Year: 1988

 

Terry Carter with Herbie Hancock

Terry Carter with Herbie Hancock

 

Directed by: Terry Carter

Produced by: Terry Carter & Leonard “Skip” Malone

Edited by: Beate Glatved

A Production of: The JazzMasters Partnership

Commissioned by: TV2 (Denmark)

Genre: Documentary

Plot Summary: A series of television portraits of twelve of the world's most outstanding jazz musicians.

In excerpts of extraordinary musical performances interpolated with spontaneous and informal dialogue, twelve well-known musical artists reveal their intimate selves. They tell of experiences which influenced their careers, they recall fascinating anecdotes, they reveal sources of inspiration for their musical development, and they express their opinions on the status of the jazz scene today. Videotaped on location at major European jazz festivals, the JazzMasters series consists of programs that provide the audience with unique insights into these musical personalities:

CHET BAKER: With his velvet voice and his lyrical approach to the trumpet, Chet Baker was one of the most charismatic, talented, and beloved-yet-tragic jazz musicians in history. Here, in a candid interview recorded shortly before his untimely death, Baker discusses his musical aesthetics, his early fame and his turbulent, drug-addicted life. (28 minutes)

KENNY DREW: The late Kenny Drew recalls his early days playing with Charlie Parker on New York's 52nd Street. He tells how he landed in Europe in the 60s and became house pianist at Paris' legendary club, the Blue Note. He describes how fate brought him to Copenhagen, where his trio sparked a jazz explosion. He speaks of how important it was to his career to become his own publisher. (18 minutes)

DEXTER GORDON: A pace setter on the tenor saxophone and a pioneer of be-bop, Gordon recalls his early experiences as a leader in the establishment of the jazz tradition in Scandinavia and gives an actor-musician's inside view of the making of the film "Round Midnight". This program includes never-before-seen performances filmed during the late Dexter Gordon's reign at the Montmartre Jazz Club in Copenhagen in the 1960s. (24 minutes)

JOHNNY GRIFFIN: His phenomenal dexterity on the tenor sax is legendary. Griffin describes growing up in the fertile musical atmosphere of Chicago in the 40s and his present life in provincial France. The program offers rare glimpses of the Johnny Griffin Quartet in performance, including an extended sample of his superb interpretation of Lover Man. (20 minutes)

HERBIE HANCOCK: Oscar- and Grammy-award winner Hancock is noted for his extraordinary talents as both pianist and composer. Hancock expounds on his philosophy and how it has influenced his work and his life. He discusses how he has reconciled his interest in rock with his dedication to classical jazz. His virtuosity is demonstrated in performance, including his spellbinding rendition of Just One Of Those Things. (25 minutes)

BOBBY HUTCHERSON: Master of the vibraphone, Hutcherson speaks warmly about his early fascination with jazz, the rich musical milieu in California in the 40's and his colorful experiences in reaching his current pinnacle of success. In splendid excerpts from concerts with the Round Midnight band, Hutcherson illustrates his exceptional technique and how his life and music are intertwined. (25 minutes)

CARMEN McRAE: One of the truly classic jazz singers, the late Ms. McRae was known for her pure tone, distinct phrasing and uncompromising standards. Here, she speaks about the importance of the lyric in jazz singing, and describes the extraordinary challenges she took on in using her voice as a musical instrument. Among the samples of her work is an excerpt of her heart-warming version of Thelonius Monk's Ruby, My Dear. (23 minutes)

JAMES MOODY: A master of three instruments, the tenor, the alto and the flute, Moody tells how his now standard arrangement of I'm in the Mood for Love - Moody's Mood - was born and became one of the first jazz hits ever to cross over to a new audience. He speaks fondly about his long time close association with Dizzy Gillespie, illustrated here through unique archival performance clips. (25 minutes)

NIELS-HENNING ØRSTED PEDERSEN: At age 16, the late Pedersen was one of the most sought-after bass players in the world of jazz, working with Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon and other jazz greats. Over the years, he toured and recorded extensively with Oscar Peterson. Knighted in 1997 by Queen Margaret of Denmark, Niels-Henning was a solo recording artist on Verve Records. In this intimate portrait, he discusses the changing role of his instrument in jazz and illustrates its potential as a solo instrument through a brilliant performance of one of his own compositions, Samba Petite. (17 minutes)

WAYNE SHORTER: Tenor- and soprano-saxophonist Wayne Shorter is an outstanding and original musical artist who emerged from the 1960's and kept on growing. From his early work with the Miles Davis Quintet through his experiences in forming and performing with the remarkable fusion group, Weather Report, Shorter vividly recalls the panorama of his life in jazz and describes his optimistic vision of the future. (25 minutes)

CLARK TERRY: Known as "the trumpeters' trumpeter", Terry was the first to establish the flugelhorn as a jazz instrument. Terry reflects on his perceptions as an African-American jazz musician touring Europe and expounds on his methods as a jazz educator. Through the use of rare archival performance excerpts, he demonstrates his "circular breathing" technique and his unique approach to his horns and vocals. (24 minutes)

RANDY WESTON: The Village Voice cited Weston as having the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk. In this program, Weston demonstrates that he is also a distinguished composer whose dynamic music deeply reflects an African influence, projecting a strong cultural and social message. (19 minutes)

 

The JazzMasters series has been telecast in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Bulgaria, and France, and was licensed for home video distribution in Japan. It is now available for television and home video licensing worldwide.