Jazztown Movie Review

July 21, 2023

The opening shot of Ben Makinen’s JazzTown is the most appropriate that the director could find to put the viewer in the mood for his Film: if you are not familiar with the sound of musical instruments, it is difficult to see which one makes the first sound. It’s haunting, mysterious, almost conveys the feeling that you can get with the constantly broken boundaries of jazz music. A camera shows us a huge city in which we dive slowly and, of course, to the sound of a jazzy intro which can only mean that the journey will be exciting. The resonance of the first instrument always makes your bones vibrate. We are in Denver, Colorado, and it is an Underground company that recreates a beautiful style of music every day.

JazzTown is a great trip inside a city that knows its Jazz. However, this is not the most popular Genre of music, and few people actually understand it. Fortunately, Makinen does not go to music lessons. It’s more about the history of Jazz in Denver and the few remaining people who represent the true essence of the complex musical genre. As hard to hear as people say, movies like JazzTown work as introductions to a world where you can find something you can’t imagine. That’s the thing about Jazz: it represents something different for everyone.

Makinen’s Super Cup of the journey through the jazz scene is full of testimonies of essential characters to the world we are exploring. It gets a little repetitive, but he manages to stay fresh. The director’s approach is not to make a Film that works by itself. There is a story here that becomes very clear when Makinen decides to land and tell a story about the mechanisms of today’s Jazz. He asks the right questions and gets the right answers: it’s not like the Genre is dying. But every day, more and more people are separating themselves from the cultural landmarks that have shaped our current society. Jazz suffers from the Invasion of artificial art that is happening today and that is getting stronger day by day. In a very endearing note, one of the musicians interviewed says that he wishes Jazz to come back more about dancing and not so much about listening.

With this in mind, JazzTown is doing a great job of removing a stigma on Jazz. This is not a Genre that is suitable only for people who fully understand it. The documentary does not divide in this regard, creating this union between those who usually hear it and those who are just discovering. As another musician says: it’s to bring people together.

JazzTown ends on a melancholic note. The beginning was so mysterious that it immediately became interesting. But after making an excellent point about the current state of Jazz and its musicians, Makinen decides to incorporate the personality of the musical genre in the resolution of the film. Jazz has the ability to represent grief, sorrow and darkness. I can press for the stereotype, but Musical expression has a different effect on everyone, and for me there is no better way to end the Film than to recognize the spirit of such a stratified musical style.

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