Film Review: Bird Is Dead! Long Live Bird!

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Claire Scarbeary

The “jazz renaissance” of the 1980s, which found well-tailored young scholars bopping for the masses, is a sore subject for many of today’s fledgling improvisationalists, who resent being saddled with genre labels and historical expectations. This evocative documentary gives some of the most adventurous among them a chance to vent, verbally and musically. Listening to riffs from the likes of guitarist Bill Frisell, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and pianist Matthew Shipp–who implores us to “fuck Bud Powell”–will leave music lovers exhilarated by the soulful, funky stuff bubbling up from the underground and convinced that jazz is still a refuge for the rebellious.

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