450

Trying To Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon

By

Sign in to view read count
Jack Sheldon
Trying To Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon
Bialystock & Bloom, Inc./February Films
2009



Born in 1931, the near-legendary West Coast jazzman Jack Sheldon—trumpeter, singer, comedian, actor—has played and recorded with Stan Kenton, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman, Red Norvo, Bill Harris, Art Pepper, Anita O'Day and Tierney Sutton, as well as leading his own groups. His horn has been heard on movie soundtracks, he was featured on the Merv Griffin Show and had his own short-lived television series, Run, Buddy, Run. Sheldon has a large group of devoted friends: musicians (Ken Peplowski, Uan Rasey, Dave Frishberg, Bill Henderson, Terry Gibbs, Ross Tompkins) and famous non-musicians (James A. Baker, Billy Crystal, Clint Eastwood, Dom DeLuise, William Claxton) with anecdotes in profusion. Add to this Sheldon's irrepressible story-telling, his striving towards sobriety, dissatisfaction with his own playing (source of the film's title) and vulgar humor and anyone would assume that this would add up to a compelling film.

The performances included here show that Sheldon is a splendid mainstream trumpeter, lyrical and fleet-fingered. His singing is touching, his comedy lively. "Stardust," "The Joint is Jumpin,'" "Don't Blame Me," his own "(I'm My Own Worst) Enemy" and "It Had To Be You" are fine, moving jazz, even when the camera angles are unflattering. And what we learn of his insecurities and self-destructive behavior is revealing indeed.

But the film is often heavy-handed. When Sheldon mentions Carnegie Hall, we get a lengthy shot of it, as well as too much stock footage of California scenes. Worse, the documentary quickly feels like a celebrity roast with no enlivening sarcasm. Sheldon's friends ramble; only Frishberg, Peplowski and Crystal can tell a story. The documentary seems unedited but everything is offered in snippets, whether it's an anecdote or a song, as if someone thought the audience would be extremely impatient. Unfortunately, that prediction comes true. Only the most devoted Sheldon fanciers will be able to watch this in one sitting though there are rewarding segments throughout.

Production Notes: 89 minutes.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read La La Land DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "La La Land" DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl" DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Man of the World: The Peter Green Story" DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor