Cinema of Jazz


While I often feel like I have not a moment to do anything these days, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of last minute screenings at trendy Camera Bar on the newly renamed "West Queen West" strip, as part of the Cinema of Jazz Festival.

Firstly, I am beginning to find "West Queen West" a little too hip to handle. I think that this is what happens to those of us that migrate to Queen East. My neighbourhood in the Film District feels like an older sister, still hip, but more sensible than the Gallery District around Queen and Ossington. Walking along that 'hood, I was often very close to throwing up my hands and screaming "I get it! You're cool! You WIN!!!!" but then I feared I would have been promptly whisked off to 1001, never to be seen from again. Sooooo...I just rolled my eyes behind my large enough to be conspicuous in "West Queen West" shades.

As for the Cinema of Jazz Fest...a great concept, and there is enough interest in it to have survived it's first outing last year to come back and try again in '05. The thing is, it just hasn't quite gelled yet. I'm not even sure why. Little things...the lights didn't go down fast enough, didn't come up fast enough, the air conditioning...too cold, the sound...too low. The Fest director and programmer, Myan Marcen-Gaudaur, too, let's say, present. The woman was EVERYWHERE and just way too visible. Sit on the sidelines, Myan, and watch it happen. I don't need to know SO much about you. Also, the website needs a major overhaul. Poor design, not user friendly enough.

The programming is also uneven at best. The film that got me in the door, 1994's "A Great Day in Harlem" is a favourite of mine, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to see it on a sort of big screen. The film that it was paired with "Portrait of a Filmmaker" was mercifully short, but still, that's 2 minutes and 10 seconds of my life I'll never get back. The other films I saw were "Alma's Jazzy Marriage" which weaved an interview with Alma Foster, who spent thirty odd years married to bass innovator and contemporary of Louis Armstrong, George "Pops" Foster, together with vintage photos and a sadly repetitive soundtrack. The film seemed promising to me, but sad to say, Alma didn't have any charisma, her stories just weren't interesting and the filmmakers were amateurish and heavy handed in their technique. It was just plain bad. "Keeping Time: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton" was much, much better, if only because Hinton was such a great subject. Such a loveable guy, with so many admirers and such genuine talent. His photographs were amazing. They were all so candid and real. Makes me wonder if Hinton's photos travel. Perhaps an exhibit is due in TO? Hinton recorded some of my all time favourite records as part of the "Sackville Allstars" here in Toronto, I imagine there are a number of folks who would love to see an exhibit of this exceptional man's work. The photo that is displayed above was taken at the "Great Day in Harlem" photo shoot. Hinton got a lot of great candid shots that day, this one of all the legendary drummers in attendance.

I hope the Cinema of Jazz Fest returns for a third year in '06. There are certainly improvements that need to be made if this Fest is to grow, but all in all it's a worthwhile project.

1 comment :

  1. Anonymous10:52 PM

    KEEPING TIME was on PBS recently and I had the girls tape it!

    - Black Tarantula


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