Watching a video recording of a live performance isn’t fairly the identical as being there, but at its finest a filmed present can amplify the music with a cinematic dimension, creating revelatory pictures and foregrounding charismatic presences. That’s what a rare new trove of sixty-six live performance movies, sourced from France’s nationwide audiovisual archive and launched on the Qwest TV Website, presents. (Qwest is a streaming web site and TV channel, based in 2017 by Quincy Jones and the music producer Reza Ackbaraly.) The performances, starting from the nineteen-fifties by way of the nineteen-eighties, characteristic lots of the twentieth-century heroes of Black music, from Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald to Aretha Franklin and James Brown, however the rediscoveries of not often seen artists (specifically, jazz artists) are as important because the spotlighting of celebrated ones. The Qwest assortment is probably probably the most important treasure chest of archival jazz live shows to emerge in years.
Earlier this 12 months, an enriching however minor Thelonious Monk discovery, “Palo Alto,” from 1968, emerged, however the Monk live performance that has surfaced on Qwest—“Thelonious Monk Quartet: Live in Amiens, France,” from 1966—is main. (Like lots of the live shows within the assortment, it’s divided into two elements.) Monk performs in his common quartet of the time—the tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, the bassist Larry Gales, and the drummer Ben Riley—and so they play lots of his best-known compositions (together with “Blue Monk” and “Rhythm-a-Ning”), however they accomplish that with a collective inspiration that’s fuelled by Monk’s energetic enthusiasm. That is on view from the beginning, in his fierce accompaniment to Rouse, and continues in his solos—that are seen from a digicam perched overhead, displaying his command of your entire keyboard and revealing, in his darting attain alongside its size, the method of musical thought in motion.
“Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: Live at the Pleyel Concert Hall, Paris,” from 1958, options the bandleader in expansive kind, each on the piano and in his conversational interludes with the viewers. The live performance spotlights his nice soloists from the time—notably, Johnny Hodges on “M. C. Blue” and Paul Gonsalves on a number of numbers, notably “Take the A Train,” the band’s theme tune. Within the latter piece, after Ray Nance’s exuberant scat singing, Ellington pulls the vigorous tune down-tempo, and the tenor saxophonist Gonsalves solos, in a sluggish and sinuous slide that he ornaments with filigreed intimacies earlier than bursting into an ardent rush to the end.
“Nina Simone: Live at the Olympia, Paris,” from 1970, presents her with a sextet (4 different musicians and two backing singers) and finds her radiant and reflective; she’s energetic and rhapsodic on the piano, and when, in the midst of “My Eyes Can Only Look at You,” she will get as much as dance, it’s as if she’s each casting a spell and bestowing a benediction.
In “James Brown and the Famous Flames: Live at the Olympia, Paris,” from 1966, the camerawork is a part of the story. Brown is, as ever, in exhilarating overdrive, and really lengthy and really excessive closeups of him, from the aspect, singing “Prisoner of Love” and “Maybe the Last Time,” discover him on the verge of a frame-shattering frenzy—one which’s realized sonically in “Please, Please, Please” when he drops to his knees and keens into the mike to create a bone-splintering sound akin to natural-voiced suggestions. (Additionally, on the finish, the digicam fixes its consideration on a notable member of the viewers, Serge Gainsbourg.)
The pianist Ahmad Jamal, a key affect on Miles Davis within the fifties, organized, in impact, orchestrally for his piano trio; the group, in “Ahmad Jamal Trio: Live in Paris,” from 1971, showcases the teeming orchestral energy of Jamal’s personal pianism by way of two prolonged items during which his solos show an amazing but unfailingly lyrical virtuosity, an outpouring of creativeness together with sheer sonic majesty.
There are three performances by Miles Davis within the archive, all of them really helpful. The earliest, “Miles Davis Quintet: Live at Antibes Jazz Festival,” from July of 1969, options his nice “Lost Quintet” (together with Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette), so referred to as as a result of the group by no means recorded within the studio. The warmth of this live performance is palpable within the rigidity between Davis and Shorter—Davis performs with a tautly focussed depth, however Shorter performs with a fury that tends towards free jazz, and the rhythm part is all too blissful to comply with alongside into the vortex. (It’s additionally amongst Davis’s final recordings of his longtime requirements “Milestones” and “ ’Round Midnight.”) Later in 1969, “Miles Davis Quintet: Live at Newport Jazz Festival, Paris,” options the identical group in shifting repertory and with a special tone—tighter, fiercer, extra rock-oriented. The distinction of Davis’s work with Shorter’s and the remainder of the group’s is all of the extra conspicuous right here, and presages the break that was about to happen: that is the quintet’s final recorded efficiency. In the meantime, the misnamed video “Miles Davis Quintet: Live at Newport Jazz Festival, Paris,” from 1973, doesn’t characteristic a quintet; it options the trumpeter with a brand new band (a septet) and a brand new model—an electrical trumpet, because the announcer explains, with a wah-wah pedal; a brand new funkified and percussion-heavy sound that additionally contains two electrical guitars (in addition to an electrical organ that Davis himself performs); and a brand new group idea, during which his management turns into a sort of conducting by way of lengthy, freely flowing performances that morph from one into one other at a nod of his head. Davis’s personal solos are radically fragmented into blasts and runs that each mesh with the hefty beat and burst by way of it.
