© Rise and Shine Cinema

Music for Black Pigeons
Denmark 2022

Opening 21 Sep 2023

Directed by: Andreas Koefoed, Jørgen Leth
Writing credits: Andreas Koefoed, Jørgen Leth, Adam Nielsen

“Why do humans need music?” It seems like a simple philosophical question but in this beautiful documentary, Music for Black Pigeons, questions like this one are asked of these famous jazz musicians. This film pays tribute to these musicians and their music. It’s the first time for Danish directors Andreas Koefoed and Jorgen Leth to collaborate on a film together and they chose a very complex but artistic approach. In order to understand this very creative music, they interview the most famous musicians of our time.

The documentary takes us on a journey through existential questions on the theme of music and creativity. We see musicians such as Jakob Bro, Lee Konitz, Thomas Morgan, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Mark Turner, Joe Lovano, Andrew Cyrille, Palle Mikkelborg, Jon Christensen, Manfred Eicher, and Midori Takada behind the scenes, at home, while practicing, at recording studios or on stage while exploring their personal views of their life’s work .The mastermind behind the editing was Adrian Nielsen which provides a structure that feels like jazz. It truly feels like Music for Black Pigeons would not be complete without the talents of sound designer Peter Albrechtsen. So if you are interested in jazz, this film truly captures the masters at work as well as capturing several interviews of some who have now passed away. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

Second Opinion

According to Danish director Jørgen Leth his first film, Stopforbud (1963) about American jazz pianist Bud Powell serendipitously led to his being invited to a New York City recording session with Danish jazz guitarist Jakob Bro in 2008. Lee Konitz, jazz alto saxophonist and composer was there; Leth filmed, thus returning to the jazz scene over a period of 14 years. Music for Black Pigeons came into fruition through collaboration with fellow Danish documentarian director Andreas Koefoed (The Lost Leonardo, 2021).

In Avatar Studios, musicians arrive with easy comradery and commentary, “Jacob has a way of making everyone feel at home, comfortable” says American jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Bill Frisell plus “Jakob has wisdom and Lee keeps childlike things going … nothing to do with age.” Craig Taborn, pianist, organist, keyboardist, composer arrives, they set up, warm up, and in a field of dark to gray to white haired celebrated experimental jazz musicians their mellow rich chords and tones merge and spirit’s lift. The scope of the directors’ bond to their project incorporates journeying to Greenland, Western Europe, Japan and oftentimes Copenhagen. Leth and Koefoed commit to a deeper undertaking by seeking the reasoning guiding/leading the musicians in their creative endeavors.

American jazz bassist Thomas Morgan says playing music is like meditation … and a problem solver restoring balance in the music. American-born Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer Marc Jordan offers “…it’s a center, maybe looking for discovery,” while American saxophonist, alto clarinetist, flautist, and drummer Joe Lovano suggests, “When we play, we channel people that inspired us to play so Paul’s (Motian, jazz drummer, percussionist, composer) always present for me.” From German record producer/ECM Records founder Manfred Eicher, “Where you want to go and where you come from … very subjective thing.”

Jam sessions, live performances, inflight collaboration finishing a song – their intuitive interlocking rhymes and subtle eye-contact improvising, obvious is their profound passion and respect for a never-ending musical quest. Others interspersed throughout are Americans Mark Turner, jazz saxophonist and Andrew Cyrille, avant-garde jazz drummer, Danish Palle Mikkelborg, jazz trumpet player, composer, arranger, record producer, Norwegian jazz drummer Jon Christensen, and Japanese composer and percussionist Midori Takada.

Production values shine: assisting Dan Holmberg, Adam Jandrup and Andreas Koefoed were ten other cinematographers, Adam Nielsen edits brilliantly and designed creative titles with Jakob Bro’s all-encompassing music. Those pigeons have good taste, and musician’s good humor à la Andrew Cyrille, “they say age is mind over matter, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.” (Marinell Haegelin)

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