Do you want to know what jazz is? This movie is the place to start.
Right off the bat, this film reminded me of John Cassavetes' Shadows. The Cry of Jazz, like Shadows, is an ode to 50's Beat-Era. However, Unlike Shadows, this film is an interesting mix of dialouge (very cheesy) and documentary.
The Cry of Jazz is a deep look into what jazz actually is and its metaphoric relationship to it's creators, Blacks in America. Interestingly, it was made before the civil rights movement. The ideas and thoughts expressed by the main character/ narrator Alex were the seeds of the civil rights movement. In my opinion this film is a historically significant picture and should be added to the United States National Film Registry.
One thing I found VERY INTERESTING was that Alex proclaimed Jazz dead. I had no idea that Jazz was proclaimed dead before Rock and Roll and even Hip Hop. I wonder if the rapper Nas has seen this film and equated the reasons Alex gave to Jazz being dead to Hip Hop's current state. Alex states, "Jazz is dead because the Negro needs more room to tell his story.... JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ! Jazz for all it's power, beauty, and world domainance is too limiting! It's a genteel slavery!." Later he states, "The Jazz body is dead but the spirit of Jazz is Alive... The spirit of Jazz will remake serious music but the sounds of Jazz will not be used." With this statement I believe he foresees Hip Hop Culture. Perhaps the rapper Nas realizes the same thing with Hip Hop in its current state.