Friday, March 31, 2017

Jazz on Film: YOU SEE WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY? with Marion Brown (1967)


In this short film from 1967, filmmaker Henry English attempts to place a context around saxophonist and composer Marion Brown's flurries of notes and expression. Juxtaposed against performance footage and scenes from Brown's environment are the musician's spoken observations in which he, in a gentle Georgia accent, explains some of who he is and how his chosen form of expression (wild, free lines of spontaneous sound) may not be as alien as it must have seemed in 1967.

Jazz is the ultimate ephemeral medium, and has never fully been fully captured on film, or record, for that matter. Films such as English's don't provide much in the way of comprehensive data about the form (nor do they attempt to) but the film helps us bear witness to the form in a time of change, when the tradition was close at hand, but a few felt safe enough in the strength of that tree trunk to spread their branches far, far out.

This is a record of one of those far out branches.

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