Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Search for Jackie Paris

Last night, we saw the documentary film "'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris" at Cinema Village on 12th Street & University Place.

It's the story of jazz singer and guitarist Jackie Paris (1924 - 2004), a native of Nutley, New Jersey. Paris was considered a great "singer's singer" in the '40s and '50s but never found the stardom of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett.

In his heyday, Jackie Paris toured with Charlier Parker, recorded an early version of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight," and was a favorite of Charles Mingus and Peggy Lee. He also recorded a version of "Skylark" that seems less cheesey than the treatment that tune usually receives.

In addition to trying to explain why his career as a singer and guitarist never took flight, the documentary looks at Paris' personal and familial relationships and, in doing so, provides another example of a conflicted artists' life of that era.

I had never heard of Jackie Paris prior to seeing this documentary. I'm glad I now have. He was a cool character.

An aside: As a native of Washington County, Pennsylvania, it was hard to watch this film without making comparisons between Jackie Paris and Canonsburg's Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.

No comments: