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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

9. Blinkity Blank (1955)
Move over, Ornette; clear some room there, Mr. Coltrane; look what we have here, Lord Dolphy: a futuristic animated jazz film by Norman McLaren with the contributing images—fruits, trees, dots, chickens, lines, shimmering shapes—engraved directly onto black leader. This is big-time venturesome, as much so graphically as Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker were auditorily when they elected to invert convention and have at the building of their mighty legacies. Maurice Blackburn provides the soundtrack, a kind of alien-friendly dance music fed through machines. But it’s that music’s union with the visuals that matters most. We all hear jazz differently, but I think when we hear it, we see it too, in associative forms and colors and movements. Here’s the filmic Möbius-strip version of that.


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.