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Free Jazz Film Series at Library of Congress in April

Ed Thigpen

The Library of Congress will present a jazz film series on Wednesday evenings throughout April. All programs are free, but seating is limited to 60 seats. Reservations may be made by phone, beginning one week before any given show. Call (202) 707-5677 during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm). Reserved seats must be claimed at least 10 minutes before show time, after which standbys will be admitted to unclaimed seats. Programs subject to change without notice. Screenings take place at the Mary Pickford Theater, James Madison Building, 3rd Floor.


Wednesday, April 1 (7:00 pm) (Sneak Preview Screening)

The Jazz Baroness (BBC, 2009). Dir & Wrt: Hannah Rothschild. (82 min, DVD).

This documentary explores the fascinating story of Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a.k.a. “Nica,” the British Baroness, Rothschild heiress and patron of jazz musicians in New York. She was the inspiration for several important jazz compositions and Thelonious Monk spent his final years living in her New Jersey house full of cats. Sonny Rollins, T.S. Monk, Quincy Jones, Roy Haynes and Chico Hamilton are interviewed, along with members of the Rothschild family. Helen Mirren is the voice of the Jazz Baroness.

Wednesday, April 8 (7:00pm)

Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women In Jazz (Kay D. Ray Productions, 2007). Prod, Dir & Wrt: Kay Ray. (120 min, DVD).

Lady Be Good uncovers the powerful and personal stories of women musical pioneers, interweaving interviews with Marian McPartland, Carline Ray, Bertha Hope, Roz Cron and Betty O’Hara with rare archival footage and photos of Lil Hardin Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Ada Leonard and Her All-Girl Orchestra, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Ina Rae Hutton and the Melodears and the Hormel Girls. Narrated by Patrice Rushen.

Wednesday, April 15 (7:00pm)

Electric Heart: Don Ellis (2008). Dir: John Vizzusi. Prod: Mike Kaiser. Wrt: John Killoch, Vizzusi. (70 min, DVD).

Trumpeter, composer and bandleader Don Ellis created a unique fusion of jazz, classical and rock music characterized by odd-metered arrangements, quarter-tones and the use of a four-valve trumpet. Considering he was one of the most exciting acts of his day, Ellis’ contributions have long been underappreciated and his recordings are sought out by collectors. John Vizzusi’s documentary tells the story of this undeservedly obscure musician with help from Maynard Ferguson, Gunther Schuller, Milcho Leviev and others. Narrated by Mary McKitrick.

This screening will be introduced by the director, John Vizzusi.

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