Monday, March 2, 2009

DVDs of Note

'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris (Outsider Pictures/Naxos of America)
Filmmaker Raymond De Felitta’s documentary is built around the plunge into obscurity that became singer Jackie Paris’s fate after a promising career start that was in full blossom in the late 1940s and early 1950s. (It garnered him Downbeat’s best new male vocalist honors in 1953.) The hook here is De Felitta’s rediscovery of Paris just as the singer was making a comeback appearance at the Jazz Standard in New York City in March 2004. From his interviews with and performance footage of Paris, and interviews with relatives and a long series of jazz luminaries turn this into a story of career ups and downs, artistic frustrations and tragedies and perseverance. This gem could be a parable for other superb artists who for one reason or another never quite grasp or hang onto the brass ring despite their immense talent. This is a March 31 release.

Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (Acorn Media)
This is a DVD update of the original 1986 documentary about Rollins that is enhanced with new reflections on the project by filmmaker Robert Mugge. Many highlights come from an outdoor concert at Opus 40, a rock quarry converted into a performance space in Saugerties, N.Y., where Rollins’ performance on “G Man” is a tour de force for his solo skills. At one point in the concert, he jumps off the stage with the intent of playing in the crowd. He broke his heel upon landing, unbeknownst to his band or the audience, but lay on his back and continued to play. The DVD also features interviews with and about Rollins, and a world premiere concert with a Japanese symphony in Tokyo. This is essential for any jazz DVD collection, unless you already have the VHS version.

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