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Embracing Dissonance2014

A Life in Bebop

  • 3.3
This documentary illuminates little-known aspects of the history of bebop jazz, including anecdotes about the formation of the "house band" at Minton's, the Harlem birthplace of bebop. This documentary focuses on multitalented musician and composer Joel Forrester in an exploration of his diverse musical talents and influences. Forrester recounts previously unknown aspects of the life of Thelonious Monk and the Jazz Baroness, Pannonica Rothschild. The film also explores bebop's origins in the Harlem jazz club Minton's, Forrester's work as a composer of African American church music, as an improv accompanist for silent movies and as a teacher of jazz musical forms. Forrester's story plays out like a jazz tune: a strong theme runs through a series of improvisational changes, solo riffs, and ensemble resolutions to weave the fabric of a bebop life.

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Member Reviews (3)

Production issues aside, in my experience as a jazz listener, this pianist was not my cup of tea: prosaic in pedestrian-sounding piano riffs, rigid and flat in feelings, and over-all, pretty negligible in impact. I was bored by his name-dropping account of the relationship with Nica and Monk. I was offended by his formulaic cap-doffing to the black gospel tradition. The Septet clips felt gimmicky, like they were intended for a commercial, especially shots with the baritone sax player wearing the duck-dynasty beard. It was a tired pastiche like the crap that preceded Stieglitz's Armory Show in the early 20th Century. I was disappointed.

1 member likes this review

very interesting. Technically not perfect, but a lot of heart and soul. Brilliant musicians!

Well done look at the process of creating a musical form. A good watch and a fine listen.