Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
a perfect companion dvd to "One Night w/Blue Note"...
on March 22, 2010
...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".