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.

One response to “Jazz Movies : “Paris Blues” and “Midnight in Paris”

  1. Yes, caught this accidentally the other night – loved the music and actors and 60’s clothes but as you say, not a lot of plot!!
    Keep up the good work, Jane …
    – jaz
    P.S. The Frillies are performing at Barham – I’ll send you our latest photo next week including our new members, with all the details.

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