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.

 

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 colinfleminglit.com (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.