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Few cities in the world have a jazz lineage like New York. It was the home of stride piano in the 30s, the place where Duke Ellington popularized big band swing and became one of the first African-American icons. By the the 70s it had become an incubator for hip-hop, the nascent genre born from Jamaican sound-system music, spoken word and that glorious blend of funk and soul. Today, New York still pulses with jazz creativity and as one musician states in this film, any student of improvised music has a relationship to the city, treating it as a place of pilgrimage and ultimate challenge.
The Jazzed Out series takes jazz from the bars and the halls where it would normally mingle with the condensation and the energy at around the time of year, for the famous Winter Jazz Festival in Greenwich Village, and pulls it into living spaces. This fabulous film pictures some of the brightest talents on the scene in unusual locations – José James performs in a barbershop alongside a beatboxing Taylor McFerrin (the son of Bobby) for a singular version of "Naima" by the great John Coltrane. Elsewhere, the inimitable Mark Guiliana showcases his famous outfit Beat Music, demonstrating a touch of what became the soundtrack of the city in the Oscar-winning film, Birdman.