Petra Haden long ago surpassed the coolness factor of being one of the triplet daughters of jazz bassist Charlie Haden with a rich slew of musical endeavors. Most notable among these have been her multitracked a capella recordings. Petra Goes to the Movies is her follow-up to 2005’s Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out.
What this new set allowed that its predecessor couldn’t was her freedom to shape it, curatorially, any way she chose. There’s a rich continent of compositions with their roots in the movies to draw from, whereas covering the specificities of one whole album, The Who Sell Out, means that you’ve got to ride the full course if you‘re going to pull it off (which she did). Ultimately, though, interest in her Who album is closely tied to one’s connection with the original work. Here she moves easily from a readily recognizable piece like “Goldfinger Main Theme” to her endearing take on the lesser-known gem that is “Cool Hand Luke Main Theme.” Other highlights include her take on “Carlotta’s Galop” from Fellini’s 8½ and the sweetly melancholic “It Might Be You” from Tootsie (which is one a few selections featuring spare instrumental accompaniment, this one with guitarist Bill Frisell).
No mere stunt, Petra Goes to the Movies has depth, beauty and surprise beyond what the thumbnail sketch of the concept might suggest.