Category Archives: Charlie Parker

The Sound of Film to Come (The Guardian)

The Sound of Jazz to Come (Guardian)

Here’s my first piece for The Guardian: a look back on the history of jazz-on-film – the good, the bad and the ugly – pegged to the forthcoming release of two remarkable films about jazz. “Born to be Blue,” with Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker, opens March 25. Don Cheadle’s “Miles Ahead,” about you-know-who, opens April 1.

The article includes a list of my five favorite films about jazz and jazz musicians. The Guardian didn’t have room for my honorable mentions, but here they are:

  • Keep On Keepin’ On (2014) – poignant, inspirational documentary about the great trumpeter Clark Terry and his star pupil, the blind pianist Justin Kauflin;
  • Mo’ Better Blues (1990) – Spike Lee’s serious attempt to portray the lives of modern jazz musicians, with stirring music by the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Terrence Blanchard);
  • Ray (2004) – Taylor Hackford’s conventional but still exhilarating biopic about Ray Charles, with a pull-all-the-stops-out performance by musician/actor Jamie Foxx; and
  • Robert Altman’s Kansas City (1996) – Despite jazz being somewhat peripheral to the rather hackneyed crime story, it includes one of the best sequences of live jazz ever filmed, a cutting contest between Coleman Hawkins (saxophonist Craig Handy) and Ben Webster (saxophonist James Carter).
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bing Crosby, Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Craig Handy, Dexter Gordon, Don Cheadle, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Robert Glasper

Rudresh Mahanthappa – For the Love of ‘Bird’

Talin, the two-year-old son of award-winning alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, is surprisingly aware of his dad’s job. “If he sees me leaving for work,” Mahanthappa said recently over a lunch of pastrami and corned beef, “Talin will say, ‘Daddy working? Saxophone? Toot-toot?’” His DownBeat Critics Poll-winning “Jazz Album of the Year,” Bird Calls, is based on snippets of tunes by Charlie Parker, his major inspiration.  This past weekend, Mahanthappa played his butt off at Newport, as a guest soloist with Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Here’s my profile of him from the August 2015 DownBeat.

Leave a comment

Filed under Charlie Parker, Downbeat, Music Writing and Clips, Rudresh Mahanthappa

Bird Lives! Paquito D’Rivera revives “Charlie Parker w/Strings” at JALC (DownBeat, 4/13)

Alto sax master Paquito D’Rivera resurrects “Charlie Parker w/Strings at Jazz at Lincoln Center. My review in DownBeat: http://ow.ly/kgRhH

Leave a comment

Filed under Charlie Parker, Downbeat, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Music Writing and Clips, Paquito D'Rivera