Sunday, 2 February 2014

Monterey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years (1998) / Aron Ranen shoots documentary for Clint Eastwood.

I started tidying up some of my Eastwood files tonight (a continuous job) and discovered a nice little piece by Aron Ranen. Ranen worked as Cameraman on the 1998 documentary Monterey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years. I can’t tell you when I originally discovered this piece. I often find something of interest or a nice photo and file it away – only to rediscover it years on. So expect more ‘random’ postings like this from time to time! Anyway - it’s good to include it here on the Archive for reference purposes and of course, a good excuse to post a damn nice photo! Firstly, a short piece on the documentary. 

Monterey Jazz Festival - Place Miles first on the bill. He wants those "fresh ears." And how about the time Jon Hendricks stepped on stage still jotting down the composition he was to perform? "Aren't you ready" musical director John Lewis asked. "Never" Hendricks laughed. Yet the result was perfection in progress: the legendary debut of Evolution of the Blues. And what about Ella, Louis, Dizzy, Sarah, Dave, Monk, Clark Terry, even Lady Day? They're also part of the lore that one weekend every year makes Monterey synonymous with jazz. Hosted by contemporary favourites Joshua Redman and Patrice Rushen and featuring archival performance footage plus on-camera commentary from notables (including lifetime jazz buff Clint Eastwood), this compendium of the Monterey Jazz Festival sings, swings and syncopates with joy. Director: William Harper, executive producers Clint Eastwood and Danila Koverman. 80mins. 

Cameraman Aron Ranen shoots documentary for Clint Eastwood: The dream gig! 

Just want to share with you the great experience I had this weekend as the Cameraman for Clint Eastwood's documentary on the Monterey Jazz Festival. He is a really nice man and actually showed me a lighting trick that looks beautiful. Bill Stafannaci was my audio guy; we had two mixers, three wireless mics, a Boom pole with two nice directional mics. I shot with the Panasonic SDX900. Format was DVCPRO50, frame rate 24P, and 16X9. For Lighting I used my usual Lighting items, plus a JOKER, which is a portable HMI. An HMI is a light that puts out the colour temp of roughly 4000-5600K. It acts like a piece of the sun; you use it outdoors as a fill or key light. You do not have to put Blue Gels on an HMI, they are already naturally that colour temperature. It looked great. 
Clint with Cameraman Aron Ranen
The job was a jazz lover’s dream, armed with a full access backstage pass we went from shooting Oscar Peterson and Eastwood backstage, to dress rehearsals with Dave Brubeck, working out his new original jazz piece, Cannery Row. Mr. Eastwood did a few casual interviews, and some nice moments came from these. He is truly a genuine, nice person. I feel lucky to be asked to do this for the second year in a row. Don't tell him...but I would have PAID to do this gig!

An accompanying audio collection was also released on a 3 CD set. Clint served as Executive Producer and contributed to the Liner Notes. It was released on Malpaso/Warner Bros. #46703 on September 9, 1997, Duration 3 hours 21 minutes. Here’s an original review by Scott Yanow:

This fascinating three-CD set has 28 performances (all but the Billie Holiday number were previously unreleased) taken from the Monterey Jazz Festival and programmed in chronological order. Starting with Dizzy Gillespie playing an unaccompanied version of "The Star Spangled Banner" that opened the very first festival and progressing up until the 1996 edition, there are many memorable selections. Billie Holiday is assisted by Gerry Mulligan on "Fine and Mellow." Mulligan and Art Farmer team up for an excellent version of "Blueport" that almost but not quite reaches the heights of Jeru's 1960 big-band version. Thelonious Monk is heard in 1964 playing "Straight No Chaser" with a workshop group; there are solos by his longtime tenor Charlie Rouse and altoist Buddy Collette, and a long one by trumpeter Bobby Bryant. In one of their earliest meetings, Dizzy Gillespie (still in his prime in 1973) teams up with 20-year-old trumpeter Jon Faddis on "Manteca." Count Basie's band (with trombonist Al Grey) sounds inspired on "I Needs to Be Bee'd With," as does Joe Williams, who sings the full-length version of "Goin' to Chicago." Wynton Marsalis in 1983 reinvents Thelonious Monk's "Think of One," while Sarah Vaughan sounds typically miraculous on "If You Could See Me Now." The colorful release ends with four outstanding tenor solos: Sonny Rollins on the cooking blues "Keep Hold of Yourself," Bob Berg taking a strong cadenza on "I Loves You, Porgy" with Chick Corea, Joshua Redman having a good time on "Home Fries," and Craig Handy emerging as the main voice on Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island." Recommended. 

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