This is a contribution from Superheidi (Rotterdam Netherland).
I just found this, and it is amazing. No wonder, it's done by great documentary filmer Johan van der Keuken. It has a french voice-over, but that's okay (in case you don't understand it), just small bits.
Of course it is very 1960s. But I just like the daily stuff at home. His landlady, Ben putting on a Fats record and playing along with this Dutch street view in the background…
Big Ben – Ben Webster in Europe (1967) by Johan van der Keuken
Update: I had to replace the video because the one recommended by Superheidi disappeared on YouTube.
About the documentary (1)
In the late sixties, the American saxophone player and living jazz legend Ben Webster lived in Amsterdam for a year.
Webster, who was born in Kansas City in 1909, was a unique personality in the world of jazz and blues. In the thirties, he played with all the great names.
During his Amsterdam period, he stayed with an elderly landlady, Mrs Hardloper, with whom he appeared on a national talk show. In conversations with Van der Keuken, he muses on the past; on the fantastic experience of playing in the renowned Duke Ellington band; or on one of his best friends, who was so deft at eating with a knife and fork.
Short, fragmented remarks, which Van der Keuken has edited in a loose, improvised editing style.
Source: website of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (19/30 Nov 2014)
About Johan van der Keuken and the documentary (2)
taken from the description below the clip on YouTube:
Born in Amsterdam, Johan van der Keuken (1938-2001) was a Dutch documentary filmmaker, author, and photographer. His reputation has spread across Europe, especially to France. Yet, his work goes virtually unknown in Britain and the USA.
VDK's lifelong passion for music is highlighted in this portrait of jazz saxophonist Ben Webster. Big Ben is not a conventional portrait but an exploration. It is made up of biographical details, scenes of everyday life, and the joy and exuberance of the music contrasted to the violence of the world in which the black artist lives and takes his stand. We see Ben Webster in his surroundings — relaxing on a train, traveling on tour, visiting the zoo, talking to his landlady, and playing pool in a smoky bar.
The camera picks up and holds objects that might be excluded from a traditional television documentary, like the vase in the window of Ben's rented room. Yet this is not cinema verité. Any illusion of objectivity or any kind of “psychological” approach becomes shattered by the editing and cinematic rhythm. Until the end, we never see Webster play a number all the way through. The camera always interrupts him and cuts him short, until the end when it seems that the film no longer can contain him. The images constantly stress his size, his proportions, his physical presence, and the energy he uses to move and play. We seem to witness a struggle between the filmmaker and the musician. The filmmaker returns again and again to the ordinary aspects of life — smoking, taking a drink, swearing, being dignified or violent (suggested in the haunting zoo sequence by close ups of ferocious animal faces). The musician is always trying to do what he does best — play jazz. While the filmmaker undermines the “living legend” profile, the musician wins out. Finally we hear the tremendous sweet and powerful sounds given full rein. Van der Keuken's celebration is complete. The jigsaw puzzle is finished. ~ Cohn Chambers, Jump Cut, no. 34, March 1989
What do you think about the documentary? Do you like those posts?
PS. Let me know if you've found something you would like to share with the community.