The Oxford Dictionary states Jazz as: A type of music of Black American origin, characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. I don’t know a lot about those twenty-five dollar words that were thrown around. The only thing I know — Jazz is cool. If you are all into Jazz documentaries – here are my top five.
JAZZ A FILM BY KEN BURNS
Ken Burns filmed this ten part series, which traces the expansion and development of the street music know as Jazz, taking us through New Orleans, to Louis Armstrong’s own Chicago Southside and many other historical places that influenced the sound. From the hidden bars of Prohibition, to the world-famous Times Square – this six year venture features 75 interviews, 550 pieces of music and a couple thousand archived clips. If you’re a fan of Jazz or not, this documentary with leave you with a taste for the cool.
After 8 years and 200 interview hours, Linda Kuehl filmed the biography of one of the all-time greats – Billie Holiday. We learn about Ms. Holiday through the recently released tapes that were part of Linda Kuehl research, for her unfinished novel. Billie takes you into the life and time of Billie Holiday, through the diverse groups of people – who knew her.
I CALLED HIM MORGAN
Take a deep dive into the life of Lee Morgan, one of Jazz’s most legendary figures through the eyes of his wife – who shot and killed the Jazz great after an unfortunately bout of domestic violence. Get the inside story, on the life of Lee Morgan, by the women who ended it. Spoiler alert!
DEVIL AT THE CROSS ROADS
I know we listing my favorite Jazz documentaries – but there would not be Jazz, without the Blues, and there would be no Jazz without Robert Johnson. He supposedly made a deal with the devil which enabled him to tattoo his mark on the American Musical lexicon. See this famous Jazz icon – through the eyes of his modern day fans, critics and musical predecessors.
THE GIRLS IN THE BAND
Judy Chaikin delivers tales of the women who were instrumental in the Jazz world. They faced many obstacles, discrimination and misogyny during their quest to take part in musical history. Through the film — we are exposed to pioneers such as Lil Hardin Armstrong and Mary Lou Williams, as well as, many other important characters, who have been ignored throughout the Jazz world. Meet the Ladies who – had to face the music – to participate in the art they loved.