‘Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris
Autumn 2008 Documentary series
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 7:00pm
Directed by Raymond De Felitta
Screenplay by Raymond De Felitta
Starring Harlan Ellison, James Moody, Billy Taylor, Billy Vera, and Barry Newman
Rated NR ·
In 1991, Raymond De Felitta was listening to a Jazz station and heard a singer by the name of Jackie Paris. Entranced by his style and technique, De Felitta began researching Paris. He learned Paris had opened for Lenny Bruce, that his voice was admired by among others, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole and Sarah Vaughn. However, his research abruptly ended when he read in The Biographical Dictionary of American Music, that Paris had died in 1977. De Felitta thought that was the end of the story but one night in March of 2004, he was reading the New Yorker Magazine and saw an advertisement listing Paris’ comeback at the Jazz Standard. Stunned, he wondered where had Paris been all these years, what had come of his life and why had a singer of this talent fallen into such obscurity.
‘Tis Autumn – The Search For Jackie Paris is not just a documentary about a great but unheralded jazz singer. It’s a film that explores the very nature of what it is to live the life of an artist–any artist. Filmmaker Raymond De Felitta examines the life of cult favorite jazz singer Jackie Paris, but at the same time he might as well be exploring the life of any artist in any discipline, too many of whom share the same fate that Paris did; the explosive debut followed by the years of ups and downs, the constant hope that success, though out of reach, is around the corner, the private tragedies that grow out of artistic frustration, and the final, self-inflicted wounds which all too often cause the once promising to descend into bitterness and chaos, a prelude to vanishing completely.
Working with rare found footage and new interviews with jazz legends such as Billy Taylor, George Wein, Mark Murphy and Ruth Price, as well as the final concert footage and last interviews Jackie Paris ever gave –- De Felitta constructs an emotional mystery story which asks the question, who or what is to blame when a great talent goes from sensation to footnote during their life span?