Category Archives: Craig Handy

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).
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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

Craig Handy – Serious Fun (from DownBeat, March 2014)

Craig Handy

Craig Handy (photo: Vincent Soyez)

Until recently, tenor saxophonist Craig Handy was touring with jazz diva Dee Dee Bridgewater.  “I really grew to love him,” Dee Dee says. “When I’d introduce him, I’d say, ‘This is my Handy-man. Anything I need, he can fix it!’ He was quite a lady’s man—quite a charmer. He was eye candy for women—big, strapping dude. So I had fun playing with him, playing into the fact that he was good-looking, hamming it up. And he really got in on the act.”

Now Handy has returned as a leader with a new album on OKeh Records (Sony) called Craig Handy and Second-Line Smith. Handy describes the project as “the Jimmy Smith Songbook re-imagined as a high-energy blend of a contemporary jazz quintet and second-line brass band. ‚The sound is rooted in tradition and innovation.”  It rocks.  Loved writing this article, which was featured in the March 2014 edition of DownBeat.

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Filed under Craig Handy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Downbeat, Music Writing and Clips