The greatest jazz documentary ever?
This is not a “clickbait” statement.
I think the case be made that this single documentary accomplishes more than any other jazz documentary I’ve seen- and I’ve seen more than a few.
#1 – It features an artist who we would all do well to understand better – Dizzy Gillespie.
When you talk about the things that really rocked the music post war – Bebop and Afro-Caribbean elements – Dizzy was a prime mover in both.
#2 – It covers Big Band *and* Bebop and shows the massive historical shift that took place after the war. Dizzy happened to be on both sides of that transition and was a super Big Band leader, something many overlook.
#3 – It captures what a major, world-changing revolution Bebop was when it appeared
#4 – It shows some of Dizzy’s work with Afro-Caribbean music. Remember, his “Manteca” with Chano Pozo is what opened the floodgates on that.
It’s not the WHOLE history of the music, but when you cover Dizzy well – which this film does beautifully – you cover a a big swath of the story.
To Bop or Not to Be: A Jazz Life, by Norwegian director Jan Horne. Recorded – 1990.
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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