New DVDs: Two by Oshima

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From the Criterion Collection comes a shiny new Blu-ray version of Nagisa Oshima’s 1976 “In the Realm of the Senses,” as well as his lesser known, more pessimistic follow-up, the 1978 “Empire of Passion” — a fable of sexual repression in the guise of a ghost story. Meanwhile, his screwball comedy variant on the theme, “Max, Mon Amour,” remains in cultural limbo. Ruminations in the NY Times.

180 comments to New DVDs: Two by Oshima

  • Alex Hicks

    Here come the pianists: Peterson, Tatum, Monk (“It’s always night or we wouldn’t need the light”), Powell, Evans, Brubeck, Basie….. Aznavour, Chico Marx, Astaire, Levant, Bugs and Daffy…

  • Johan Andreasson

    Monk, to Bob Dylan, after Dylan had told him he played folk music: “We all play folk music.”

    But Bugs and Daffy at the piano – what have I missed?

  • Barry Putterman

    Only in historical reconstruction is there such a huge gap between high and popular culture. Verdi or Rodgers and Hart? It’s all the same to me.

    Bob Wills is just the tip of the iceberg in western swing. Much more to discover.

    Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Jimmy Durante, Harry Truman….

  • Johan Andreasson

    Bugs and Daffy, Harry Truman … how will I ever keep up with American music?

    But seriously western swing is an ongoing project – even modern followers like Asleep At the Wheel is a delight!

  • Alex Hicks

    Yes, Bugs does an excellent rendition of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, in, I believe, “Rhapsody Rabbbit.” And Daffy confronts fellow fowl Donald Duck in a piano duel in Zameckis’ “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” though I can’t recall the pieices and confess to doubts as to the authenticity of a 1988 Daffy Duck.

  • skelly

    “How can you choose between Armstrong and Ellington?”

    Don’t – grab (if you haven’t already) “Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington: The Complete Sessions” it’s fantastic!

  • Johan Andreasson

    A 1988 Daffy Duck? Who wouldn’t be at least a little bit sceptical?

    Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington: The Complete Sessions – I’ll look ou for this, sounds great!

    Meanwhile, going back to the beginning of this very interesting thread I think I’ll listen to “Ai No Corrida” by Chas Jankel.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Oh, the things that happen when you just turn your back! I have been a jazz buff since I was maybe 14 or 15, which takes us back to around 1950 when I almost simultaneously discovered Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, Bechet, Young, Parker, Ellington — and do remember there were no CDs, no LPs, almost no nothing. It was in France, which made it even more difficult to listen to jazz.

    My most wonderful discoveries at the time: Ellington’s CONCERTO FOR COOTIE (with the almost equally wonderful BOJANGLES on the flip side); Wardell Gray’s amazingly perfect long solo on BLUE LOU on that Gene Norman 1947 live recording with Errol Garner (I still have the 78!); the same Gray with Dexter Gordon on THE CHASE; Just a little later, Stan Getz’s sublime DIAPER PIN, still very difficult to find today, as Garry Giddins complained not so long ago (I have the even rarer alternate take). I could go on and on and it’s totally off topic, but then I wasn’t the one who started the whole thing.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Barry P. Harry Truman? Oh, yes “I remember the night, and the Tennessee Waltz…”

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Going back, I find it very strange that anybody would suggest “choosing” between Armstrong and Ellington. It’s a bit like choosing between Bach and Mozart — no it’s worse. More like choosing between, I don’t know, Griffith and Ford?

    Why would we have to choose anyway?

  • Johan Andreasson

    Just trying to get things straight here: Wasn’t Truman about “The Missouri Waltz”, which he used to play on the piano at the White House.

    Otherwhise, off topic or not: Can’t get enough of jazz recordings to look out for: CONCERTO FOR COOTIE, how great is that!

  • Kent Jones

    I always thought that Truman hated “The Missouri Waltz,” and have a memory of seeing him on a visit to the White House in the late 60s, looking on with thinly veiled disgust as Nixon plunked away at “Missouri Waltz.”

