The BFI Jazz and Film opener

I’ve just been to the opening event of the BFI’s weekend. Hats off guys. A lot of thought has gone into this.

Tonight there was a screening of Joseph Losey’s Accident, followed by John Dankworth talking about it.

The bit I saw was JD and James Pearson (piano- he’s Artistic Director at Ronnie Scott’s) playing and then interviewing Dankworth’s , mainly about his film composing career, although at one point we managed to be transplanted to a naval dance at Dartmouth with one band member lost taking a leak on Dartmoor. At which point I thought I saw an American Werewolf. Or maybe not.

Then a film from the early pioneering days of Channel 4 , screened in 1983.It was from a very short-lived series presented by Capital Radio’s Tony Myatt called “4 Up 2 Down . Just TEN episodes according to the BFI’s database.

There was vintage footage of Art Pepper talking about drugs……

……Mingus talking about multi-day sex using a lightbulb to demonstrate……

…..and a low-down funky 1982 Dankworth Quintet in which three of the players switched instruments from first to second sets. -Dankworth stayed on various reeds and on a shocking pink 1982 shirt designed for medallion-wearers
– Kenny Clare remained darkly on drums.
-But a ridiculously boyish-looking Alec Dankworth did the first set on electric bass and the second on upright (steam to the cognoscenti) bass.
-And coiffed Daryl Runswick (the link is to my profile from February) was on Fender Rhodes and piano in the first set, and guitar in the second. And was credited on the soundtrack as John Horler.
-And sol-id Bill LeSage did the first set on vibes and the second on piano.

Check out the BFI’s website there’s loads more. I’ll also be writing about something v. special on the 24th!

Dankworth is just one of the four octogenarians I’m going to be writing about this weekend. He spoke tonight of now feeling very detached onlooker as he considers the man and the musician he was at those earlier points of his career. Indeed the fifties bebopper, the sixties film composer and the seventies-eighties touring bandleader…each persona seemed like very different incarnations, each a commentary on its separate era. Jazz history unfurling before one’s eyes…. Great to have been there.

Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. Frank Griffith writes:

    As an “audient” at the Sir John Dankworth talk and performance at the 12 June BFI Jazz and Film event I found his comments stimulating especially in regard to dealing with the different directors like Losey, Reisz and Schlesinger during the 1960s.

    His talk occurred just after the showing of Losey's Accident which had a grand total of 11 minutes of music throughout a 2 hour film, which is minimal at best and only included Sir JD himself on alto sax and 2 harpists.

    As it later would transpire, John was offered the opportuinity to pursue writing the score to Michael Antinionni's Blow Up which he turned down citing reasons to do with it not being a film that was suited for him not to mention being quite busy with other offers during that time.

    Ironically, Blow Up was very sparing in the use of music as well as Herbie Hancock's score only appears fleetingly throughout and much of the music are cuts by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. So it goes to show that the best scores and composers are often significantly compromised due to the needs of the directors and films.

    More on this in my interview with John regarding his film scores on http://www.jazzorg.com

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