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Jazz: Videos

A guide to research materials for the serious jazz scholar as well as books, sound recordings, and videos for the jazz enthusiast.

BioPics

Bird

Clint Eastwood produced and directed this 1988 biopic of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker (played by Forest Whitaker). Eastwood won a Golden Globe Award for Best Director.

Lady Sings the Blues

The story of Billie Holiday, produced by Berry Gordy and starring Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, Isabel Sanford, Ned Glass, and Scatman Crothers.

Round Midnight

This film portrays the 1950s Paris jazz scene through the story of a friendship between jazz saxman "Dale Turner" (played by Dexter Gordon) and "Francis," an artist who idolizes the musician and tries to help him escape alcohol abuse. The story line was inspired by the book Dance of the Infidels, which chronicles the close friendship between author Francis Paudras and jazz pianist Bud Powell. Herbie Hancock received an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the soundtrack.

Miles Ahead

Don Cheadle stars in this fictionalized meeting between Miles Davis and a brash young journalist who is intent on interviewing the angry, reclusive musician. The focus of the film is Davis's failed marriage to Frances Taylor (revealed through vivid and highly emotional flashbacks).

Whiplash

Whiplash is a 2014 independent film by writer/director Damien Chazelle that was inspired by his own experiences in a "very competitive" high school jazz band. The film's central characters are the aspiring jazz drummer "Andrew Neiman" (played by Miles Teller) and the intense and abusive music conservatory jazz teacher "Terrence Fletcher" (played by J.K. Simmons). The music, which is centered around two classic big band tunes ("Whiplash" and "Caravan"), was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (ultimately losing out to Antonio Sanchez's Birdman score). 

Born to Be Blue

Born to Be Blue takes place in the months after trumpeter Chet Baker was badly beaten by drug dealers in 1966. His front teeth were knocked out, and Baker fought to get himself off drugs and learn to adapt to a new embouchure. Actor Ethan Hawke gives a sensitive performance in this 2015 release.

 Young Man With a Horn

Based on the 1938 novel by Dorothy Baker, this story of "Rick Martin" was inspired by the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. The film stars Kirk Douglas as Rick, and the musical soundtrack features Harry James.

The Benny Goodman Story
 

This 1955 classic features Steve Lawrence as Benny Goodman, but includes cameos by Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Ben Pollack, Teddy Wilson, and Kid Ory.

The Gene Krupa Story

Sal Mineo plays Gene Krupa in this 1959 release from Columbia Pictures.

The Glenn Miller Story

James Stewart gives a convincing portrayal in this 1954 theatrical release.

 

 

 

 

Documentaries