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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect companion dvd to "One Night w/Blue Note"...
...particularly as this film shows tantalizing clips from the '85 event. Great to finally have this classic on dvd. This 1997 documentary covers all the bases - the background and perspective of Blue Note's founder, Alfred Lion, the recording session atmosphere, the enthusiasm and dedication of the musicians, Francis Wolff's photographs, Reid Miles' covers and Rudy Van...
Published on March 22, 2010 by C. Rotolo

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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but Essential
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...
Published on April 5, 2008 by Dean R. Brierly


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but Essential, April 5, 2008
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect companion dvd to "One Night w/Blue Note"..., March 22, 2010
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
...particularly as this film shows tantalizing clips from the '85 event. Great to finally have this classic on dvd. This 1997 documentary covers all the bases - the background and perspective of Blue Note's founder, Alfred Lion, the recording session atmosphere, the enthusiasm and dedication of the musicians, Francis Wolff's photographs, Reid Miles' covers and Rudy Van Gelder's sound. If you own or have seen the Burns series, this film fills in some of the gaps and corrects some of the misconceptions perpetrated by that series' final few episodes, and it does so without all the cloying narration. Director Julian Benedikt does a masterful job of editing and sequencing the various segments to provide an 'improvisational' balance between interviews and performance footage and between coverage of the label's heyday and its contemporary influence. The performance footage for the most part is electrifying, including period clips of Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk, the aforementioned Town Hall concert of '85 (showcasing Freddie Hubbard's virtuosity), and contemporary performers like Junko Onishi. The best of these is a b&w clip of a Sonny Rollins intro that is just mesmerizing! (The worst, and only hiccup, is a clip of Cassandra Wilson performing a dull "smooth jazz" arrangement.) The interviews are in a variety of settings and include Blue Note legends Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and Gil Melle, studio session players Bob Cranshaw and Tommy Turrentine, and recording executive Michael Cuscuna. Alfred Lion's first wife Lorraine Gordon gets interviewed as she takes reservations at the Village Vanguard. Several of Lion & Wolff's European colleagues and contemporaries offer the overseas perspective on the reception of jazz as high art. The soundtrack mix is well-crafted and indicative of the range of the label's music with selections from artists well known to Blue Note fans like Joe Henderson, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and Grachan Moncur. The film concludes on a poignant note with the now-deceased Andrew Hill signing out a sound studio to practice his art. This film ranks alongside the Monk documentary "Straight, No Chaser".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz, April 28, 2014
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
The Blue Story is one for the ages. It confirmed in living color what a treasure America's original, and sole art form is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You won't feel blue after watching it !, December 19, 2013
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
If you're not one of those human beings who get mysteriously religious when discussing Blue Note Records this Doc won't impress you. Fortunately for me I am one of those human beings and this Doc impressed me a lot. What you get here is vantage point of view into the Blue Note mystique by some of the folks who helped make it happen. Entertaining and informative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars it's a very good story !!, May 23, 2013
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
For everyone who love Jazz, being musician or not ; Good pictures, great musicians playing together,
remarcable, Thanks Blue Note. JCP
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3.0 out of 5 stars disorganized, March 16, 2013
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
Interesting but there is no clear timeline and one wonders why on earth people talking on screen are not identified on their first appearance but much later on,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 12, 2015
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
A must see for Jazz fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, December 28, 2014
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
GOOD VALUE
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Who's Who of Jazz Icons, December 31, 2013
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This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
Blue Note, along with Atlantic, during this period put out some of the best jazz by both veteran players and up and comers. Many of the Blue Note acts would go on to make their imprint into the world of jazz. What is most important about this label was the fact that the company was started by two guys from Europe (Their origins escape me at this time) and if you know anything about jazz you will understand that Europe embraced the music way more then it was embraced here in America. The video talks about the origins of the owners of the label and runs through some of the greatest jazz musicians that we have ever heard. Jazz enthusiast will be happy with this video.
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11 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars History, not music!, May 9, 2008
This review is from: Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz (DVD)
I made the mistake, from looking at the list of participating musicians, of thinking that this album consists of musical performances from the Blue Note collection. Not! The musicians are mostly talking [repeat, talking] about the founders of the Blue Note label--fine folks, I'm sure, but not what I was interested in.
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Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz
Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz by Blue Note: Story of Modern Jazz (DVD - 2008)
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