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Ken Dryden

Jazz In Film - Jazz Soundtracks And/Or Appearances On Camera By Jazz Artists

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Posted (edited)

I know there have been books about jazz in film, but I thought it would be fun to discuss favorite jazz soundtracks and appearances by artists performing in films.

Appearances (cameos to fuller shots):

The Fabulous Dorseys: Art Tatum in two segments, with dialogue in the foreground over his music.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro: A brief appearance of Benny Carter playing alto saxophone in a night club scene.

Anatomy of a Murder: Duke Ellington composed and performed the soundtrack and appears on camera as a musician named Pie-Eye.

Terminal 1: Tom Hanks plays a character trying to complete his father's quest of getting the autographs of all of the musicians who appeared in the Great Day in Harlem photo. Benny Golson appears on camera, has a bit of dialogue and plays on camera.

King of the Gypsies: David Grisman wrote and played the music for this film, though no soundtrack album was ever released. Stephane Grappelli is part of the band.

Soundtracks:

Anatomy of a Murder: Duke Ellington composed and performed the soundtrack with his band.

Paris Blues: More music by Duke Ellington written for film. Issued on LP.

The Silent Partner: Oscar Peterson composed and arranged the music for this Canadian film, issued by Pablo on LP. The film was released as a full screen DVD, starring Christopher Plummer and Elliot Gould. The allstar group includes Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, Benny Carter and Zoot Sims.

I Want To Live! The terrific soundtrack by Johnny Mandel, played by a strong group including Gerry Mulligan.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the remake): Denny Zeitlin leads a small group and plays electronic music that he composed for the film. He gets a kick out of introducing his ballad "Love Theme 'From Invasion of the Bodysnatchers'" when he plays a club. The CD reissue is challenging to find at a reasonable price.

Scott Joplin: This bio film features performances and arrangements by Dick Hyman. A highlight is the duo piano cutting contest played by Dick Hyman and Hank Jones. Eubie Blake has a brief cameo as the judge booting pianists from the contest. Issued on LP by MCA.

Ordeal By Innocence: Donald Sutherland stars in this Canadian film, adapted from an Agatha Christie mystery. Dave Brubeck composed and played music for the film, using his quartet with Bill Smith. Sadly, no soundtrack was released.

 

 

Edited by Ken Dryden

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Posted (edited)

“Les Stances a Sophie” sports a soundtrack and on screen performance by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Though not musically involved, Muhal Richard Abrams and John Jackson have bit parts in Haskell Wexler’s “Medium Cool”.

Edited by Chuck Nessa
typo

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Ms. O'Day's performance here was easily the best thing in this forgettable flick --

 

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Obviously, Dexter in "Round Midnight".

Archie Shepp in "Choose Me".

IIRC Laurindo Almeida  unbilled in A Star is Born.

Coleman Hawkins in The Crimson Canary.

Duke Ellington and band in Check and Double Check. 

Gerry Mulligan in I Want to Live and The Subterraneans. (along with Pops). 

Chico Hamilton in The Sweet Smell of Success.

Shelly Mann in The Mann with the Golden Arm.  

etc. There are books on this subject. 

 

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John Lewis' scores for "Odds Against Tomorrow" and "No Sun in Venice"

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Not film, but ya can't go wrong with Cannonball and Kung Fu!

 

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15 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

John Lewis' scores for "Odds Against Tomorrow" and "No Sun in Venice"

Odds Against Tomorrwo is the film I thought was a turkey, though the soundtrack was great.

I haven't seen "No Sun In Venice."

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Someone once wrote in a Jazz Review magazine review of "Odds Against Tomorrow" that its apparent moral was "race prejudice prevents bank robberies."

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Red Norvo and his trio featuring the great Jimmy Wyble on guitar made an appearance in "Screaming Mimi"(1958).

Unfortunately Tal Farlow had left the group by then. There's only one appearance by Tal (dressed as an Indian!) in any movie or visual medium in the 50s. In the movie he just strums rhythm. I'd pay anything for the 1955 short the Norvo Trio made called "Play it Cool".

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Miles Davis shows up briefly in Scrooged and has a bigger part in Dingo.  IIRC He also appeared in an episode of Miami Vice in which Leonrad Cohen also showed up. 

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Ken Dryden said:

Odds Against Tomorrwo is the film I thought was a turkey, though the soundtrack was great.

I haven't seen "No Sun In Venice."

Harry Belafonte plays a mean vibes solo in that lousy flick in a club scene.Jim Hall has a nice bluesy solo in one part of the film soundtrack.

6 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

John Lewis' scores for "Odds Against Tomorrow" and "No Sun in Venice"

 

Edited by sgcim

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Manfred Mann did their best to play jazz for the soundtrack of Up the Junction.

I enjoy it for what it is, but cannot recommend it for someone truly seeking jazz.

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3 hours ago, sgcim said:

Harry Belafonte plays a mean vibes solo in that lousy flick in a club scene.Jim Hall has a nice bluesy solo in one part of the film soundtrack.

I have the soundtrack record for No Sun in Venice, and Rene Thomas plays a lot of solos on it.

Rene Thomas is on No Sun In Venice? I thought it was the MJQ.

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2 hours ago, bertrand said:

Rene Thomas is on No Sun In Venice? I thought it was the MJQ.

Shit, I got it confused with A Milanese Story, which John Lewis also wrote the music for...

3 hours ago, GA Russell said:

Manfred Mann did their best to play jazz for the soundtrack of Up the Junction.