  • Barry Putterman

    Yes, I know what you mean about turning your back Jean-Pierre. It all started innocently enough and before you knew it….

    Nobody was suggesting that we had to choose between Ellington and Armstrong. Just who got to be called “the ancestor.”

    Truman was more a punchline than a topic. Although the picture of him at the piano with Lauren Bacall sitting on top says more about jazz to me than a lot of records that I truly love. He did hate “Missouri Waltz” as I understood it. But he was stuck with it. And a lot of other things during his term in office.

    Anyway, after all of that Kubrick, a little improvisation makes for a nice change of pace.

  • Alex Hicks

    JUST WHEN ENTROPY SEEMED TO BE SETTING IN:

    “Like the characters of Tati or Antonioni or Resnais or Kubrick from the same period, Oshima’s rebels really just rebel against
    anonymity —only to find doppelgangers everywhere.” –www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/284

  • nicolas saada

    Well, Ellington is the master to me because he was both an incredible composer and a terric performer.
    In “Duke Ellington meets Coltrane” it’s as if Ellington was rejuvenating in the presence of Coltrane and Coltrane maturing with Ellington. And a week later Duke recorded Money Jungle… JP, well, I like Armstrong for Griffith and Ellington for Ford.
    Alex, you forgot Lennie tristano and John Lewis. Do you know John Lewis 1999 album called EVOLUTION? It’s just incredible. It’s one of the great piano albums ever.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Johan, “Concerto for Cootie,” recorded March 15 1940 (an incredible Ellington year with at least a dozen masterpieces put on record: “Jack the Bear,” “Ko-Ko,” “Conga Brava,” “Bojangles,” “A Portrait of Bert Williams” — just in the first half of the year!)is the non-vocal version of the song “Do Nothing Till You Here From Me” and was written indeed as a mini-concerto in three sections for trumpetist Cootie Williams. The record, which was not only perfect but quite new in concept, had an enormous influence on other bands (Basie’s superb “Fiesta in Blue” is clearly patterned after it). There have been several analyses of the record — the first I read, more than 50 years ago, was by French composer and jazz critic Andre Hodeir, and there is a very thorough one in Ken Rattenbury’s “Duke Ellington Jazz Composer”.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Jean-Pierre, a band doesn’t get much better than Ellingtons from the early 1940s. I’m also very fond of the recordings from the Cotton Club years like “Rockin’ in Rythm” and “Creole Love Call”.

  • Barry Putterman

    Johan, RCA put out a three disc Ellington set called “The Blanton-Webster Band” that will give you everything from 1940 to the recording ban. I’m sure that there must be some way for you to get it. You’ll never stop listening to it when you do.

    Won’t somebody put in a word for the still semi-neglected Jimmie Lunceford band? Hey, wait a minute! I just did!!

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Ten years ago I bought an Ellington set of 40 (forty) CDs covering the early period (1924) through to 1947. Not the Complete Ellington of that period by any means, but closer to complete than anything I had been aware of at the time. Copyright The International Music Company AG (a German outfit). It was ridiculously cheap (I think less than fifty bucks)but that’s the thing about those European reissues, the copyrights have expired in Europe and they can put out anything with very little expense.

    Barry, you’re right, the “Blanton-Webster Band” reissue has a lot of of the great stuff of that period.Although not all…

    And yes, the Lunceford band was great but it’s not neglected by real buffs. Only by people who’ve never heard of it.

  • dm494

    Barry, if you haven’t read it, you might want to take a look at Gunther Schuller’s book THE SWING ERA, which contains a highly appreciative section on Lunceford’s band.

  • Barry Putterman

    Yes, I have read all nine hundred plus blankety blank pages of Schuler and I still haven’t forgiven him for his obtuseness about Tommy Dorsey, who was the white version of Lunceford even before he hired Sy Oliver.

    I know that you, me, Jean-Pierre, and Gunther all appreciate Lunceford. But Ellington and Basie are rightfully household names and I still get plenty of blank stares when I mention Lunceford.

