The National Jazz Museum in Harlem Presents: Jazz on Film
The Sound of Jazz Dir. Jack Smight, 1957, 60 min. Perhaps the most iconic jazz film ever made, The Sound of Jazz brought together 32 leading musicians from the swing era, including Count Basie, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, Jo Jones, and Coleman Hawkins; the Chicago style players of the same era, such as Henry "Red" Allen, Vic Dickenson, and Pee Wee Russell; and younger "modernist" musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, and Jimmy Giuffre. These players played separately with their compatriots, but also joined to combine various styles in one group, such as Red Allen's group and the group backing Billie Holiday on "Fine and Mellow," one of the most poignant moments of jazz ever caught on film. The song brought back together Lester Young and Holiday; Young's blues solo is transcendent in its painful beauty and sophisticated simplicity.
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