I have watched this documentary two times it was so good. The great trumpet player Lee Morgan lived a life of many ups and downs. When he was just eighteen, Dizzy Gillespie hired him and Morgan became a featured soloist in Dizzy’s big band. Before the movie I only knew Lee Morgan from reading album covers and the Blue Note sessions, in particular John Coltrane’s Blue Train. I had heard of a rumor that Morgan was shot in a bar at a young age by his wife. You hear a story like that and your imagination just runs wild with scenarios – all fictitious.
I Called Him Morgan is inspired by a cassette tape interview of Helen Morgan, Lee Morgan’s wife. Besides the amazing trumpet playing and prolific music-making, what is refreshing about this documentary is that all the people interviewed are black; there are none of the usual erudite white jazz critics. Just about every person that was on the bandstand the night Morgan died is in the movie and is interviewed. Billy Harper’s and Wayne Shorter’s insights and emotions are particularly illuminating. The photos of the Blue Note sessions are incredible. In the end it is inspiring to see these incredible musicians all seemingly healthy and vibrant in their seventies and eighties.
Even if you do not like Tony Bennett, this documentary about the making of one of Tony Bennett’s duet albums is beautiful. The film features Bennett’s recording sessions with Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, and others. It is very informative for anyone who wants to live a long life, what are the qualities of the “good life.”
Jaco is a 2014 American documentary that depicts the life and death of jazz musician Jaco Pastorius. The film was directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak and produced by Robert Trujillo of Metallica and John Battsek of Passion Pictures. The film features interviews with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Carlos Santana, Jerry Jemmott, Jonas Hellborg, Bootsy Collins, and Flea. (from Wikipedia)
If you are a bass player and do not know who Jaco Pastorius is, you are not a bass player. Jaco redefined the bass. The movie Jaco gives a deeper insight into Jacos’s life, his family life, great footage of concerts and interviews and his tragic struggles with mental illness. We all miss this guy.
Two other great Documentaries NOT on Netflix
The reason you are reading this post is that you have a Netflix streaming account and are looking for movie suggestions, it is raining or snowing outside, and you just cannot get it up to go to church or the corner bar. Suffice it to say that the greatest music documentary of all time is not a music documentary but a boxing documentary called When We Were Kings about the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match in 1974 in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. What happens in the course of that event and the musicians involved is phenomenal.
And then there is the movie Muscle Shoals about an Alabama city that holds a prominent place in music history and the funky rhythm section that finally gets some recognition. But you are limited. You have Netflix streaming.