The NFB and Jazz

The NFB and Jazz

We've put together a selection of films set to jazz music that's sure to get you moving... or at least tapping your feet! The playlist includes classics such as The Log Driver's Waltz, Street Musique and Norman McLaren's Begone Dull Care, featuring music by the great Oscar Peterson. You'll be able to relive musical and cinematic moments from years gone by.

Enjoy.

  • Begone Dull Care

    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.

  • Walking
    1968|5 min

    Animator Ryan Larkin uses an artist's sensibility to illustrate the way people walk. He employs a variety of techniques--line drawing, colour wash, etc.--to catch and reproduce the motion of people afoot. The springing gait of youth, the mincing step of the high-heeled female, the doddering amble of the elderly--all are registered with humour and individuality, to the accompaniment of special sound. Without words.

  • Street Musique
    1972|8 min

    Animator Ryan Larkin does a visual improvisation to music performed by a popular group presented as sidewalk entertainers. His take-off point is the music, but his own beat is more boisterous than that of the musicians. The illustrations range from convoluted abstractions to caricatures of familiar rituals. Without words.

  • Boogie-Doodle
    1941|3 min

    In this short animation film, the "boogie" is played by Albert Ammons and the "doodle" is drawn by Norman McLaren. Made without the use of a camera, Boogie-Doodle is a rhythmic, brightly coloured film experiment.

  • Juke-Bar
    1989|10 min

    This animated short introduces a juke box into a greasy spoon diner overrun with cockroaches. The cockroaches get caught up in the music as their lives are transformed by the arrival of this new machine. But the restaurant's owner has a plan: will he be able to outsmart his uninvited guests?

  • Canada Vignettes: Log Driver's Waltz
    1979|3 min

    Easily one of the most often-requested films in the NFB collection, this lighthearted animated short is based on the song “The Log Driver’s Waltz” by Wade Hemsworth. Kate and Anna McGarrigle sing along to the tale of a young girl who loves to dance and chooses to marry a log driver over his more well-to-do competitors.

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  • Hen Hop
    1942|3 min

    This joyful short animation features a dancing hen that transforms into an egg. The film was made without a camera by Norman McLaren, who drew directly onto 35 mm movie stock with ordinary pen and ink. Colour was added optically.

  • Le merle
    1958|4 min

    In this animation film, Norman McLaren imparts unusual activity to an old French-Canadian nonsense song. Simple white cut-outs on pastel backgrounds, many by Evelyn Lambart, provide lively illustrations. The folksong "Mon Merle" is sung in French by the Trio Lyrique of Montreal.

  • Toronto Jazz
    1963|26 min

    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.

  • Oscar

    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.

  • Short and Suite
    1959|5 min

    This short animation is a delightful colour cocktail by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. The various moods in music written for a jazz ensemble by Eldon Rathburn are translated into moving patterns of colour and light. This lively short is composed of images hand-scratched and hand-painted directly onto the film strip.

  • Show Girls
    1998|52 min

    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.

  • Liberty Street Blues
    1989|1 h 17 min

    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.