In a city high school, a jazz combo needs a trumpet player. Randy is the natural choice since he is the most talented, but the music teacher favours Bruce, a black student. What should come first? The band? The opportunity it affords to Bruce? The teacher's pleasure? These are questions for the audience to decide.
Shot in 1987 at the Montréal International Jazz Festival, this documentary film presents musical performances and conversations between three jazz pianists with remarkably different styles--Soviet Leonid Chizhik, Black Montrealer Oliver Jones, and French-Canadian Jean Beaudet. It introduces viewers to the diversity of interpretation within today's jazz world, explores the roots of modern jazz and the specific formative influences on the musicians profiled, and reaches for a definition of twentieth-century jazz.
This short documentary profiles the mid-century Toronto jazz scene through the eyes of acclaimed filmmaker Don Owen (Nobody Waved Good-bye). The film features prominent acts from what was then regarded as the third-largest jazz centre in North America, including the Lenny Breau trio, the Don Thompson Quintet and the Alf Jones Quartet. Jazz lovers will relish this inside look at the creativity, hard work, improvisation, and stylization of these talented musicians.
This feature documentary uses music to reveal the many faces of jazz, New Orleans style. Colourful and alive with music, the film captures the street life and traditions of this vibrant city and explores the roots of the music that springs from the soul of the African-American community.
Show Girls celebrates Montreal's swinging Black jazz scene from the 1920s to the 1960s, when the city was wide open. Three women who danced in the legendary Black clubs of the day - Rockhead's Paradise, The Terminal, Café St. Michel - share their unforgettable memories of life at the centre of one of the world's hottest jazz spots. From the Roaring Twenties, through the Second World War and on into the golden era of clubs in the fifties and sixities, Show Girls chronicles the lives of Bernice, Tina and Olga - mixing their memories with rarely seen footage of the era. Their stories are told against a backdrop of the fascinating social and political history that made Montreal a jazz and nightclub hotspot for decades. It is a story of song and dance, music and pride.
In this extraordinary short animation, Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren painted colours, shapes, and transformations directly on to their filmstrip. The result is a vivid interpretation, in fluid lines and colour, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio.
This feature documentary offers a glimpse of contemporary Cuba’s rich musical culture through the experiences of renowned Canadian soprano sax player and flautist Jane Bunnett. Jane and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, are surrounded by the charm of Old Havana as they connect with some of the city's finest musicians—like singers Bobby Carcasses and Amado Dedeu —for a recording session. Bunnett and Cramer then venture to small towns like Cienfuegos and Camaguey, where they hook up with local musicians and visit music schools. Global music fans will be captivated by the performances of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, a celebrated Afro-Cuban rumba group, and Desandann, a 10-member a cappella choir that sings in Haitian Creole.
Brilliantly mixing animated sequences and archival footage, Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre paints a touching portrait of virtuoso pianist Oscar Peterson. As with her previous films (McLaren’s Negative and Jutra), Saint-Pierre pursues her bold and personal approach with this animated documentary of Oscar Peterson at the twilight of an exceptional career, as he wistfully meditates on the price of fame and the impacts of the artist’s life on family life. From the young prodigy’s beginnings in Little Burgundy to his triumphs on the international stage alongside the biggest stars of his time, Oscar explores the profound solitude of an artist constantly on tour, and the difficulty in reconciling his professional success with his role as husband and father. Set to the tunes of Peterson’s sometimes catchy, sometimes melancholy-tinged compositions, the film alternates between animated sequences and footage of radio and video interviews to tell a heartfelt story about a life in jazz.
Oliver Jones, one of Canada's foremost jazz pianists, tours Nigeria with his bassist and drummer, discovering in Africa the roots of much of today's music. Hearing and absorbing the musical sources of blues, spirituals, calypso rhythms and more, he reflects that for a Black jazz artist, a trip to Africa is a voyage home.
This 1959 feature documentary is a foray into Canada’s art milieu. What is it like to be a Canadian artist? Answering this central question are Teresa Stratas, winner of Metropolitan Opera auditions; acclaimed lyric tenor Léopold Simoneau and his talented wife, soprano Pierrette Alarie; the National Ballet Company of Canada’s artistic director, Celia Franca and leading male dancer, David Adams; as well as jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, whom we visit at 3 o'clock in the morning at Boston's Storyville Club. The film also includes interviews with radio and television actor John Drainie, Christopher Plummer and Jean Gascon, director of Montreal's Théâtre du Nouveau Monde.
From a quiet, neglected corner of Nova Scotia, a meeting with the Black community that shows both the traditional attitudes of the older generation and the more alert, resolved stance of the young. The old still pin their hopes on the church and the preacher, while the young look more towards the Black United Front and its roving director. For both generations change is a challenge. The common hope is for a fuller life.
This documentary is the story of two Mennonite brothers from Manitoba who were forced to make a decision in 1939, as Canada joined World War II. In the face of 400 years of pacifist tradition, should they now go to war? Ted became a conscientious objector while his brother went into military service. Fifty years later, the town of Winkler dedicates its first war memorial and John begins to share his war experiences with Ted.