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Jazz: Currently Spinning

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1 hour ago, Dilettanteque said:

Phil Slater - The Dark Pattern

Image result for Phil Slater - The Dark Pattern

 

I love this guy's sound world.

Superb! Slater & crew are world class. Great SQ too.

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8 hours ago, mikey d said:

Superb! Slater & crew are world class. Great SQ too.

Oh yes...Matt McMahon and Simon Barker are have an amazing sense of restrained colour and poise

Edited by Dilettanteque

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Have been listening to mono and stereo, mono is my choice...20190928_151805.jpeg

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Guest Misterioso

Three documentaries about Blue Note Records

  1. Blue Note - A Story of Modern Jazz (written and directed by Julian Benedikt, 1996)
  2. It Must Schwing - The Blue Note Story (written and directed by Eric Friedler, 2018)
  3. Blue Note Records - Beyond the Notes (written and directed by Sophie Huber, 2018)

Music_20190929_0007.jpg.50a5b54541f368fc68c4f209ddba2df8.jpg

 

Over the past few weeks I watched these three documentaries about Blue Note (BN) Records. It is not really surprising that the story of BN has attracted the interest of many film directors because it is simply one of the best stories in music history. The story of the two German Jewish refugees, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who founded BN and - as complete outsiders - became the voice of the coolest (bebop) cats in town. As everyone knows here, every BN record is a perfect combination of music, recording technique (by Rudy van Gelder), and cover art (by Reid Miles, using the amazing photographs Francis Wolff shot during the recording sessions).

 

For anyone unfamiliar with the great BN story, here is a nice introduction.

 

I nevertheless found it surprising that two documentaries about BN were recently released within weeks of each other. I bought both of them and compared them to the acclaimed 1996 documentary. Here are some of my observations:

  • Interestingly, all three directors mostly have a European background (although Friedler was born in Sydney). Have Americans still not realized what cultural treasure they have in BN?
  • Given the lack of original historical material about Lion and Wolff, the three directors follow different strategies to tell the story about the early BN days. Benedikt uses narration, Friedler animation and Huber short paragraphs on the screen, which the viewer needs to read herself. I absolutely hated the animations in the Friedler movie! They look cheap and are not necessary. I have enough imagination to visualize these early events myself and don't need such explicit help.
  • Benedikt and Friedler focus much more on the two founders and their private lives. We get to know the wifes of Alfred etc. Huber talks much less about the founders. Benedikt and Friedler tell the BN story until Francis Wolff's early death in 1971 a few years after Alfred Lion sold the label (1965). Huber continues the story until today. She introduces and interviews Alfred's successors at BN, Bruce Lundvall and Don Was.
  • Huber singles out more musicians and influential records on BN than Benedikt and Friedler. For example, if I remember correctly, the name Coltrane was not even mentioned in Friedler (although some music was played from Blue Train), while Blue Train gets lots of attention in Huber. She also mentions and interviews more recent BN stars such as Robert Glasper and yes, Norah Jones. The last part of the Huber film talks a lot about connections between jazz and hip hop (from US3 to Kendrick Lamar etc.).
  • There is a naturally a huge overlap in the musicians interviewed for these documentaries.

I certainly enjoyed all three documentaries. I hated the animations in Friedler but bought an early Bechet recording of Summertime because of his documentary (this first BN hit single is mentioned in all three movies). If you are already familiar with the story of the founders, the Huber documentary might be the most interesting. Otherwise, I would recommend the Benedikt movie for a start. Enjoy.

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