Sunday, April 10, 2016
A few associates have asked for my take on Don Cheadle’s new Miles Davis movie Miles Ahead. I don’t have one yet. Instead, I’ll direct curious readers to a few Kansas City-related jazz films.
The most essential work is the 1979 documentary The Last of the Blue Devils. The recent surveys Kansas City Jazz & Blues: Past, Present & Future and Kansas City & All That Jazz approach the scene from a more academic perspective.
The depiction of Kansas City’s jazz heyday in Robert Altman’s 1996 film Kansas City is excellent. Sadly but somewhat intriguingly, several portions of the movie set remain in the Jazz District.
Partly because Forest Whitaker is one of my favorite actors, I’m not as down on Clint Eastwood’s maligned Charlie Parker biopic Bird as many commentators.
I may be the world’s only proponent of Pete Kelly’s Blues. The embedded trailer for the forgotten flick set in Kansas City reflects the corny tone, flimsy production values and cultural tone-deafness of the production. I like it anyway.
Jack Webb stars as a trumpeter in the “jazz crazed years when his music beat with the rhythm of the times and his heart beat with a love for all time.” Ella Fitzgerald makes a cameo appearance in the deliciously cheesy movie that’s littered with references to local landmarks and jazz musicians.