Saturday, August 11, 2012

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Jazz film festival 2012

As we did last year around this time, this week we're taking a break from the usual routine of previewing upcoming shows and showcasing St. Louis musicians for a sort of summer vacation post, featuring a half-dozen full-length jazz films for your late summer viewing and listening pleasure.

Our first film up top is The Miles Davis Story, a British documentary from 2001 that uses interviews and rare footage to recount Davis' life, from his upbringing in East St. Louis to his last years as one of the most celebrated musicians in jazz.

Down below is The Charlie Parker Story, a BBC Wales documentary made in 2001 about the legendary alto saxophonist who helped invent bebop (and also gave Davis his first big break).

Next up is Blue Note - A Story of Modern Jazz, a 1997 German film about the legendary record label that focuses on its founder, Alfred Lion.

That's followed by Count Basie: Then As Now, Count's The King, a 2008 documentary that uses rare footage and interviews with former sidemen to pay tribute to the great big band leader and pianist.

We finish with two films from the 1980s that examine the well-worn stereotype of the tragic jazz musician. Let's Get Lost is a American documentary film from 1988 about the turbulent life and career of trumpeter Chet Baker, written and directed by Bruce Weber.

Today's final film, Round Midnight is a critically acclaimed drama from 1986 that features real-life tenor saxophone great Dexter Gordon in the role of fictional saxophonist Dale Turner. Directed by Bernard Tavernier, it's the story of "a musician slowly losing the battle with alcoholism, estranged from his family, and hanging on by a thread in the 1950's New York jazz world" before getting an offer to play in Paris and a chance at redemption.

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