Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser | Expanding on footage of Monk’s 1967 tour shot by Christian Blackwood, Charlotte Zwering (Gimme Shelter) has created the definitive filmic portrait of the master bop pianist-composer. This captivating film digs deeper into the life of the famously eccentric pianist-composer. Watch for free on Vimeo.
Chasing Trane | CHASING TRANE is the definitive documentary film about an outside-the-box thinker with extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This smart, passionate, thought-provoking and uplifting documentary is for anyone who appreciates the power of music to entertain, inspire and transform. Watch on Netflix
What Happened Miss Simone? | The documentary chronicles the life of American singer Nina Simone, who became a civil rights activist and moved to Liberia following the turbulence of the 1960s. The documentary combines previously unreleased archival footage and interviews with Simone’s daughter and friends. Watch on Netflix.
Miles Ahead | Miles Ahead is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Don Cheadle in his feature directorial debut, which Cheadle co-wrote with Steven Baigelman, Stephen J. Rivele, and Christopher Wilkinson, which interprets the life and compositions of jazz musician Miles Davis. Watch on Netflix.
Ken Burns: Jazz | Filmmaker Ken Burns tells the story of jazz — the quintessential American art form. The 10-part series follows the growth and development of jazz music from the gritty streets of New Orleans to the Lincoln Gardens on Chicago’s south side, where Louis Armstrong first won fame, from Prohibition-era speakeasies to the wide-open clubs of Kansas City, from the elegant Roseland Ballroom in Times Square, where only whites were allowed to dance, to the more egalitarian Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where people of all colors mingled. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Blue Note Records – Beyond The Notes | Beyond The Notes explores the unique vision behind the iconic American jazz record label, Blue Note. Through rare archive, current recording sessions and conversations with influential Blue Note musicians of different generations, the film reveals an inspiring quest that continues to be vital in today’s political climate. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Live at Ronnie Scott’s | A series of live Jazz performances from legendary musicians including Nina Simone, Chet Baker and Art Blakey, live at the renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Bill Evans – Time Remembered | Bill Evans Time Remembered is a 90-minute documentary film, produced by Bruce Spiegel which tells the story of Bill Evans‘ turbulent life and his contribution to jazz music. Watch on Amazon Prime.
The Girls in the Band | “The Girls in the Band” is everything a worthwhile documentary should be, and then some: engaging, informative, thorough and brimming with delightful characters. Shining a long-overdue spotlight on the shamefully forgotten women who flourished as jazz musicians at a time when men ruled the beat, Judy Chaikin’s beautifully assembled film gives voice to performers whose names are too often unknown even among their musical sisters of the present day. Visit the film’s website.
What are your favourite jazz documentaries? Let us know!