I enjoy it for what it is, but cannot recommend it for someone truly seeking jazz.

Manfred Mann also did his version of jazz for "Venus in Furs",(1969), and he and his band at the time appeared in a club scene.with the director, the evil Jess Franco playing piano in the group. James Darren starred as a jazz trumpet player who finds the corpse of a woman on a beach. The woman comes back to life, and takes revenge on her enemies.

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Posted (edited)

"Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud" ("Elevator to the Gallows"), Louis Malle 1958 (score and performance by Miles Davis with Barney Wilen, René Urtreger, Pierre Michelot et Kenny Carke). Taking the film as a whole, this is one of my all-time favorites.
Milking the (perceived) jazz atmosphere for the plot of the movie, not always so. ("Pete Kelly's Blues", anyone? ;))

As for "Paris Blues" mentioned in the opening post, take in what Jean-Louis Ginibre wrote in the June, 1962 issue of (French) JAZZ MAGAZINE:

"Paris Blues": One title, two words. Two words that give away the intentions of the makers of this movie: leading us into the field of a double exoticism: An exoticism that, for the American moviegoer,  is represented by Paris on the one hand and by the world of jazz on the other. 
The Paris of Martin Ritt is deplorably in line with the cinematographic traditions cross the Atlantic: The Seine waterfronts, Saint-German-des-Prés, Champs Elysées. As for the world of jazz drawn up here, it no doubt matches how the average farmer from Albuquerque (New Mexico) imagines it to be. And do note in passing that although drug addiction is present in this jazzish microcosm, it is a French musician who shoots. The Americans, of course, are perfectly clean and straight. Thanks for nothing, Martin.
The two-fold idyll that makes up the center of gravity of the plot of course respects the American traditions too: Black Diahann Carroll is in love with Black Sidney Poitier and White Jeanne Woodward is in love with White Paul Newman. Oh well ... You'd never get to finish if you started to point out all the cliché-ridden details haunt this flick that the cinematographic press has been relatively indulgent with: "Warmth and simplicity have for once produced a film that merits more than just an estimable appreciation", wrote Patrick Bureau in Cinema 62, and went on to judge the music like this:" Composed on a rhythm of slow blues, the feline music of Duke Ellington immerses the rooftops and cellar bars of Paris in a halo of sounds. Not to forget strong moments: the happy jam session with Louis Armstrong". Do I really have to point out that I have not exactly been touched by the "slow blues" and the "felinity" of the music of Ellington? We did get the message, but, just like me, the discerning lover of the Duke can only be left disappointed."

 

Maybe not the worst thing to ponder on occasion - the European point of view vs preconceived notions of the US film industry. It's been a long time since I saw that movie (I still have the video cassette somewhere but somehow, contrary to Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud, have not felt the need to revisit it for many years), but I do remember taking in the club scenes with actual jazz musicians as a sort of "cameo" appearances, but the overall score somehow did not register with me. And I found Paul Newmn very much out of place. Maybe because Paul Newman somehow always is Paul Newman. Too well-known in other movie contexts for the viewer to perceive him credibly in such a specific context that the viewer takes more than a passing interest in.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Sven Klang's Combo was often said to have been the finest jazz-inspired film. I was very impressed when I saw it years ago. IIRC it was a tragedy based on the life of Lars Gullin.

https://bampfa.org/event/sven-klangs-combo-sven-klangs-kvintett-plus-jazz-dance

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075293/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Klang's_Combo

 

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, BillF said:

Sven Klang's Combo was often said to have been the finest jazz-inspired film. I was very impressed when I saw it years ago. IIRC it was a tragedy based on the life of Lars Gullin.

https://bampfa.org/event/sven-klangs-combo-sven-klangs-kvintett-plus-jazz-dance

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075293/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Klang's_Combo

 

I remember the BBC showing ‘Sven Klang’s Combo’ just the once, as part of one of their all-too-rare jazz seasons. 

Tubby Hayes, Jimmy Deuchar and Alan Ganley featured in Amicus Film’s horror compendium ‘Dr Terror’s House of Horrors’, which has been broadcast here again recently. Roy ‘Record Breakers’ Castle on trumpet.

KhxvRs3wtiQDpD-FkFNxcF2JlcyMvFESt2V4XAYC

Edited by sidewinder

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Louis comes down to Earth from the sky and lights up the joint for everybody waaaaay more than they could ever have lit it up without him.

Sounds like reality to me.

 

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Posted (edited)

Pony Poindexter appears in a scene from a German B-movie about the life of a groupie. He often performed in that club in Berlin, Manfred Burzlaff is the pianist. It was filmed in 1970. AFAIK.

 

Edited by mikeweil

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I think that's Buddy Collette in there?

 

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On Criterion Channel, there this neat little selection of vintage jazz "minimusicals":

 

c0fd4407-d5c1-4cbf-9921-f8e785afcf2d-9a0

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On 3/6/2021 at 5:09 AM, BillF said:

Sven Klang's Combo was often said to have been the finest jazz-inspired film. I was very impressed when I saw it years ago. IIRC it was a tragedy based on the life of Lars Gullin.

https://bampfa.org/event/sven-klangs-combo-sven-klangs-kvintett-plus-jazz-dance

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075293/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Klang's_Combo

 

I saw Sven Klang's Combo in a theater in the UK some 50 years ago and agree about it being the "finest jazz-inspired film".

 

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