“Aretha Franklin: Live at Antibes Jazz Festival,” from 1970, finds her as a jazz singer, backed by a jazz band. She opens the present with pliable and breezy renditions of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Come Back to Me,” earlier than launching jubilantly into her common repertory—“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “I Say a Little Prayer”—after which sitting down on the piano to accompany herself, thrillingly, in “Eleanor Rigby,” “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone,” and “Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business),” during which her gospel-inspired piano taking part in launches her singing with a particular fervor.
The 4 elements of “Jazz at the Philharmonic: Live at the Pleyel Concert Hall, Paris,” from 1960, characteristic quite a lot of teams, starting from the taut and bluesy ferocity of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet to an octet of (almost) all-stars, together with the founding artist of jazz tenor saxophone, Coleman Hawkins, and the drummer Jo Jones (who roughly invented the trendy idea of swing, with Rely Basie, within the thirties). In Half 2, Jones cuts free with one of the crucial imaginative and entertaining drum solos I’ve ever noticed—he begins with the percussive whisper of brushes, switches to sticks, after which drums together with his fingers, delighting within the energy of the drums themselves and within the maintain that they exert over his amazed viewers.
The trumpeter Charles Tolliver fashioned an uncommon group, Music Inc., in 1969—it featured him with piano, bass, and drums, however no different horn, putting a rare bodily demand on him. He meets it, excitingly, in two completely different live shows. In “Charles Tolliver’s Music Inc.: Live in Paris, Part 1,” from 1971, he’s together with his longtime affiliate, the pianist Stanley Cowell (who died on December 17th, on the age of seventy-nine), and the band, which performs hard-rhythmic, advanced post-bop with a tinge of the heaven-storming clamor of free jazz. Within the final two numbers, when Cowell switches to electrical piano, the vitality overflows into Tolliver’s blazing trumpet fanfares. Within the second live performance, “Charles Tolliver Quartet: Live in Paris,” from 1973, the rhythm trio is completely different, and Tolliver stands out in entrance of it, energetically carrying the majority of solo area (and seemingly pushing himself to the sting of exhaustion) with some harrowingly lengthy and spectacularly high-energy cadenzas.
The trumpeter Don Cherry—a founding member of Ornette Coleman’s revolutionary quartet from the late fifties and early sixties—does a two-part set, “Don Cherry Trio: Live in Paris,” from 1971, that distills a kaleidoscopic and complete sensibility into his tightly meshed interactions with the bassist Johnny Dyani and the drummer Okay Temiz. Cherry begins out on the wooden flute after which strikes to the piano, the place he performs jauntily rhythmic and catchy melodies, which he additionally sings, in a breathy chant that’s harking back to Pharoah Sanders’s world-music cosmos of the late sixties. Then he brings out his pocket trumpet (it has a really quick bell) for some darting, Cubistic improvisations, earlier than returning to the rocking, songful groove.
I’m saving the perfect—and the largest shock—for final. The nice Bud Powell, the onetime affiliate and pianistic peer of Charlie Parker, seems with the bassist Pierre Michelot and the American drummer Kenny Clarke (the seminal bebop drummer) to exhilarating impact in a pair of movies, “1959: A Night at the Club Saint-Germain” and “Live from the Blue Note Paris,” from 1960, with appearances by different musicians. Within the latter, they’re joined by the saxophonist Fortunate Thompson (additionally an affiliate of each Parker and Davis on historic recordings) and, extra surprisingly, by one other pianist, who’s billed within the credit as Alice McCloud however whose title was really Alice McLeod—and who’s higher recognized by her married title, Alice Coltrane. She was about twenty-three on the time of the recording, and her profound originality—in proof from the very begin, when she accompanies the singer Billie Poole—is matched by her precocity. She’s a part of a trio, a quartet, and a quintet, and all through she delivers wealthy and complicated chords, scintillating dissonances, and irregularly formed melodic phrases that resound with non secular craving; her uniquely oceanic, questing sound is usually recommended within the distinctive place of her fingers on the keyboard. She’s already taking part in in a means that hyperlinks her, from throughout the ocean, to what John Coltrane (whom she hadn’t but met) was doing; this efficiency makes clear that their eventual encounter was a musical, inventive, and mental partnership even earlier than it occurred.