Edinburgh International Film Festival's top Jazz & Blues films
With Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival’s Blues Weekend Online taking place this week, Senior Programmer Niall Greig Fulton rounds up a selection of jazz and blues related films and videos currently available to watch at home.
German television music showcase Beat Club (1965-1972) featured a dazzling array of influential artists over the years. Here’s songs from Canned Heat, Muddy Waters and B.B. King via the official Beat Club YouTube channel:
Canned Heat – On the Road Again (1968)
B.B. King – Heartbreaker (1968)
Muddy Waters – Honey Bee (1970)
Waters also appeared on another famous German music show in the 1970s. Watch highlights of Muddy Waters - Live at Rockpalast (1978) here:
The full concert is available from Amazon Prime here.
See Waters jam with The Rolling Stones, and Miles Davis electrify both his band and his biggest audience ever in two classic performances made available by Eagle Rock on their official YouTube channel:
Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones - Live at The Checkerboard Lounge (1981)
Miles Davis - Live at the Isle of Wight (1970)
To see Davis in action just prior to his electric era, watch highlights of Miles Davis - Live in Copenhagen (1969) on the official Miles Davis YouTube channel here:
Get the full, uninterrupted concert via Amazon Prime here:
To learn more about “The Man with the Horn”, Stanley Nelson’s recent portrait of Davis, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) is still available on BBC iPlayer.
The iPlayer also features a superb selection of vintage blues content:
Chicago Blues (1970)
Harley Cokeliss documentary featuring Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy.
Big Bill Blues (1956)
Jean Delire’s film noir styled short finds Big Bill Broonzy playing four songs live in a Brussels night club.
Blind John Davies (1985)
Journalist Studs Terkel and pianist Blind John Davis meet to talk and play the blues.
B.B. King Speaks (1985)
Broadcaster John Walters talks to B.B. King.
Sounding Out: B.B. King (1972)
B.B. King filmed in England during the recording of his album The London Sessions.
Sonny Boy Williamson Sings (1985)
Rare footage of harmonica blues player Sonny Boy Williamson.
With a reputation as the biggest indoor jazz festival in the world, The Northsea Jazz Festival is an annual event that has been held in the Netherlands since 1976. The fourth edition in 1979 featured a breath-taking line up of blues and jazz legends. Several of the concerts from the event are available in their entirety on YouTube:
Sun Ra Arkestra
Oscar Peterson & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
Staying on the festival circuit, the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival recently opened-up their vast archive and released 50 concert films to stream for free. Amongst the many gems on offer, there’s incredible performances from Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Etta James, Quincy Jones and Isaac Hayes. Click here to access this unmissable opportunity.
Throughout the 1980s director Robert Mugge delivered several extraordinary documentaries focusing on great jazz and blues musicians. Three of the best, exploring the worlds of Sun Ra, Gil Scott Heron and Sonny Rollins, are currently available free with Amazon Prime:
Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise (1980)
Gil Scott Heron: Black Wax (1982)
Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (1986)
Also available free with Amazon Prime, director Les Blank’s The Blues According to Lightning Hopkins (1970) is a memorable and insightful portrait of the legendary Texas blues man.
Netflix has a fine selection of jazz and blues related documentaries currently on offer too, exploring the lives of such greats as Lee Morgan, Nina Simone, Quincy Jones, John Coltrane and timeless blues enigma Robert Johnson.
I Called Him Morgan (2016)
What Happened Miss Simone (2015)
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (2016)
Devil at the Crossroads (2019)
Last but by no means least, the INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel) website and YouTube channels feature countless extraordinary archive musical performances. Here’s a small selection of the many gems available:
Dizzy Gillespie – A Night in Tunisia (1970)
Thelonious Monk – Jazz Portrait (1970)
Ella Fitzgerald – Live at the Cannes Jazz Festival (1958)
Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (1973)
SérgioMendes & Brasil 66 – Mas Que Nada (1969)
SérgioMendes & Brasil 66 – Upa Neguinho (1969)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1966)
John Coltrane – Naima (1966)
Miles Davis - Au clair de la lune (1956)
Herbie Hancock – Toys (1972)
Herbie Hancock – Sleeping Giant (1972)
Herbie Hancock – Water Torture (1972)
Charles Mingus & Eric Dolphy – Live at Festival Jazz d'Antibes Juan-les-Pins (1960)
Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Arkestra – Jazz Session (1972)
John Lee Hooker – I Feel Good (1979)