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Diana Ross in “Lady Sings the Blues.” COURTESY MONTCLAIR FILM

In the run up to the 2018 Montclair Jazz Festival on Aug. 11, Montclair Film presents the “Portraits In Jazz: A Celebration of The Montclair Jazz Festival” program, showcasing four films profiling the lives and artistry of legendary jazz artists. The screenings will be at Cinema505, 505 Bloomfield Ave., at 7:30 p.m., preceded by performances by Jazz House Kids at 7 p.m. For more information visit montclairfilm.org.

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John Coltrane. COURTESY MONTCLAIR FILM

“Chasing Trane,” on July 28, directed by John Scheinfeld, a portrait of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane: “Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, Chasing Trane brings John Coltrane to life as a fully dimensional being, inviting the audience to engage with Coltrane the man, Coltrane the artist, an extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. Written and directed by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld, the film is produced with the full participation of the Coltrane family and the support of the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog.” 99 minutes.

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Sidney J. Furie’s “Lady Sings the Blues,” starring Diana Ross as  Billie Holiday, on July 29: “Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, Chasing Trane brings John Coltrane to life as a fully dimensional being, inviting the audience to engage with Coltrane the man, Coltrane the artist, an extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. Written and directed by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld, the film is produced with the full participation of the Coltrane family and the support of the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog.” 144 minutes.

Kasper Colin’s “I Called Him Morgan,” on Aug. 3, profiling the life of the trumpeter and artist Lee Morgan: “On a snowy night in February 1972, the 33-year-old jazz trumpet star

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Lee Morgan. COURTESY MONTCLAIR FILM

Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife, Helen, during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts the people who knew the Morgans. Helen served time for the crime and, following her release, retreated into obscurity. Over 20 years later, a chance encounter led her to give a remarkable interview. Helen’s revealing audio “testimony” acts as a refrain throughout the film, which draws together a wealth of archival photographs and footage, notable talking heads and incredible jazz music to tell the ill-fated pair’s story. Part true-crime tale, part love story, and an all-out musical treat, ‘I Called Him Morgan[ is a stirring tribute to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together.” 94 minutes.

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Ornette Coleman. COURTESY MONTCLAIR FILM

“Ornette: Made In America,” on Aug. 4, Shirley Clarke’s profile of the avant-garde saxophone icon: “‘Ornette: Made in America’ captures pioneering saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s evolution over three decades. Returning home to Fort Worth, Texas in 1983 as a famed performer, artist and composer, documentary footage, dramatic scenes, and some of the first music video-style segments ever made, chronicle his boyhood in segregated Texas and his subsequent emergence as an American cultural pioneer and world-class icon. Among those who contribute to the film include William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Buckminster Fuller, Don Cherry, Yoko Ono, Charlie Haden, Robert Palmer, Jayne Cortez and John Rockwell. Ornette: Made in America is essential for anyone hoping to understand the history of jazz and the fertile creative exchange that highlighted the 60’s and 70’s in America. It is a portrayal of the inner life of an artist-innovator.

 

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