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The Wild One

The Wild OneThe Wild One, Marlon Brando’s 1953 motorcycle-gang movie, was based on a real-life 1947 incident in which thousands of bikers, many of them blue-collar World War II vets from Los Angeles, descended upon a northern California town and frightened its inhabitants by drag-racing up and down the streets and hurling beer bottles through storefront windows.

Wild One jazz themesLeith Stevens, who was commissioned to write the movie’s score, was a regular at the Lighthouse jazz club in Hermosa Beach, California, where trumpeter Shorty Rogers frequently gigged. Stevens played Rogers’ Capitol Records 10-inch LP Modern Sounds for Brando, who was so impressed that he insisted Rogers be used on the soundtrack. Rogers arranged Stevens’ compositions and brought in a number of fellow West Coast musicians to record them, including Jimmy Giuffre, Bud Shank, and Shelly Manne. The resulting “rebop,” as one of the film’s characters called it, was used to suggest a grimy but exuberant anarchy and rebellion.

Music Heard On This Episode

Miss D.D
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 2004)
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Miss D.D
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 2004)
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The Wild One
Leith Stevens All Stars — Jazz Themes from The Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Apropos
Shorty Rogers — Birth of the Cool V. 2 (Capitol, 1951)
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Blues for Brando
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Windswept
Shorty Rogers — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Lonely Way
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Black Rebel Ride
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Drag for Beers
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Chino
Shorty Rogers — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Beetle
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Scramble
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Prelude to a Rumble
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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Bewildered
Leith Stevens' All Stars — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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The Wild One
Shorty Rogers — Jazz Themes From the Wild One (Bear Family, 1953)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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