Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Jazz Baroness

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival is underway, and as usual there are simply too many great films to squeeze into a family man's schedule. One movie that may drag me away from the changing table is The Jazz Baroness, a documentary on the life of Pannonica de Koenigswarter.

Born to the English branch of the Rothschild family, de Koenigswarter moved to New York in the early 1950s, took a suite at the Stanhope Hotel, bought a silver Rolls-Royce, and quickly became a fixture in New York's exploding jazz scene. She provided financial and moral support to John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Coleman Hawkins, to name just a few, and Charlie Parker died in her living room. Most famously, she was friend and lover to Thelonius Monk, who lived in her home from 1970 until his death in 1982. Amongst the many tributes to her in song, Monk wrote the tune ''Pannonica'', pianist Horace Silver wrote ''Nica's Dream'' and the saxophonist Gigi Gryce wrote ''Nica's Tempo.''

Critic Stanley Crouch wrote a typically smart and bitter appreciation of the film here. The Jazz Baroness screens once only, at the SIFF Cinema on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 pm. More info and tickets here.

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