  • steve elworth

    One possibility of Lunceford’s obscurity is his early demise and there not being a real ghost band. Second is his lack of canonised soloists. One might listen to Ellington for Webster, blanton, cootie williams, hodges,etc. Basie is listened to for Lester Young, buck Clayton and the post war bands for Frank Wess, Thad Jones and AlGrey as examples. Willie smith and Trummy Young maybe great but they are just a part of the band. To bring up Lunceford, one should bring up the long career of sy Oliver’s replacement as trumpeter, arranger and composer, Gerald wilson who is in his tenth decade is still active and has recently released big band records with east coast soloists. His greatest records with a soloist full working west Coast band were in the 1960’s not sharing Lunceford’s connection with popular culture but one of the strongest of working sixties big bands with Basie, Ellington, Woody Herman, sun Ra and Thad jones-Mel Lewis.

  • Barry Putterman

    Good points Steve. Willie Smith was good enough for Ellington and Trummy Young was good enough for Armstrong in later years(and poor Joe Thomas got totally shafted) but it was the overall concept of the orchestra that really counted with Lunceford. And tat hislost prestige as bands gave way to combos in lter years.

    Also, Lunceford (and Dorsey) is based in ironic re-tellings of popular songs rather than jazz originals (although there are great jazz originals as well.

    As for Gerald Wilson, long may he wave!

  • nicolas saada

    Did not read Schuller’s book (he was also a great arranger, i.e Lewis sublime score for ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW). I wonder what he has to say about one of my favorite “white band”: Claude Thornhill.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Barry, I’m Nuts about Screwy Music, so praise for Jimmie Lunceford is welcome!

  • Barry Putterman

    Nicolas, just three pages on Thornhill, but positive–as they damn well should be.

    Johan, one of the disadvantages of jazz becoming high art is that it becomes more difficult for those of us who are nuts about scewy music to explain ourselves.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Nicolas, I’m glad you mentioned Claude Thornhill. I discovered his band rather lately in the eighties when the Affinity label ut out a two-LP collection of the band’s records. The arrangements(many by Gil Evans) were so ahead of their time, and he was the first to use french horns and a tuba in a jazz orchestra. Great influence on Miles’s so-called “Birth of the Cool” sessions, of course. And can you imagine another big band in the mid-forties playing such Parker tunes as “Donna Lee,” “Thriving on a Riff,” or “Yardbird Suite”?

  • Alex Hicks

    Why would considering Jazz a high art complicate like “screwy music” The Jazz genre as high art is just Jazz, like film, regarded as a form that CAN produce “high art,” not a genre form that requires high art accomplishment as a requirement for membership or that automatically certifies work that fit it as ‘high art.” Preferring Miles Davis and John Coltrane over Duke Ellington as representative of accomplishment in Jazz is not some snub of Ellington’s music, or big band music, as “good” or occasionally “high art,” though I guess it did, in my case imply a strong preference for the quintet and sextet forms over Jazz orchestras as the likely sources of great music or high art. This is not a rare view, as it is pretty commonplace to regard Jazz as improvisational and big bands (like scored composition), as thereby, largely self excluded from the true Jazz worlds, which starts for big band musicians in a smaller venue after the dancers have gone home and transforms the likes of Benny Goodman, great popular entertainer, into the improvisational Jazz artists – sometime very High indeed– of the likes of the Benny Goodman Sextet.

    Have to find myself some Claude Thornhill –and Jimmie Lunceford!

  • dm494

    Jean-Pierre, I’m not quite sure what you mean by “Parker tunes”–music in Parker’s repertoire or music that he wrote? I bring this up because “Donna Lee,” long credited to Parker, was in fact written by Miles Davis, as Gil Evans confirmed in the 1970s.

  • Ben

    Nicolas – “you forgot Lennie tristano and John Lewis. Do you know John Lewis 1999 album called EVOLUTION? It’s just incredible. It’s one of the great piano albums ever.”

    Agreed and agreed. The trinity of jazz piano for me, my three favorite “Ts”, are Tatum, Tristano, and Taylor. Lewis is right up there and “Evolution” is the proof. Good call!