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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

7. Paris Blues (1961)
I partly love this one as I do because at one point Paul Newman, who plays a trombonist named Ram Bowen—“Ram it, baby!”—loses his cool when his girl incorrectly says that she feels badly, which causes him to act out the grammatical difference between that and feeling bad. It’s funny, but it makes a point that will stick with you. Sidney Poitier is an expat saxophonist who is pure cool blues. But he’s Poitier, so he’d have to be, right? More fervid is Louis Armstrong as Wild Man Moore. This is, like the Krupa pic, another “should I or shouldn’t I give up on my music” conflict film. Newman commits to domesticity after not being able to handle some simple feedback—which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but hey, it’s a broad-ish, inspirited movie, not honed Chekhovian diegesis. But still punchy. Which is why Newman, in the jazz hero moment, flips back to his music.

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Originally Published

Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature, current events—for a wide range of publications, and talks regularly on radio and podcasts. His most recent books are an entry in the 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, a volume about the 1951 film Scrooge as the ultimate work of cinematic terror, and the story collection, If You [ ]: Fabula, Fantasy, F**kery, Hope. Find him on the web at (where he maintains the unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.