Monday, April 29, 2013

Duke Ellington: Jazz Entre Amigos (1985)

Continuing with our Duke Ellington's 114th birthday celebration, here you can watch probably the most ambitious TV programme ever made about Ellington. Interestingly, this unmissable compilation of many great films of Duke is coming from Spain. (But the Spanish voice-over is not too loquacious to lessen the viewing pleasure, except when they dub Duke!)

This two-part portrait of Duke during six decades of non-stop genuine creativity is from Jazz Entre Amigos, a weekly TV programme on Spanish national television, presented by Juan Claudio Cifuentes (known to his friends as Cifu) which ran between 1984 to 1991. The Ellington entry is particularly ambitious because it's 130-minute long, and features many well-known clips (Black & Tan and other Hollywood appearances), as well as more rare and hard to find footage and backstage films from the 1960s.

Enjoy the last hours of  this 114th birth day with the images of his highness in action:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ad-Lib#4: Hepcats, Slums, Moon Maidens


"New Orleans jazz may be considered 'mouldy fig' by the diggers of bop, but when it comes to setting a joint jumping, Dixie is still king," reads this funny piece of journalism from the 1950s, furnished with pictures of Willie "The Lion" Smith and Henry "Red" Allen. [source]


Ignore the silly cartoons, inserted into the footage and enjoy this highly energetic performance of a Slums and Wheels [aka Slums on Wheels] written by Volker Kriegel and featuring Dave Pike on vibraphone. Resurfaced from German archives (NDR studios), this 1969 TV appearance features Volker Kriegel (g) Dave Pike (vibe), Ingfried Hoffmann (organ), Hans Rettenbacher (bass) and Peter Baumeister (drums).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

22 Trumpet Players!

click on the image to enlarge
Looks like a dream, but it really happened in the summer of 1961 in Central Park, New York. For this photo session, twenty-two trumpet players from different generations have appeared in front of Herb Snitzer's camera.

From back left to right, the trumpet players are: Johnny Letman, Doc Severinsen, Max Kamisnky, Ted Curson (standing), moving to the next row, Ernie Royal is looking at the left, Booker Little, Joe Thomas, Yank Lawson is sitting next to Clark Terry behind the table. Again, starting from left, Don Ferrera, Nick Travis (with glasses), Bobby Bradford, and on the far right Jimmy Nottingham (sitting near CT). The next row: the very dark gentleman gazing at some out-of-frame point is Herman Autrey. Then moving to right we have Joe Newman, Dizzy Reece, Freddie Hubbard and Henry "Red" Allen, all sitting  tight next to each other. And finally the front row giants are Buck Clayton, Roy Eldridge fooling with Dizzy Gillespie and the beautiful Charlie Shavers.

share on Facebook

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dizzy Gillespie '65 by Les Blank

Les Blank, a fascinating individual and director of some remarkably personal documentaries passed away yesterday. I hardly have anything to say about him, at least worthy of his long and adventurous career, since I knew his ouvre only sporadically. However, I hope the stream of obituaries following his death would serve the purpose of shedding light on the career of  the man "whose sly, sensuous and lyrical documentaries about regional music and a host of other idiosyncratic subjects, including Mardi Gras, gaptoothed women, garlic and the filmmaker Werner Herzog, were widely admired by critics and other filmmakers if not widely known by moviegoers."

Here, I'll draw your attention to one of Blank's very early films, which happens to be one of the best jazz films produced under the umbrella of independent, ciné-vérité movement of the 1960s. Les Blank made many films about music, including The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins (1968), of course if one doesn't mention incorporating jazz and blues music in his non-musical films. During five tireless decades of film-making, the portrait of Dizzy Gillespie stands out as probably one of Blank's most accomplished cinematographic discovery of music and musical ideas.