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Jazz 34

Filmed entirely on location during the making of 1996’s Kansas City, Director Robert Altman wisely decided to set his assembled cast of musicians loose in a jazz club setting, leave them to their own devices, and film the results. Jazz 34 may yet prove to be a more accurate portrayal of the jazz milieu than Kansas City itself, for which Altman received some justified criticism within the music world. Narrated by Harry Belafonte, the film features twelve performances in all, with period pieces like Tickle Toe, Moten Swing and King Porter Stomp as the blowing material, and a strong cast of today’s leading young musicians is headed by Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Geri Allen and Kevin Mahogony, as well as a phalanx of other jazz luminaries. Altman sprinkles some cinematic magic dust over the proceedings with characteristic style and its easy to forget that this is not some archive footage of Kansas City in its jazz heyday.

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