The Jazz Sound and Jewish Films
David Krakauer links the mediums
“New York is the jazz capital of the world!” yelled out the enthused emcee at Le Poisson Rouge, at one point, this Saturday night. And it really felt like it, too: according to the organizers of this year’s Winter JazzFest that included dozens of bands in six venues across New York’s Greenwich Village, the event was completely sold out. Block-long crowds piled outside of each venue, and Le Poisson Rouge, the festival’s main stage, was jam-packed from early on in the night, which is when David Krakauer’s “Big Picture” project took stage.
David Krakauer is major clarinetist: although world-renown for his klezmer chops, he’s brought his sound into worlds as diverse as funk, classical music, and avant-garde jazz. The newest project, however, is not a genre exploration, but a conceptual one. “Big Picture” is about reinterpretation of American film music–some of the most poignant tunes, played behind the screen. More often than not, caught up in a film’s narrative, we do not even notice these melodies, as they surface on the background and fade out. And yet they have a major effect on us–amplifying our emotions, refocusing and guiding our attention. It is that very emotional-laden memory that Krakauer’s sound taps into–the vague but potent recollection of how we felt watching films he’s borrowed melodies from: “The Pianist”, “Lenny”, “Sophie’s Choice”, and “Life is Beautiful” among others.
To me, the point was brought home most explicitly when the band went into “Body & Soul,” as a tribute to Woody Allen’s “Radio Days”. The melody is familiar to anyone with even a cursory interest in jazz: it has been covered by such giants as Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaugham. Yet, riffing on Benny Goodman’s version that Woody Allen uses in his film, Krakauer brought to the stage, the very quintessence of what a classic Woody Allen movie feels and sounds like. Sure, we all laugh at Woody’s self-deprecating, neurotic quips (and as per Woody’s opinion piece in this weekend’s Times), the neuroticism is still going strong), but what makes his films so memorable is a certain magical, romantic, anything-is-possible-and-yet sort of an attitude that those vintage jazz tracks bring to us, from the background.
Krakauer closed the set with a song, which, he announced “you can all help us with, I’m sure”. It was none other than “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof”, which, indeed, the crowd shouted along to, on band’s cue. Indeed, the jazz capital of the world – and the capital of a few other things, too.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.