Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jazz Goes to the Movies in Ankara

Jazz Goes to the Movies, a programme curated by Jonathan Rosenbaum and I for Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato will be playing in Ankara and two other Turkish cities from next week.

Another jazz/film-related event would be an exhibitions of the comic illustrations about jazz films by me (as writer) and Naiel Ibarrola (as illustrator). After our first exhibition at Tehran's Aun Gallery, the Allye Berger exhibition hall in Ankara will host our work from November 26 to December 2, 2015.

Back to the screenings, the films that will be played on November 29, are free admission. These are the titles and their order of screening, starting from 14:15

Black and Tan Fantasy (1929)
Cab Calloway’s hi-de-ho (1934)
Jammin’ the Blues (1944)
Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)
Begone Dull Care (1949)
Big Ben: Ben Webster in Europe (1967)
When It Rains (1995)
Too Late Blues (1961)

Each film will be introduced either by me or Jonathan.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Best Of American Jazz In Paris (Studio Recordings)

Image courtesy of Vogue Records.

25 Greatest Jazz Records by Americans in Paris
For the people of Paris. November 2015

The Infinity of Lists, by Umberto Eco, is among the titles on my to-read list, though even before opening the book, and judging from the cover, I can catch the point and apply it to this list of my favorite studio recording of American jazz musicians in Paris.

The relationship between Paris and musicians has been mostly a love affair, started from the early years of jazz and continued to this day, with the post war years as the peak of interest, visits and involvement in Parisian scene. The curiosity about jazz, similar to that of African artwork revival in the early 20th century Paris, was expanding in various directions in the years between early 1950s and late 1960s. Jazz appeared in or influenced French literature and cinema, while I'm sure, the connection between this American art and France goes beyond these two primary examples.

With a profound history of hosting American jazz musicians and giving them the opportunity to play and record, the Paris-recorded albums are too important to remain unlisted and unnoticed. This is one attempt to pay a closer attention to the Parisian jazz records.

These are recordings I have listened to and mostly loved during the years, but I'm sure there are still hundreds of recordings there, waiting to be discovered. Probably you will notice the absence of more contemporary albums on the list, but that can be explained in regard to the current international status of jazz and the blurred concepts of nationality and borders in the 21th century jazz scene. Now, appearing in a Parisian studio or a concert hall is a common stage of activity for any internationally recognized artist. But I guess, back in the 1950s, it must have been a very unique experience being and recording in Paris for someone like Gerald Wiggins. This uniqueness is derived, among many other things, from the status of Afro-Americans in France and the fact that they have been cherished as artists and seen as heroes of the Existentialist and Anti-colonial movements of the post war period.

This list was initiated as a part of my short-lived jazz program, targeted for Iranian listeners, which ran between 2011 and early 2012. The episodes 22 to 24 were titled Jazz In Paris, and during three sessions I played many tracks from the albums I've listed here. If some Farsi speaking and commentary in between the tracks don't bother you, they are available here, here and here as podcast.