions of the melodic content. In many cues, however, the additional material is incidental. Even the newly offered performances of the love theme are somewhat mundane, supporting Williams' initial arrangement as a strong one. No matter which album for Rosewood you choose to explore, the score can be quite laborious unless you are prepared to share the remembrance of the events by getting caught in the emotional grip of the music's authentic tone. The gospel portions are definitely not for every listener, and their very forward vocals break the flow of the orchestral performances in many places on the original album presentation. This is an entry likely to be revisited only occasionally by even Williams' most ardent enthusiasts. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.74 (in 69 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.59 (in 337,529 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

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 Track Listings (1997 Sony Classical Album): Total Time: 49:33

• 1. Rosewood (3:31)
• 2. Look, Down Lord (2:12)
• 3. The Hounds of Sumner (1:49)
• 4. Healing (4:08)
• 5. Light my Way (3:42)
• 6. Trouble in Town (3:16)
• 7. Aunt Sara's Death (3:17)
• 8. After the Fire (3:37)
• 9. The Town of Sumner (2:36)
• 10. The Town Burns (4:19)
• 11. Scrappie and Mann Bond (4:14)
• 12. The Freedom Train (1:50)
• 13. False Accusation (3:18)
• 14. Mann at Rosewood (3:14)
• 15. Look Down, Lord (Reprise and Finale) (4:12)

 Track Listings (2013 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 127:34

CD1: The Instrumental Score: (77:59)
• 1. Rosewood (2:21)
• 2. The Town of Sumner (2:10)
• 3. The Arrival of Mann (2:18)
• 4. Mann Goes Shopping/Mann Meets Scrappie (2:38)
• 5. Prayers at Dinner/The Wrights/War Drums (3:53)
• 6. Scrappie and Mann Bond/The Beating (5:41)
• 7. False Accusation (3:22)
• 8. The Lie/Arresting Aaron (3:43)
• 9. Roughing up Aaron/Aaron in Jail (2:55)
• 10. Sam's Murder (2:38)
• 11. Discovering Sam's Body/Mann's First Exit (2:01)
• 12. Exchanging Gifts/Cracker Mob (2:44)
• 13. Sarah is Shot/Attack on the House (3:51)
• 14. Kids to the Woods/The House Burns (3:07)
• 15. The Fire/Fanny's Guilt (3:12)
• 16. The Klan Gathers/Wright's Decision/The Crackers Gather (4:19)
• 17. Mann Rescues the Kids (5:03)
• 18. Hide the Man, John/Wright's Dilemma/We Meet at Eight (3:51)
• 19. Mann Leads the Group (1:02)
• 20. Crossing the Road (2:02)
• 21. The Capture of Mann/Mann's Great Escape (3:53)
• 22. Burning Town/Sylvester Joins the Group (3:48)
• 23. After the Fire (4:27)
• 24. End Titles (3:11)

CD2: 1997 Soundtrack Album: (49:35)
• 1. Rosewood (3:36)
• 2. Look Down, Lord (2:13)
• 3. The Hounds of Sumner (1:50)
• 4. Healing (4:09)
• 5. Light My Way (3:44)
• 6. Trouble in Town (3:16)
• 7. Aunt Sarah's Death (3:18)
• 8. After the Fire (3:38)
• 9. The Town of Sumner (2:36)
• 10. The Town Burns (4:21)
• 11. Scrappie and Mann Bond (4:14)
• 12. The Freedom Train (1:53)
• 13. False Accusation (3:19)
• 14. Mann at Rosewood (3:14)
• 15. Look Down, Lord (Reprise and Finale) (4:13)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1997 Sony Classical album includes no extra information about the score or film. That of the 2013 La-La Land set contains extensive notation about both.

  All artwork and sound clips from Rosewood are Copyright © 1997, Sony Classical, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/13/97 and last updated 7/4/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.