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Louis Armstrong: Denmark 1933

Louis Armstrong: Denmark 1933

Back in 1933, before the hamming and caricature roles in movies, Armstrong was in Copenhagen, Denmark, during a year-long tour of Europe. There, three songs were filmed, the first time Armstrong was captured by a movie camera. What we see and hear is Armstrong on stage at the Tivoli Concert Hall playing and singing jazz's swing foundation, which would hold for the next two decades and beyond. Listen to his vocal, how he phrases and bends notes; listen to what ...

Documentary: Horace Parlan

Documentary: Horace Parlan

The response to my Horace Parlan post earlier this week was enormous. Parlan really was special and should be thought of as one of the Top-10 post-war piano greats. So why not another post on Parlan. Though I posted the following documentary some years back, I thought I'd post it again for the thousands of readers who are newly minted Parlan fans. A special thanks to Ken Deifik for reminding me about it. Here's Don McGlynn's Horace Parlan By Horace ...

Barney Wilen and Donald Byrd

Barney Wilen and Donald Byrd

In the summer of 1958, the Donald Byrd Quintet arrived in Paris to play at the Au Chat Qui Peche, a Left Bank jazz club. Also that summer, French saxophonist Barney Wilen was approached by film producer Sandro Bocola, who had an idea. In December 1957, Wilen had recorded with Miles Davis on the soundtrack to Elevator to the Gallows. Bocola wanted to make Jazz in Camera, an avant-garde film that would be an updating of Gjon Mili's Jammin' the ...

Jazz Doc: Stéphane Grappelli

Jazz Doc: Stéphane Grappelli

European jazz starts with Stéphane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France Quintet. The violinist along with guitarist Django Reinhardt added Louis Vola on bass and Joseph Reinhardt and Roger Chaput on guitar. The group ended its run in 1939 with the onset of World War II. Grappelli was in London when war broke out and remained there for the duration. Reinhardt was in Paris. They would reunite after the war. Grappelli is the father of the jazz violin and ...

Miles: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

Miles: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

Known in English as Elevator to the Gallows, this 1958 French crime film is notable for three reasons: The movie, directed by Louis Malle, launched French new wave cinema. It stars Jeanne Moreau, one of France's finest actresses and a personal favorite. And best of all, Miles Davis improvises throughout. In a nutshell, the film is about two lovers who become involved in a murder plot and are foiled when an elevator's power is cut. The rest is too complicated ...

Jazz 625: British Jazz

Jazz 625: British Jazz

Between April 1964 and August 1966, BBC2 in the U.K. aired an hour-long TV show called Jazz 625. It was broadcast on 625-lines UHF rather than the 405-lines VHF system then used by the other channels. This allowed for a better signal at home. What was particularly noteworthy about the show is that it began airing after a long-running dispute between the U.K. Musician's Union and the American Federation of Musicians was resolved. This allowed American musicians to perform in ...

Britain Plays the Blues

Britain Plays the Blues

How did all those British rock bands learn to play the blues in the 1960s and why were they so fascinated by the form? What was the unlikely impact of the Yardbirds, the Animals, the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, John Mayall, Cream and other British bands introducing white audiences to the blues in the U.S.? Most people think their education came from blues records they got their hands on in the U.K. And that playing here was something of an ...

Frech Doc: Bud Powell

Frech Doc: Bud Powell

To fully feel the beauty and grace of jazz at its highest level, you must appreciate the sadness that comes with the joy and the poetry that's baked into the music's history. They are one, like two sides of a coin. Virtually all of the exceptional jazz musicians had tragic sides, making one wonder whether greatness was even possible without the demons and deep sadness. Yesterday, Matt LeGrouix sent along a link to a stunning French documentary on Bud Powell ...


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