Reel Life Jazz

The challenge of the jazz documentary is combining talk and music without allowing one to ride roughshod over the other. Peter Bull’s stirring Steve Lacy: Lift the Bandstand (1985, 50 min.), about soprano saxophonist and Thelonious Monk disciple Steve Lacy, compromises neither the performances of Lacy’s inventive sextet nor Lacy’s observations about his career. John Jeremy’s first-rate Born to Swing (1973, 50 min.), about various alumni of Count Basie’s 1943 band reuniting, also finds a successful balance. I haven’t seen the other entries in this five-and-a-half-hour program of jazz filmsPeter Kowald: Off the Road, a recent French documentary about the bassist’s solo tour of the U.S.; Frans Boelen’s Dutch film Sonny Rollins: Live at Loren (1973, 37 min.); and a selection of clips from the excellent collection of Jazz Record Mart owner Bob Koesterbut it sounds like a great show. (JR)

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