Jazz on Film: Sixties Jazz Films by Dick Fontaine

The Jazz on Film series continues with Sixties Jazz Films by Dick Fontaine, a trio of short films made between 1966 and 1968 by documentary filmmaker Dick Fontaine. He captures interview and performance footage of four of the most adventurous musicians of the time: Ornette Coleman, John Cage, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sonny Rollins. Of the three films, Who Is Sonny Rollins? may be the most interesting, as it finds the sax giant (now 83 and still touring) during one of his several reclusive periods. Who Is, made in 1968, shows him playing with Harlem-area students, in the countryside and on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York, a site that looms large in his story and where he would practice nightly. “I’ve always been fascinated in Sonny because he was one of those people who is capable of saying no to what he was ‘supposed’ to do,” Fontaine told the website musicfilmweb.com recently. “By doing that, he has carved out his own space, and he’s won the game, in the sense that he’s survived, which many of his colleagues did not.”

David, Moffett, and Ornette (from 1966) shows free-jazz innovator Ornette Coleman working with his mid-1960s trio in Paris as they score a film, while Sound?? (1967) shows footage of two very different musicians, the experimental composer John Cage and jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

5 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, 713‑639‑7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Sun., June 22, 5 p.m., 2014

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero