Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2004. Vulcan Productions, Jigsaw Productions. Cinematography by Greg Andracke, Lisa Rinzler. Produced by Margaret Bodde, Alex Gibney, Jack Gulick. Music by Steve Jordan. Production Design by Tom McPhillips. Film Editing by Bob Eisenhardt, Keith Salmon. Toronto International Film Festival.
Any music fan will enjoy this one, but blues fans will be especially bowled over by Antoine Fuqua’s beautifully assembled recording of the 100 year celebration of the blues performed live in New York City. Telling the story of the blues from the beginning, it begins with music inspired by African tradition before moving into songs of the Depression and onwards, all brought to life beautifully by a rich assortment of performers including Bonnie Raitt, India.Arie (try not to get shivers when she sings “Strange Fruit”), the phenomenal Ruth Brown, John Fogerty, Macy Gray, Natalie Cole, Aerosmith and, naturally, the grand finale, B.B. King. Fuqua does a great job of incorporating story elements to tell tales of the blues, including material used during the actual concert as well as his own footage, but wisely keeps it brisk while focusing on the palpable energy of the performances. A wonderful entry in the rockdoc genre and an outstanding achievement by the director.