Saturday, August 24, 2013


THE CRY OF JAZZ was shown August 22, 2013, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's film series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Ed Bland's film, released in 1959, still speaks to our time. The film was far ahead of its time and, in some ways, the times still have not caught up with its message.

The August 26, 2013, issue of the New Yorker carries Richard Brody's thoughtful, sensitive review of the film.

Review by Richard Brody August 26, 2013

THE CRY OF JAZZ Edward O. Bland’s dramatic filmmaking may be unusually crude, but his documentary-based insights into the art and politics of jazz—as seen in this short work of philosophical agitprop, from 1959—are profound. His film opens with a party at which white jazz enthusiasts ask questions about the music that their black friends answer. This framework gives way to the director’s essay-like narration, in which he defines jazz in terms of African-American experience; relates its form and sound—and the existential edge of black musicians’ performances—to politics; explains the music as a variety of oral history; and, remarkably, predicts both the aesthetic of free jazz and the music’s role in the civil-rights movement. Filmed performances of the Chicago-based visionary Sun Ra and his band (highlighting the great saxophonist John Gilmore) illustrate Bland’s theses and spark the director’s keenest visual engagement. Bland’s ideas are provocative and stimulating; the movie, which is as heartfelt as it is analytical, suggests a new dimension in music criticism.—R.B. (BAM CinĂ©matek; Aug. 22.)

NOTE: This blog is being maintained by members of Ed's family. Sadly, Ed passed away March 14, 2013.