Film Analysis: The Year That Changed Jazz

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Video Documentary Report of “1959 The Year That Changed Jazz”

The documentary narrated by Kerry Shale discusses four major albums released in 1959 that not only pushed jazz to new heights, beauty, and groove but also changed music forever. The albums were Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus, and The Shape of Jazz to Come by Ornette Coleman. The documentary shows rarely seen archive performances, videos of events in U.S. history, and interviews with Dave Brubeck; Ornette Coleman; Charlie Haden, Coleman’s bassist; Herbie Hancock, pianist/ keyboarder later in Miles’ band; Joe Morello, Brubeck’s drummer; Jimmy Cobb, drummer for Miles; Ashley Kahn, Author of The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece; George Avakian, producer/executive at Columbia Records; Sue Mingus, Charles’ wife; Lorraine Gordon, Village Vanguard Jazz Club; Nat Hentoff, writer; Hal Willner and Lou Reed, hosts of New York Shuffle Radio Show. The documentary proclaims that this new Jazz reached the white
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This Los Angeles based improvisor played what he was feeling, not what was written. Ornette was not concerned with “cards mounted against the keys” (sheet music); instead, his only concern was the sound. He stated that only twelve notes were satisfying the world, but he created much more with his free jazz. Hal Willner and Lou Reed explain how “Lonely Woman” was different from previous jazz; it was not just one solo after another; instead, everyone was playing together, a real composition. When Ornette came to New York and played at the “The 5 Spot;” his free jazz influenced others and changed the style, the music, and the time signature; however, some critics thought his music was too random and chaotic. Ornette believed music should be the sound of your emotions, beliefs, abilities, and your love, not