There seems to be a trend at QFEST this year of films with jazz soundtracks and in each case an essential part of recreating cinema verite and fantasy. The all-star soundtrack for Tamra Davis’ brilliant documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat The Radiant Child, included tracks and performance footage of Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker and audio tracks from Miles, Mingus and Monk throughout the film. The film is built off of an incisive video interview Tamra filmed of the artist two years before his death from a heroin overdose. Davis not only gets to the essence of the artist and the man, Basquiat himself showed the influence of these musicians, and their importance to him as a black artist, in his work.
Even though Basquiat started as an abstract musician with his art group Gray, out caging John Cage with electronica funk at galleries, Basquiat’s heart and soul were involved with jazz. He said bebop was his favorite and that same cool, intensity pulses in much of his work. The reclaimed hipster downtown Manhattan echoes the cool jazz era and private film of Basquiat at the forefront of that scene is vividly captured.