Jazz on Film

Despite all the unique personalities and wonderful music they produced one has to look hard to find movies where jazz stories are front and center, especially in recent decades.

Jazz on Film: Rollins - Last of the Great Jazz Redwoods

Feb 6, 2015

Once upon a time there were titans who needed only one name to be identified--Hawk, Prez, Bird, Trane; all of them saxophonists. Sonny Rollins is probably that last living link to these giants, and he played with them all, as well as Mingus, Bud Powell Miles, Dizzy, Monk, Clifford Brown and Max Roach. In 1948 he made his first recordings at age 17 and has led his own groups, made records, and toured the world for over 60 years. He is a master of tone and rhythm, with a simultaneously sincere and insouciant way of quoting popular tunes or phrases into his solos.

Jazz on Film: So Square and So Hip

Jan 15, 2015

Jack Webb’s iconic character Joe Friday and program "Dragnet" forever fixed him as the no-nonsense, straight talking and ultra-square cultural figure firmly behind law and order and unmoved by societal changes in the 1950s and 60s. Yet few knew that Webb got his start as a late-night jazz DJ before moving to radio broadcasts and television. He is reputed to have had more than 6,000 jazz records, including everything done by Bix Beiderbecke as well as his love for the modern jazz of the 50s. His first wife was the actor-singer Julie London.

Jazz on Film: Tom Dowd & The Language of Music

Dec 11, 2014

Here’s a simple quiz. What do John Coltrane, Ray Charles, The Drifters, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin, Ornette Coleman, The Cream, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Lynard Skynard, Charles Mingus, the Allman Brothers, MJQ, and Otis Redding all have in common?  The answer is Tom Dowd, who engineered many of their (and others’) most important recordings. From 1948 at age 23 until the mid-70s Tom Dowd was the chief engineer for Atlantic Records and remained one of the most influential and innovative contributors to the work of popular music and sound recording until near his death in 2002.

Jazz on Film: A Brother with Perfect Timing

Nov 5, 2014

“If what I grew up with in South Africa is world music, I don’t know what it means. Perhaps it is to identify it as folklore. But what makes it separate? Satchmo said, ‘All music is folk music: I never heard a horse sing.’ The only criterion I have is whether it moves you.”

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