John Lurie Announces 'Painting With John' Double Album Soundtrack

Article Contributed by Calabro Music Media | Published on Tuesday, December 12, 2023

John Lurie has announced Painting With John, a double album of music from his widely popular and critically acclaimed HBO/MAX series of the same name. Set for release March 15, 2024 on his own label imprint, Strange & Beautiful Music, the soundtrack features 56 tracks, including new material written exclusively for the series, as well as, classic recordings spanning his discography. The collection will be released on limited edition, two-LP, 180-gram vinyl and digital formats. Pre-order begins today and is available HERE.

In the penultimate episode of Painting With John, its creator, John Lurie, sat in a Manhattan recording studio, working out musical parts for the show's soundtrack. Although he occupies an enigmatic, multi-faceted, five-decade career characterized by the unexpected, even Lurie is surprised by this new release of a double-album collection of music extracted from the series.  

“After the illness started," says Lurie. "I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do this again."

Go back a quarter-century or so. As an exotic saxophonist and composer whose pieces alternately recalled cracked-mirror reflections of Thelonious Monk, or Fela Kuti, or Raymond Chandler, Lurie led the vastly influential, downtown NYC jazz ensemble, The Lounge Lizards, through dazzling albums and tours across the globe. He scored indie films and Hollywood hits, collecting a Grammy nomination for Get Shorty along the way and releasing his own surreality-TV series, Fishing with John. Then, Lurie contracted an especially potent strain of Lyme disease that turned sound and light into elemental enemies. He put down his saxophone, stepped away from the camera, and retreated. He lived in isolation and painted. And then he got cancer.

The sum total of Lurie’s brilliant and evolving third act—including a return to music and acting, his fascinating memoir, History Of Bones, and a resurgent career as an arrestingly original watercolor painter living on a Caribbean island—makes it all the more unlikely.  As well, it makes this double LP an astounding and comprehensive compilation epitomizing Lurie’s uniquely eclectic and provocative artistry; an immersive, captivating experience at its most affecting when listened to as a complete thought, from start to finish.

The 56-track set borrows from Lurie’s library of pre-existing creations ranging from indie soundtracks, Manny and Lo and African Swim, and the exhumed discography of Lurie’s fictive bluesman, Marvin Pontiac, and even back to The Lounge Lizards, as well as several new pieces written and performed to align with the show’s panorama of narratives.  The work rises from the seeds of the blues, exults in polyrhythmic exhales of African music, rides absurdist, elliptical chants, and drapes vignettes in greasy, funky noir.

Whether in short bursts of inspiration (“Unky G,” “Dervish Banjo,” “Ride Like The Wind, You Idiots”) or extended, looping conceits (“African Swim,” “Sea Monster,” “The First and Royal Queen”) Lurie’s arrangements wrap, hydra-like, around contrapuntal lines of his exotically primitive banjo and groove-soaked guitar, or embed themselves into elegant orchestrations, ignited by co-conspirators from the Lizard days, as well as players new to Lurie’s world.  In every instance, the gathered ensembles, that include such luminaries as Steven Bernstein (trumpet), G. Calvin Weston (drums), Jane Scarpantoni (cello), Clark Gayton (trombone), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Doug Wieselman (guitar), Evan Lurie (piano), Smokey Hormel (guitar), Michael Blake (tenor saxophone) and Billy Martin (drums), unearth the music as much as perform it; hatching and solving the mystery in simultaneous solidarity.

It’s a journey; a travelogue of genre, style, and invention as fluid and evocative as the artist. Pure of intent, and engaging at every turn, Painting With John is both companion and stand-alone, detailed soundtrack and joyous summary.

"This may be the last thing I do,” Lurie says. “I want it to be beautiful.”

Track Listing

1. Painting with John: New Opening
2. African Swim: Main Titles
3. Al Al Al Al
4. Goodbye to Peach
5. Floating Clarinet
6. Temple of Banjos
7. My Little Garden Gnome
8. Flutter
9. Driving into Country
10. Ali Hum
11. Small Car
12. Pygmy with Dog Barks
13. Wah Wah
14. I hope she is okay
15. I don’t like to stand on line
16. Banjo to The Fuzzy
17. Bird Rules The Herd
18. Old Man Dancing
19. Banjo Delightful One
20. Unky G
21. Cowboy Beckett Ocarina
22. Boomba
23. Dervish Banjo
24. Vibe Whoops
25. Unbelievable
26. Hog Head Blue
27. Hum Ba
28. Banjo Delightful 3
29. Floating Nesrin
30. Habba Happatoo
31. John & Calvin Wah Wah
32. A Goat says Fuck
33. Hermits Unite
34. Detective Erik Muspaterre
35. John Gun Walk
36. Sea Monster
37. Beastliness
38. These are not the dots that connect it, those are the other dots.
39. Lighter Dervish
40. Helium Balloon
41. The Emperor of Cameldom
42. Nesrin’s Gun Walk
43. Cowboy Beckett Jaunty Guitar with Hoo Hahs
44. Disappearing Alligator
45. Banjo Confusion
46. Baby Pigs
47. Episode 5 with Clapping
48. The Beast
49. The Explosion
50. The Snake that protects teeth
51. Ride like the wind, you idiots!
52. The Night Hunters
53. GB-14
54. Once upon a time, there was something delightful
55. The First and Royal Queen
56. The Invention Of Animals