Play Your Own Thing: A Story of Jazz in Europe
Play Your Own Thing: A Story of Jazz in Europe (EuroArts)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 26, 2008
Play Your Own Thing: A Story of Jazz in Europe(EuroArts)
Europeans have long held a fascination with jazz, lavishing American genre giants with a respect often denied them at home. This thoughtful documentary traces the development of European jazz from World War II, when American troops brought swing music to the Continent, through the free-jazz movement of the 1960s and 1970s to the signature European sound of Manfred Eicher's ECM label. While there's priceless, if all too short, performance footage from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, and Don Cherry, the bulk of the film is filled with commentary and performance videos of European musicians, including Norwegian Jan Garbarek, Austrian Joe Zawinul, Italian Enrico Rava, and Pole Tomasz Stanko. The overriding issue for these musicians is how to take an African-American art form and, through their European experiences, transform it into a broader language of jazz that's uniquely their own.