Friday, 26 February 2010
Jazz on Film
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image's hugely popular annual offering to Melbourne International Jazz Festival audiences returns with another boutique film season exploring the world of Jazz on Film.
Jazz on Film once again steps inside the world of jazz: the scenes, the sounds and some of the people that have been captured on film from the 1950s to today, looking at the many incarnations of jazz music and offering up a glimpse of its future.
"From future icons to legends of past, with this season of Jazz on Film we wanted to explore the many variations and moods of this ever-evolving art form," says ACMI Film Programmer Spiro Economopoulos.
"With this year's Jazz on Film we really wanted to take a look at where jazz is today. Who are the new vanguards? How has the art form evolved? Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, an Australian Premiere, is a great snapshot of the contemporary keepers of the jazz flame. Also an Australian first is Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a contemporary musical that richly draws on film and musical genres of the past. By trying to understand the future of Jazz, we felt it was important to look back at the past and draw on its rich, international reach. The influence of Black Orpheus on the jazz fraternity is a crucial link, while our Improvs shorts package is a playful look at some seminal jazz on film moments," he says.
The season opens with first time director Damien Chazelle's black and white musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009). Taking cues from both MGM as well as verite-style musicals such as Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the song and dance numbers come as a natural overflow of the lovelorn characters emotions. It stars Jason Palmer as the Guy, one of Down Beat Magazine's top twenty-five "Trumpeters for the Future" and features a score of all-original music composed by Justin Hurwitz and recorded by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
A snapshot of jazz in its current state, Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense (2009) combines rare archival stills, interviews with over 75 jazz artists and live recordings to create a vibrant picture of this ever-evolving art form. Featuring some of the most exciting musicians working today, including Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell and Ravi Coltrane, this spirited documentary explores the exciting dialogue and innovation happening amongst the newer generation of jazz musicians, proving there's plenty of creative juice to take jazz into the next age.
1960 Academy Award Winner and winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus (1959) retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice against the madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Director Marcel Camus ingeniously updates the story that includes an inspired reinvention of the underworld as Rio's Bureau of Missing Persons, and Death as a masked killer in a carnivalesque skeletal costume. With its magnificent colour photography and lively soundtrack, this film introduced American jazz hipsters to bossa nova. It has also been cited as an influence on artists across the US from Jean Michel Basquait to Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.
The compelling documentary The Jazz Baroness (2009) examines the life of British heiress Baroness Pannonica Rothschild (who remarkably had 20 songs dedicated to her by various jazz musicians) and her friendship with the father of modern jazz, Thelonious Monk. Narrated by Helen Mirren, it is directed by Hannah Rothschild, who tries to uncover the real story behind Pannonica's disappearance. Amazing archival footage is fleshed out by terrific interviews with Chico Hamilton, Quincy Jones, and Sonny Rollins, as well as sundry members of the Rothschild family, casting remarkable light on Monk's troubles with drugs and mental problems and the highly privileged yet stifling lives of the British aristocracy.
To close this season ACMI, with the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and OtherFilm, plays host to Improvs or A scatter-shot theory of hip communication, a one-off diabolical cine-happening, a veritable jazz-archaeological treasure trove of swinging celluloid, hepster radiophonics, and interventionist improvisation, all stitched together in a cut-and-paste semi-narrative homage to that scatter-shot theory of hip communication: the wide, weird world known as jazz. This collection of portraits, excerpts, solos and pranks features the likes of Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Shorty Petterstein, The Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra, Elvin Jones, How to Speak Hip, Dizzy Gillespie, John Cassavetes and Don Burrows.
Jazz on Film runs from Saturday 1 May - Satuday 8 May at ACMI.
For more information about the Melbourne International Jazz Festival visit http://www.melbournejazz.com/
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