International Jazz Day


Last year I made a post for Jazz Appreciation Month that held a few great, relatively unknown Jazz albums that I thought needed to be brought out from behind their proverbial bushel.  This year, I wanted to celebrate International Jazz Day, which is April 30th by the way, by offering some great documentaries on Jazz that we have through our streaming services here at BU. Click past the break for more! 


Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns Series



Runtime:  10 part series – each 110 minutes

A study and celebration of America’s greatest original art form, Ken Burns’s ten-part documentary series opens at the dawn of the 20th century and crosses the decades with the exuberance and expressive power of jazz itself. Each episode sheds light on cultural and historical milestones as it introduces viewers to the unforgettable names and accomplishments of the music. From the cradle of New Orleans to the crucibles of Chicago and New York City… from the Harlem Renaissance to the Great Depression to World War II and beyond… Jazz paints an astonishing portrait of a nation and the sound that both captured and set free its spirit. This is one of the quintessential documentaries on Jazz music.

-Taken from the video description.



Jazz Heroes: Monk, Ella, and Dizzy

Thelonious Monk


Runtime: 3 part series – each 25 minutes

This intriguing series celebrates the music of three jazz greats whose life stories form a vivid account of musical trends in the postwar modern jazz era. Their legacy embraces the dissonant elegance of pianist Thelonious Monk, the warm vocal dexterity and captivating optimism of Ella Fitzgerald, and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s deft combination of showbiz and radical musicianship.

-Taken from the video description.



Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life



Runtime:  122 minutes

Taking the best from La Vie En Rose and Amelie renowned comic book artist Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a completely original take on one of France’s greatest mavericks, the illustrious and infamous Jewish singer-songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino).

Born Lucien Ginsburg to Russian-Jewish parents, Sfar follows him from his precocious childhood in Nazi-occupied Paris, to his beginnings as small time jazz musician and finally pop superstar. Along the way he romances many of the era’s most beautiful women, including Juliette Greco (Anna Mouglalis), Brigitte Bardot (Laetitia Casta) and Jane Birkin (Lucy Gordon). Employing a witty surrealistic style and a soundtrack that includes many of the musician’s greatest hits, Gainsbourg: A Heroic LIfe is a quintessential time capsule to 1960’s Paris.

– Taken from the video description.



Imagine the Sound – Jazz in the 60’s



Runtime: 92 minutes

Imagine the Sound brings together interviews and performances with the prime innovators of the once controversial free jazz movement of the 60s. The first feature documentary by Ron Mann (Grass, Comicbook Confidential) is an eloquent tribute to a group of highly celebrated artists that helped forge the avant-garde jazz of the 1960s.

Critic and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum has said Imagine the Sound “may be the best documentary on free jazz that we have.” The film features articulate interviews and dramatic performances by pianists Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley, tenor saxophone Archie Shepp, and trumpet player Bill Dixon.

Notes on the Restoration: Imagine the Sound was digitally restored from its original 1981 release format in 16mm, mono (optical) sound to HD (High Defi nition), 5.1 stereo. A brand new low con print was struck from the original 16mm negative, for a widescreen HD transfer on a Spirit DataCine; the sound was entirely remixed on ProTools from the original 35mm stereo recorded master and 16mm magnetic dialogue tracks.

-Taken from the video description.



What is a great jazz documentary or film that you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments below!

Title image, “Jazz”, is copyright ©2008 by Paul Loubet and is made available under a Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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