Motherless Brooklyn was one of my favorite films of the year, so when the Society of Composers & Lyricists asked me to moderate a Q&A involving both the writer-director-star Edward Norton and his composer Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, Into the Spider-Verse), I couldn’t say no. Norton was thoughtful and articulate in discussing the entire music process — which also involved jazz great Wynton Marsalis and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke — and Pemberton talked about his musical experiments in London that ultimately gave Norton what he needed, dramatically speaking. (L-R: Pemberton, Norton, JB)
A Los Angeles Times assignment to interview all of the principals associated with the music of Motherless Brooklyn turned out to be irresistible. Director Edward Norton’s detective drama takes place in late 1950s New York, so he enlisted jazz legend Wynton Marsalis as consultant and arranger of the Harlem club standards seen and heard on screen; Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, whose sad song “Daily Battles” plays a key role in the storytelling; and film composer Daniel Pemberton, whose experiments with saxophone riffs, lyrical themes and modern-music sensibility tied it all together in the end.