Saturday, June 27, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Summer 2015 jazz film festival

Longtime StLJN readers may recall that in summer when there's a temporary dearth of touring acts scheduled to hit St. Louis in a given week, this space occasionally has been diverted from previewing upcoming shows to present an online festival of jazz films suitable for whiling away a few idle hours. And so it is once again this year, as we offer a half-dozen music-related movies for your viewing and listening enjoyment.

First up is Celebrating a Masterpiece: Kind of Blue, a 55–minute documentary from 2008 that tells the story behind Miles Davis' historic album through interviews and vintage performance footage. Produced for the 50th anniversary box set reissue of the album, the film was directed by Chris Lenz, written by the noted record producer and critic Michael Cuscuna, and co-produced by author and journalist Ashley Kahn, who in 2000 wrote a well-regarded book on the same subject.

After the jump, you can see Free the Jazz, a 2014 film by director Czabán György that looks at contemporary improvised music from the perspective of practitioners such as Matthew Shipp, Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, and others.

That's followed by Jazz Legends in Their Own Words, a documentary from the BBC compiling clips from their archives with performances and interviews from musicians including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Moving from the famous to the not-so-famous, Joe Albany...A Jazz Life is a 1980 documentary film, shot in 16mm, that recounts the often-troubled life of the bop pianist best known for his recordings with saxophonist Charlie Parker. More recently, Albany's daughter A.J. wrote a book about her dad, Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood that in 2013 was made into a feature film starring John Hawkes as Albany.

After that, you can see Maceo Parker - My First Name Is Maceo, a documentary about the life and music of the alto saxophonist known for his work with James Brown and George Clinton.

Last but not least, we keep it on the one with The Story of Funk - One Nation under a Groove, a BBC documentary that does a reasonably good job of recounting the rapid evolution of funk music from the prototypical sounds devised in the late 1960s by Brown and Sly Stone into one of the dominant musical styles of the 1970s.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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