Category Archives: Jazz Movies

Movies with a jazz theme

Clark Terry documentary: Oscar nomination

clark terry

THURSDAY December 18, 2014’s issue of The Melbourne Age had a story by jazz reviewer, Philippa Hawkes, about a documentary film on the great jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry. The film – KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON has been nominated for this year’s Oscar Documentary shortlist. It is directed by Australian drummer, Alan Hicks, who first met Terry 12 years ago in New York and became his student and a member of one of the Terry bands.

Australian jazz musicians and jazz fans of long standing will remember Clark Terry with admiration and affection from his participation in the 1974 Australian Jazz Convention held at Dorset Gardens in Melbourne. I did a long post on Terry when his autobiography came out in 2012. Click on the image below to refresh you memory.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON will be screening at the Nova Theatre in Lygon Street, Carlton from 18 December. Being a documentary it may not hang about for long, so it would be good thinking to take time out from the festive rush to enjoy 86 minutes of jazz legend before it moves on.
Phone 9347 5331 or check online for session times.

Jazz Movies : “Paris Blues” and “Midnight in Paris”

WE lunched last Sunday at the Rosstown Hotel with our next door neighbours, Ilanna and Philip. (The band for the day was Des Camm’s Jazz Band which was in very fine fettle by the way).

Our neighbours happened to mention that they had watched a jazz movie Paris Blues the night before, which prompted us to get the DVD out of the cupboard and take another look.

This confirmed our view that Paris Blues is not the greatest jazz film ever made, with its paper-thin plot about two American jazz musicians in Paris who have to decide whether to struggle on with a life in music, or leave the game and settle down to married domesticity (as if these were the only two options).

With Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier playing the two musicians, Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll as the love interests, and Louis Armstrong playing a cameo role, this should have been a great film… unfortunately it wasn’t.

However there were some big pluses: a wonderful score by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong’s amazing rendition of “Battle Royal”, a very laid back version of “Mood Indigo”, and Christian Matras‘s luminous black and white cinematography. And of course Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier light up any script no matter how pedestrian.

We wondered who played the trombone and saxophone for the two stars, and after some fancy Google-work, here’s the answer:
The Canadian born trombonist Murray McEachern dubbed Paul Newman and the Boston born sax player Paul Gonsalves dubbed Sidney Poitier.

AS a contrast, another jazz movie set in Paris is Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s latest delightful piece of whimsy which has as its opening theme “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere” composed and played by Sidney Bechet. We found it a joy from opening titles to closing credits.

And finally as a total non-sequiter, here are Des Camm’s boys at the Rosstown on Sunday doing a lively New Orleans job on Bourbon Street Parade. This clearly shows how lots of other jazz tunes, (such as “Over the Waves”, “Washington and Lee Swing”, “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey”, “My Little Girl”, “I Wonder Why”, and the final themes of “Tiger Rag” and “The Beer Barrel Polka”!), use the same chord sequence of “Bourbon Street’s” chorus.
The band is Pat Miller, sax; Des Camm, trumpet; Barry Wratten, clarinet; John Cox, banjo; Dave Myers, bass and Richard Opat, drums.