It may have been underrated when first broadcast on PBS on consecutive nights in the fall of '03, but executive producer Martin Scorsese's homage to the blues is a truly significant, if imperfect, achievement. "Musical jou... more »rney" is an apt description, as Scorsese and the six other directors responsible for the seven approximately 90-minute films follow the blues--the foundation of jazz, soul, R&B, and rock & roll--from its African roots to its Mississippi Delta origins, up the river to Memphis and Chicago, then to New York, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Because the absence of lengthier vintage clips is the principal drawback of the series, Clint Eastwood's Piano Blues is the best of the lot; a musician himself, Eastwood simply lets the players play, which means we get extensive file footage of the likes of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Nat "King" Cole, as well as new performances by Ray Charles, Dr. John, and others. --Sam Graham« less
Russ R. (russtacean) from JEFFERSONVLLE, VT Reviewed on 4/8/2011...
Terrific fun for piano blues lovers
tkdawacs | CA | 03/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If your taste runs towards blues-based piano, watch this video. The "blues" title is (thankfully) used in the loosest, musically correct sense, and features blues, R&B, boogie woogie, jazz (Duke!), rock n' roll, and anything else that rolls up and down the blues scales. The video itself intersperses vintage footage with live performances. Musicians such as Ray (!), Pinetop Perkins, Dr. John, Jay McShann, and Dave Brubeck play next to an obviously awed Clint Eastwood. (It's worth the price of the video to watch the 70+ year old icon look like a 10 year old boy meeting his baseball heroes). There's no music theory mumbo jumbo; the music does the talking. Lots of playing, and occasional anecdotes coaxed out by Clint. About the only minus is the lack of start-to-finish performances. Great fun, definitely recommended."
S J Buck | Kent, UK | 09/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film by Clint Eastwood is the best blues Piano DVD out there. Can you beat Clint Eastwood talking to Ray Charles at a Grand Piano followed by beautiful (what looks like) 60's film of Ray playing "What'd I say". Then they discuss boogie woogie and theres some amazing archive clips of great Piano players I've never even heard of (Martha Davis in particular is astonishing).
Other great players featured include Dave Brubeck who plays some great stuff (which is blues influenced rather than pure blues) but I'm not complaining! Clint looks on in amazement... This leads onto a discussion of Art Tatum (again not really blues - but one the greatest players ever). A fabulous clip of Oscar Peterson absolutely smokin' from Jazz 625 is worth catching as well.
Back to the blues - Ray Charles plays a couple of choruses of great solo Blues. For purists Otis Spann is perhaps the highlight, a pianist who played with Muddy Waters. Here he is featured in a trio, playing and singing with great passion. Other well known artists featured are Dr John, Professor Longhair, Pinetop Perkins and Jay McShann.
This really is an eclectic collection, but I think theres something for everyone here. Jazz and Blues Piano fans will all enjoy this. "
Piano Man | Australia | 07/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Quite a good Documentary/Interview by Clint Eastwood. A great chance to see Clint in his real element, a frustrated Piano Player who couldnt quit his day job. For someone we are used to seeing so in command onscreen he seems at times nervous and obviously in awe of greats such as Ray Charles and Dr. John. Not a great facts and figures type presentation but fantastic to see more of the personalities dabble around on home and studio pianos telling Clint how they fell into playing and not a movie career.Some classic old footage used as reference only of the old school players and some re visited Prof. Longhair interviews. Not to be missed if you have Scorsese's collection."
Coulda been better Keeper
Phil S. | USA | 11/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Otis Spann, Professor Longhair, Marcia Ball...the august group list goes on and on. For the blues archivist, how about color footage of Fats Domino on the Mike Douglas Show in 1970? For Ray Charles fans, apparently one of his last filmed appearances, playing some early-career Blues, "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand". Clint Eastwood is the host, not exactly dressed for the occasion, and not really looking relaxed until he gets his chance to tickle the ivories. By cutting that mess out, we may have had room for Fats' complete performance. As one reviewer very astutely put, the clips are rare and beyond valuable to History and Culture, but they are mixed together with no real analysis of the diversities of style, and no programming "flow" - too much, too fast. The professional packaging aside, and the pretensions of the series aside, what we have here is a warm tribute to the Blues, with many, many segments on under-represented artists. Somewhere along the way, I saw Little Richard's name listed as part of the program. If his *music* is in there, I don't recall it. Richard did "Slippin' and Slidin' (Peepin' and Hidin')" on the above mentioned TV show that Fats' appeared on, and this uptempo would have been a perfect example of an old art form underlying a new art form. "
Me me and Piano Blues
Nikica Gilic | Zagreb, Croatia | 12/21/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This salad bowl, shisch-kebab and mumbo-jumbo documentary is absolutely amazing: it makes no effort to place Dr. John, Dave Brubeck, Fats Domino, Duke Ellington, or Pinetop Perkins in their respective contexts...
In the end, we get rambling and pointless conversations (sitting alongside Pinetop Perkins, Jay McShann or Ray Charles the interviewer should get something fresh out of them...) and some sensational archive footage; my favorite is the great Jay McShann's interplay with Big Joe Turner, and Otis Spann is also great... Monk also, but that footage I have already seen (actually, Monk is one of the very few artists at least moderately explained in their context).
There is a lot of great and creative music in this film, but performances are cut off precisely when they catch steem, and cross-cutting between various artists is neither artistic nor informative in the musical sense...
It is interesting to remember Wim Wenders' "Buena Vista Social Club" - a documentary equally selfcentred as is Eastwood's "Piano Blues", but at least Wenders was attempting to give structure and meaning to pictures and sounds of the music it depicts. By the way, Wenders' contribution to Scorsese's "Blues" series is far superior to Eastwood's (which I say with sadness - I like Eastwood very much and many of the people he deals with have my warm musical affection, others I would like to now more about...)."