Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jazz for the eyes: Round Midnight and Ballard Jazz Festival 2009

One of the recommendations from Mr. Origin Records (and for learning about this musical genre was to watch some movies. I already mentioned Straight, No Chaser, and this week the library line finally coughed-up the other title suggested: 'Round Midnight, from 1986 (not the same as 'Round Midnight, 2005)

This movie is total fiction as opposed to documentary, but it captures the essence of the post-war scene of bebop jazz in France versus New York, led by Americans. This movie shuffles along at a slower pace, and like the aging alcoholic musician it portrays, forgets itself in some places but is brilliant in others. Luckily, a good portion of the film is spent on the music scenes, which (among many, many other awards nominated or bestowed) won Herbie Hancock an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score. Real life tenor saxophonist, Dexter Gordon, plays the lead in this film, and does a credible job, given that parts of the character's life are parallel to his own.

I can't help but wonder if my reaction to the pacing of this film is due to the fact that I have been conditioned over time to inhale media quickly and expect a tight, zippy plot and to have everything revealed and dealt with in short order.

Maybe jazz is all about shrugging off that pace and hitting the pause button.

Anyone local who is interested in pressing that pause button should indulge in the offerings from the Ballard Jazz Festival here in Seattle this week.

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