LIKE DUKE Ellington's film score for "Anatomy of a Murder," Wynton Marsalis's soundtrack for the Jon Amiel film "Tune in Tomorrow . . . " is likely take on a life of its own in jazz circles. It's also a dream advertisement for the film.
Based on the Mario Vargas Llosa novel "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter," the movie affords Marsalis a chance to conjure the sights and sounds of his native New Orleans with Ellingtonian flair. Of course, Marsalis would be the last person to make that comparison -- "what you say about Duke Ellington is never enough," he writes in the liner notes -- but given the soundtrack's emphasis on rich tonal colors, deeply textured ensemble performances and vibrantly descriptive passages, there's no mistaking Ellington's profound influence.
In some ways the appeal of the score isn't all that surprising; Marsalis, after all, has previously explored similar themes and tonal possibilities on "Crescent City Christmas Card" and "The Majesty of the Blues." But here the recording's scope, specificity and cast impose new demands on him. His trumpet, though often wonderfully expressive in its use of earthy smears, is just one voice in a multifaceted ensemble that makes the noirish "Big Trouble in the Big Easy," the swinging organ blues "Crescent City Crawl" and the insinuating charmer "Sunsettin' on the Bayou," among other pieces, so powerfully evocative. And speaking of voices, for lagniappe two of the best singers on earth -- New Orleans R&B great Johnny Adams and Washington's own Shirley Horn -- are briefly on hand as well.
WYNTON MARSALIS -- "Tune in Tomorrow . . . " (Columbia). Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.