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Jazz was so potent in the 1950s that young experimental filmmakers in New York tried to express the improvisational feel with motion and abstraction. I've been doing a bit of research lately on the subject. Here are four of the best by the New York school of filmmakers with a fifth as a bonus.
Here's D.A. Pennebaker's Daybreak Express, inspired by Duke Ellington's recording. The 15-minute film, from 1953, captured New York's Third Ave. elevated train two years before it was torn down, with Ellington's music as a backdrop...
Here's Francis Thompson's N.Y., N.Y. from 1957, a collection of New York scenes that he captured with a special kaleidoscopic lens...
Here's Shirley Clarke's Bridges-Go-Round from 1958, featuring a montage of New York's bridges with superimposition. (In 1961, Clarke would film The Connection, with pianist Freddie Redd and alto saxophonist Jackie McLean)...
And here's William Klein's Broadway by Light, from 1958, which gives you a sense of Martin Scorsese's inspiration for the nocturnal Times Square scenes in Taxi Driver...
Bonus: Here are musical selections from Shirley Clarke's The Connection. Clarke died in 1997...
I love jazz because it’s what sounds
I was first exposed to jazz in my
parents household and in school
I appreciate many styles of jazz
and shy away from really outside
stuff. I enjoy relating to the
One of the best shows I ever
attended was 1975 Chick Corea’s
Return To Forever tour at an
intimate venue in downtown
The first jazz record I bought was
Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon.
My advice to new listeners is try
several styles before you decide
what jazz is all about!
Listen to music daily and stay open