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JazzTimes 10: Jazz on Film

Ten great examples of what happens when jazz goes to the movies—and the movies go to jazz

When it comes to symbiosis, jazz and cinema aren’t exactly the clownfish and the sea anemone. Cinema asks us to travel with our eyes, to use them as portals to other times and places, whether real or imagined. Jazz, on the other hand, is aural storytelling, transporting you via your ears both to a distant land brought into being by the creativity of others and to the inner continent of what makes you uniquely you.

But there have been times at the cinema—at screenings of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane or Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past—when I have shut my eyes, letting the sound of the story, the dialogue, the ambience, wash over me, a sonic river, and I have thought, “You know, this is pretty jazzy, it’s a little like how I feel when Eric Dolphy takes a bass clarinet solo, or Bud Powell has decided it’s time to lovingly spar with Bird.”

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Originally Published

Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature—for a wide range of publications. He also talks regularly on the radio for the likes of NPR and Downtown with Rich Kimball. His most recent book, Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls (Tailwinds), was published in 2019, with an entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club to follow in 2020. Find him on the web at (where you’ll also find his unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.