Music: 12 Jammin’ The Blues

Adventures in Music

Lester Young

Animation is anything but an improvisatory medium. Every frame is painstakingly created by hand, hundreds of artists contribute to a single film, and the animators time the action down to a 24th of a second. Only the very best animators are able to overcome the constraints of frame by frame filmmaking and imbue their work with a feeling of spontaneity. Chief among these rarified breed of animators is Ralph Bakshi. I’ve written about him several times before, but it’s not just because he’s my pal. It’s because he is so unique. Ralph’s first three pictures, Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin are intensely personal- just like Lester Young’s sax solos. He accomplishes his results in the same way- by constructing his films as a real-time performance with virtuoso animators. Scenes are animated and laid down and another scene takes its place. The result might not be as polished as other animated films, and the narrative can become quite fragmented, but it’s a hundred times more honest than talking dogs and princesses.

Adventures in Music

“Jammin’ The Blues” 1944

“Jammin’ the Blues” may just be the most beautiful film about Jazz ever made. I don’t need to say anything more than that. You can find this short on a DVD titled Norman Granz: Improvisation.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

4 Responses to “Music: 12 Jammin’ The Blues”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActingPassion. ActingPassion said: MUSIC: 12 Jammin’ The Blues: Animation is anything but an improvisatory medium. Every frame is painstaking… […]

  2. Paul Badilla says:

    Beautiful film!

    I love the way the shapes play against the white and black bacgrounds.

    It reminds me the compositions Sergio Leone uses in his films.

    VEry appealing stuff.

  3. Pete Bangs says:

    Thanks so much for this. Lester Young was my first great hero when I discovered Jazz for myself off the back of my grandparents love of big bands. While I’ve heard many recordings of the great man over the last 30 years, it never occurred to me that there might be film, let alone film so beautifully produced.

    Thanks again

  4. Lester Young might be on the later part of the Ken Burns Jazz . I don’t remember if mention Bunk Johnson.

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