Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Manos Soundtrack

Until now, the soundtrack to Manos: The Hands of Fate has been pretty much a mystery.  Other than music composer/ pianist Robert Smith and songwriter Russ Huddleston, we knew nothing of the people who played the music.  The vocalists and musicians were never credited in the film.  Through research for my Manos book and a few serendipitous connections, I was able to find nearly all of them.  A random sighting on a facebook post ultimately started the domino effect.  It's as though everything I need to get this story done is now being handed to me and I can't tell you how exciting that is. 
For those who have actually watched Manos all the way through, you may have noticed the music.  It's so unique and odd at times but if you listen, there is no doubt that there is a lot of talent involved.  How is it that Hal Warren, with little more than a silver tongue could convince this group of accomplished musicians to create an original soundtrack for a film they knew nothing about?  Saving that whole story for later but for now, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Nicki Mathis, the vocalist on "Forgetting You" and Magic Circle".  I've had the supreme honor of speaking with her on the phone and we continue building our friendship online.  Nicki was already an accomplished Jazz singer in El Paso by the time she was recording the Manos soundtrack in 1966, and in fact had helped organize and had performed in First Pass of the North Jazz Festival in El Paso, TX, in 1959, featuring Dave Bruebeck, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello; Chico Hamilton with Eric Dolphy; Lambert, Hendricks and Ross; Chris Conner; and Maynard Ferguson with Anne Marie Moss; the concert master of ceremonies was Leonard Feather.  She has an anthology album out that really highlights her beautiful voice and I would encourage Manos fans to take a listen and buy her CD.  Gotta support the arts!
Nicki Mathis' Afrikan Amerikan Jazz

Nicki is my kind of a woman.  She is elegant with a sharp wit and great sense of humor.  I love when she told me how glad she was to learn that Manos is known as the worst movie ever made because she and her band mates were thinking pretty much the same thing at the 1966 premiere.  She was just too polite to say so until now.  Isn't it nice to be validated?

Hope to chat with some of the others this week so if you've got any questions you want me to ask, now's the time.  Post your questions here or connect with me through my Facebook page. 
Debbies Manos The Hands of Fate.  Be sure to press that little "like" button while visiting.

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