Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., April 3, 2009
'Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris(Outsider Pictures/Naxos)
Having read that "the greatest voice you never heard" had died years before, filmmaker Raymond De Felitta was shocked to discover that Jackie Paris was making a "comeback" appearance in New York City a decade later. A singer that toured as a vocalist with saxophone icon Charlie Parker and whose take on Hoagie Carmichael's "Skylark" is considered definitive, Paris, who died in 2004, tells his own story. Along the way we're treated to priceless archival footage from the 1940s through the 1970s and insightful commentary from jazz peers Dr. Billy Taylor, James Moody, and singer Mark Murphy. All can attest to Paris' exceptional voice, but they also hint at the foibles that might have held back his career. A thorny personality, anger problems, mismanagement, and plain old bad timing help explain why his career never flourished. Seen here late in life, Paris comes off as a genuinely empathetic but ultimately tragic figure. This fascinating portrait of a long overlooked jazzman contains bonus features that include extended interviews and filmmaker commentary.