The Private Eye Who Made Cool Jazz His Calling Card

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Actor Craig Stevens as TV detective Peter Gunn in 1959.

In the late 1950s, detective shows were all the rage. Today, the series Peter Gunn, starring Craig Stevens as the titular gumshoe, has faded a bit from popular memory. Its theme music, however, remains unforgettable.

Henry Mancini's classic score for the show has been covered over the years by everyone from guitar-slinger Duane Eddy to jazz singer Sarah Vaughn to progressive rockers Emerson Lake & Palmer. Now, there's a new album with a big brassy arrangement for a symphonic jazz orchestra, played by the Harmonie Ensemble/New York.

Steven Richman, the group's conductor and music director, told NPR's Linda Wertheimer why he thinks the show's cool, jazzy theme is so indelible. Hear their conversation, and selections from the album Henry Mancini: Music for Peter Gunn, at the audio link.

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