“The Man with the Golden Gun”: The case of the Danish saxophone solo (2020)


Did John Barry compose the saxophone solo heard in “The Man with the Golden Gun”? Or was he in fact using a library cue without crediting the Danish creators Ib Glindemann and Jesper Thilo? Bond•O•Rama.dk examines the evidence.

In 2012, Ib Glindemann, a veteran Danish composer and arranger of film scores and big band jazz, claimed that the saxophone intro of the John Barry track “Getting the Bullet” on the soundtrack album of “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974) is in fact not “one of Barry’s signature sexy saxophone solos” as Jon Burlingame puts it in his book “The Music of James Bond” but a cue that Glindemann composed as library music for the American market in the early 70’s.

Glindemann said that the tenor saxophone solo was performed by Jesper Thilo, a well-known Danish jazz musician. Thilo later confirmed his participation and even recalled performing the cue in a recording studio on Dortheavej in Copenhagen some 40 years ago.

“Yes - that’s me. I remember performing that solo,” Jesper Thilo said when Bond•O•Rama.dk played back the audio track from “The Man with the Golden Gun” to him in 2012.

The tenor saxophone part is featured on the film’s soundtrack while James Bond (as played by Roger Moore) is courting the belly dancer Saida (Carmen du Sautoy) backstage at a Beirut nightclub.

Film composer Søren Hyldgaard eventually tracked down further details from Glindemann. The cue in question is supposedly titled “Saxophone A” and  was sourced from a Chappell Production Music LP from 1973/74.

The compressed production schedule on “The Man with the Golden Gun” meant that John Barry had to come up with 57 full minutes of score in only three weeks' time. One tantalizing theory is that the pressure caused Barry to simply filch Glindemann and Thilo’s cue, take credit for it and hope no-one would ever notice!

Barry passed away in 2011, and neither Hyldgaard nor Glindemann managed to locate a copy of the Chappell LP before their deaths in respectively May 2018 and April 2019. Now, film score enthusiast Jesper Hansen from The Danish Film Music Archive has looked into the matter.

In the Warner/Chappell production music archive Hansen located about a dozen different saxophone parts credited to Glindemann and Thilo. In his words, they are all one of a piece with the Bond intro. But none of the solos match up perfectly with “Getting the Bullet”.

“If someone listened those tracks and then heard the Bond track, one could easily be led to believe that they were made during the same session,” Jesper Hansen says.

He doubts that the solo in “The Man with the Golden Gun” is 100 per cent identical to Ib Glindemann’s original composition:

“It is practically unheard of that a huge production like Bond would simply use an existing piece of music without securing the rights to it as this tends to be a costly affair for the producers! That’s why it seems likely that John Barry had heard Ib Glindemann and Jesper Thilo’s solo and recorded a variation on “Saxophone A” which sounded very similar to their composition but differed just enough to classify as an original piece.”

In other words, we may never know the exact details surrounding the saxophone cue from "The Man with the Golden Gun". But if you are the lucky owner of the library album from Warner/Chappell featuring Glindemann and Thilo’s “Saxophone A” then please get in touch!

Text by Brian Iskov
Do not reproduce without express permission from the author

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