|Personnel: Jeff Richmond (vocals, melodica, clarinet, saxophone, piano, percussion, Theremin); Christine Ohlman, Neal Coomer, Everett Bradley, Kyle Gordon, Julia Joseph, Katreese Barnes, Elaine Caswell (vocals); Giancarlo Vulcano (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, electric bass); Eva Burmeister, Timothy Fain, Jesse Mills , Jeremy Turner, Max Mandel, Toni Glickman, Eran Sykes, Christina Courtin, Pico Alt, Joel Noyes, Edward Arron, Kingsley Wood, Robert Moose, Michael Midlarsky, Taylor Bergren-Christman, Milan Milisavljevic, Guillaume Pirard, Jeremy McCoy, Tim Lefebvre, Katherine Fong (strings); Laurie Krein, Earl Gardner (trumpet); Ryan Keberle, Clark Gayton, Brian Drye (trombone); Shawn Pelton (drums, percussion); Stanley Harrison, Lenny Pickett , Lou Marini, Steve Elson (wind).
|With all of the things going on in any given episode of 30 Rock, it's easy to overlook just how big a part the show's music plays in its comedic brilliance. This ample soundtrack rectifies that, dedicating most of one disc to Jeff Richmond's score and one to the songs sung by the cast. Listening to Richmond's music on its own reveals just how much of its personality is reflected in the show and vice versa; based in jazz, big band, and lounge, his cues are sophisticated and goofy at the same time, and witty in their own right. There are few other shows where a piece adapted from Franz Schubert appears alongside a track called "Spanx." Richmond rummages through musical history, coming up with sounds that are retro and fresh: "Theme from 30 Rock" nods to Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott, among others, as it bounds along with cartoonish glee; "Cha Cha" channels a sleek, Henry Mancini vibe; and "Claire" evokes Django Reinhardt with its brisk whimsy. Richmond is also nothing if not versatile; for every outrageous piece like the campy, brassy "Boys in Gayland," there's something subtler, like "Meet Donny"'s suave lounge or "Sunset Rounds," a piece of almost completely straight piano jazz with just a few winks. Perhaps Richmond's most successful feat is imbuing 30 Rock's music with New York City's essence. "Lizzie's Blues" distills it with a melody inspired by Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," but the lilting woodwinds that flit throughout the score keep it lingering in the background. There are a few songs with vocals on the first disc, most notably Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis' `60s musical homage to "Cleveland" and Michael Bubl?'s "Mr. Templeton," but the fun really begins on disc two, which almost feels like a compilation of Jane Krakowski's greatest hits. Jenna Maroney is the biggest songbird on 30 Rock and its show within a show, TGS, and there's enough of her glorious hamminess to fill a deli on "Muffin Top," "Make a Pizza," "Tennis Night," and "That's Her." However, other members of the cast manage to get some songs in edgewise, most notably Tracy Morgan, whose "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" might be the single funniest thing on the set. Yet the best song overall might be "All My Nights I've Been Waiting." Sung by Christopher Cross, it's a pitch-perfect parody and homage to songs like "Arthur's Theme," and another of the many ways 30 Rock pays tribute to the New York comedies that came before it. The feeling of camaraderie on this soundtrack is no surprise -- Richmond has worked with his wife Fey and some of the show's other stars for years prior on SNL -- but it is delightful. Aside from the small complaint that Richmond's cues are grouped in medleys, making it hard to pinpoint each one, this is a fun, thorough set for 30 Rock fans and soundtrack buffs. [Die-hard fans will want the collector's edition of the set, which includes a coffee-table book filled with cast photos and essays by Richmond, Fey, and other members of the 30 Rock team.] ~ Heather Phares