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Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz
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Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz

3.0 1
Director: Julian Benedikt

Cast: Bob Belden, Joachim Ernst Berendt, Art Blakey

 

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Blue Note Records was founded in the 1930s and has played a vital role in the development of jazz for more than 60 years. Important works by some of the greatest jazz musicians in history -- John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and many others -- were recorded on the Blue Note label. The company's founders, Alfred

Overview

Blue Note Records was founded in the 1930s and has played a vital role in the development of jazz for more than 60 years. Important works by some of the greatest jazz musicians in history -- John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and many others -- were recorded on the Blue Note label. The company's founders, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, both loved jazz (especially jazz with a bluesy element) and had true respect for the musicians with whom they worked. Featuring appearances by many artists -- and memorable music recorded in the Blue Note studios throughout the years -- this documentary explores the evolution of the genre, while telling the story of a company that marked an important period in music history. ~ Alice Duncan

Product Details

Release Date:
02/26/2008
UPC:
0880242056788
Original Release:
1997
Rating:
NR
Source:
Euroarts
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[stereo]
Time:
1:31:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bob Belden Participant
Joachim Ernst Berendt Participant
Art Blakey Participant
Ron Carter Participant
John Coltrane Participant
Bob Cranshaw Participant
Lou Donaldson Participant
Dexter Gordon Participant
Lorraine Gordon Participant
Johnny Griffin Participant
Herbie Hancock Participant
Freddie Hubbard Participant
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Participant
J.J. Johnson Participant
Ruth Lion Participant
Taj Mahal Participant
Gil Melle Participant
Brigitte Mira Participant
Thelonious Monk Participant
Francis Paudras Participant
Bud Powell Participant
André Previn Participant
Max Roach Participant
Sonny Rollins Participant
Carlos Santana Participant
Horace Silver Participant
Jimmy Smith Participant
Bertrand Tavernier Participant
Tommy Turrentine Participant
Cassandra Wilson Participant

Technical Credits
Julian Benedikt Director,Screenwriter
Bernd Hellthaler Executive Producer
Ulli Pfau Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz
1. Founding Blue Note Records [8:57]
2. Escaping Pre-War Germany [4:50]
3. Building up the Label [7:33]
4. "It Must Schwing!" [9:48]
5. Jazz Visionaries [6:38]
6. Producing Records [6:47]
7. Sampling Blue Note [5:41]
8. Jazz Photography [6:39]
9. Development Over Decades [8:42]
10. The Characteristic Artwork [3:02]
11. Europe's Recognition of Jazz [8:25]
12. The Black "Sound" [8:16]
13. An Era Ends [1:57]
14. Credits [3:13]

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Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Julian Benedikt’s documentary on the famous Blue Note record label aired as a two-part television special in 1997, it was cause for celebration among jazz fans, albeit tempered with a sense of frustration. The small, independent company, founded by German immigrants Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff in 1939, played a seminal role in the development of jazz from the postwar period through the late 1960s. Lion and Wolff privileged quality over all other considerations, and recorded artists when other labels wouldn’t touch them. (Thelonious Monk is a prime example.) Such an enlightened and progressive corporate attitude would be unthinkable in today’s bottom-line climate. Blue Note had a sound, a style and a look all its own. The label arguably reached its artistic peak in the late-50s to early 60s with its roster of powerhouse hard bop players as Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Art Blakey and dozens of others. If Benedikt had simply focused his camera on the surviving musicians and included generous amounts of archival concert footage, this could have been one of the greatest music documentaries ever. Unfortunately, his film goes off in a number of inexplicable directions that seriously compromise its impact. In a misguided attempt to give the film “relevance,” Benedikt accords an inordinate amount of camera time to the likes of Carlos Santana, Taj Mahal, and DJ Smash. Their perspectives, while sincere, lack the kind of insight that the original artists, many of them happily still alive, could have provided. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianist Horace Silver and bassist Bob Cranshaw are given a fair amount of time to reflect on the creative freedom they experienced as Blue Note artists, but for the most part, Benedikt is content to name check famous musicians like Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley without providing any context. Even more problematic is the matter of concert footage. Benedikt is generally stingy with archival footage of such legends as Dexter Gordon, while indulging in extended performance footage of contemporary musicians Junko Onishi and Cassandra Wilson. Onishi is a nice pianist, but has nothing to do with the classic era. And including Wilson’s smooth jazz pabulum is an insult to the innovative spirit the label represents. Moreover, Benedikt’s kaleidoscopic, MTV-style of editing, while meant to be hip and cutting-edge, just comes across as annoying. Having said all that, I would still recommend this DVD to jazz fans, if only for its historical significance and the chance to see and hear icons like Herbie Hancock and Hubbard reminisce about an era when jazz was about pushing boundaries and enriching the culture. When Benedikt lets the original musicians speak and play for themselves, his film soars. If only he had left it at that.