Louisville Magazine

AUG 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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PEOPLE Master of His Domain By David Serchuk Photos by Nicholas Karem and Isaac Wolff For almost 25 years, localboy-done-good Jonathan Wolff found success composing music in the West Coast TV-sitcom industry, but forgive us if we dwell on just nine of those years — the period he hit the heights on Seinfeld. 30 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.13 C ouldn't help it. I just had to ask Jonathan Wolf if he could still do it. "You know," I said. "Te theme." Wolf smiled, eyes widening a bit. Ten he emitted a series of percussive mouth pops and lip-smacking sounds that probably made no sense to anyone bored enough to eavesdrop on this mild May morning inside a fairly empty Douglass Loop Heine Brothers, not far from Wolf's Cherokee Gardens home. But I knew those noises were parts of a larger music collage written by Wolf, little sounds that likely traveled from his mouth to your ears. Or at least they did if you ever watched the TV show Seinfeld. Wolf wrote its theme, music you can probably imagine right now, especially that snappy bass line. How big a deal is Seinfeld's theme? In 2010, Time ranked it No. 6 on its list of top 10 unforgettable TV sounds, behind the Law & Order "doink doink," Te Twilight Zone opening and the "Tink!" music on Jeopardy! (I know you're wondering. Te other two: the Roadrunner's "beep beep" and the 60 Minutes stopwatch.) And Seinfeld as show? TV Guide named it the greatest of all time, right in front of I Love Lucy. Some 76 million people watched the fnale. Te soundtrack for this year's Tunder Over Louisville was a montage of TV themes, and it included the Seinfeld music, though few in the crowd probably realized its composer is from Louisville. Wolf surely deserves some of the credit for Seinfeld's success, though he's modest about it. Regarding the theme, he says, "I found neat ways to make funny sounds with my lips." What about that bass line? "Tat simple, embarrassingly sophomoric bass line" was crafted as not to interfere with Jerry Seinfeld's monologue that initially opened the show. Wolf left Hollywood in 2005, seemingly at the top of his game, to move back to Louisville. Tanks to composing royalties from Seinfeld, and to a lesser extent Will & Grace, he could. "I was burned out," he says. He also wanted more time with his wife and four young children. Retirement agrees with him. At 54, he is alert, energetic and youthful, with closecropped blondish-gray hair. Cross-training keeps his 5-foot-7-inch frame compact and

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