The Best Jazz Music from Movies

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A great way to enjoy some of the best Jazz music is from movies. In this blog post, we will list some of our favorite Jazz tracks from films.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – An Introduction

Jazz music has always had a special place in the movies. It can provide the perfect atmosphere for a scene, capture the feeling of a time and place, or just be a great way to get your toes tapping. Here are some of the best uses of jazz in film.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Classics

There are some classic Jazz pieces that have been used in movies over the years, and they have become synonymous with the films they appeared in. Here is a list of some of the best Jazz music from movies:

1. ‘Round Midnight’ from The Sheltering Sky (1990)

2. ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ from The Cotton Club (1984)

3. ‘Summertime’ from Apt Pupil (1998)

4. ‘My Funny Valentine’ from Rounders (1998)

5. ‘Take Five’ from Blow Out (1981)

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Moderns

Jazz music has been used in movies since the early days of film. Over the years, some of the best jazz music has come from films set in the modern day. Here are some of our favorites:

-The Blues Brothers (1980)
-Bird (1988)
-Round Midnight (1986)
-Mo’ Better Blues (1990)
-Kansas City (1996)
-Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Obscurities

We all know the classics – The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction – but what about the hidden gems? These are the movies that feature great jazz music, but don’t necessarily fall into the “classic” category.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Obscurities

1. Night and the City (1950)
This noir film features an incredible score by Russian composer Franz Waxman. The jazz music perfectly compliments the dark and seedy world of 1950s London that the film portrays.

2. Lola Montes (1955)
This French historical drama features a beautiful score by Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa. The jazz music is used sparingly, but to great effect, adding an element of excitement and glamour to the film.

3. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
This classic film noir features a brash and energetic score by Elmer Bernstein. The jazz music perfectly captures the fast-paced and dangerous world of 1950s New York City.

4. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
This classic courtroom drama features a cool and sophisticated score by Duke Ellington. The jazz music helps to create an atmosphere of suspense and tension throughout the film.

5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

This horror classic features a haunting and eerie score by renowned composer Kryzstof Komeda. The jazz music perfectly sets the tone for this creepy and unsettling film.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Soundtracks

Jazz music has been used in movies since the 1920s, when films first started incorporating synchronized sound. Jazz scores began appearing in films during the 1930s, and by the 1940s, jazz had become a staple in Hollywood filmmaking. Since then, some of the best motion picture soundtracks have been filled with toe-tapping tunes and heart-wrenching ballads crooned by some of jazz music’s most celebrated vocalists and instrumentalists.

Here are a few of our favorite cinematic jazz tunes:

1. “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca – Dooley Wilson
2. “Makin’ Whoopee” from Mickey One – Stan Getz
3. “Round Midnight” from Round Midnight – Herbie Hancock
4. “Moanin’” from The Dirty Dozen – Bobby Timmons
5. “Pick Yourself Up” from Swing Time – Fred Astaire
6. “Fly Me to the Moon” from In the Mood for Love – Joe Harnell
7. “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess – Miles Davis
8. “Take Five” from The Thomas Crown Affair – Dave Brubeck Quartet
9. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” from Young Frankenstein – Mel Brooks
10. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from Neptune’s Daughter – Red Norvo

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Live Recordings

This comprehensive guide includes the best live recordings of jazz music featured in movies. These classic performances are essential listening for any fan of the genre.

From the swinging big band sounds of the ’20s and ’30s to the bebop revolution of the ’40s and ’50s, jazz has been an integral part of American film for nearly a century. This guide features the best live recordings of jazz music featured in movies, including classics by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and more.

Whether you’re a diehard fan of the genre or just getting started, these classic performances are essential listening.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Documentaries

Movies and documentaries which feature great jazz musicians often show the creative process at work, and this can be fascinating and instructive for jazz fans. Here are some of the best examples:

The Blues Brothers (1980)
This movie features some of the biggest names in blues and jazz, including Ray Charles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and John Lee Hooker. The soundtrack is packed with classic tracks, and the movie itself is a hilarious tribute to both genres.

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)
This documentary gives an intimate portrait of one of the most important and influential figures in jazz history. Monk was a true original, and his unique approach to both music and life is captured beautifully in this film.

Bird (1988)
Charlie Parker was one of the most important innovators in jazz, and this biopic follows his life from his early days in Kansas City through to his untimely death at the age of 34. Parker was a troubled genius who battled addiction throughout his life, but his music continues to inspire generations of musicians.

Discovering Birdland (2007)
This documentary tells the story of one of the most iconic venues in jazz history – Birdland in New York City. The club was a mecca for many of the biggest names in jazz during its heyday in the 1950s, and this film features rare footage and interviews with some of the people who were there.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Educationals

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Educationals:

Some of the best jazz music has come from movies. Check out our list of the top 10 tracks.

1. “Round Midnight” by Dexter Gordon from “Round Midnight” (1986)
2. “Moanin’” by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers from “Moanin’ in the Morning” (1959)
3. “A Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie from “Birth of a Nation” (1961)
4. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck from “Blow Up” (1966)
5. “So What” by Miles Davis from “Sorcerer” (1977)
6. “‘Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk from “‘Round Midnight” (1986)
7. “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra from Hollywood Hotel (1937)
8. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Fred Astaire from Funny Face (1957)
9. “‘Sweet Georgia Brown'” by Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra from Sugar Babies (1980)
10. “(I’ve Got You Under My) Skin” by Frank Sinatra from The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Compilations

When it comes to great Jazz music, there are plenty of examples to choose from in movies. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best compilations of Jazz tracks that have featured in films over the years.

The first movie on our list is The Cotton Club (1984), which is a crime drama set in New York City during the 1920s. The film features an incredible soundtrack with some of the biggest names in Jazz music, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Coleman Hawkins.

If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson movies, then you’ll know that he often includes fantastic soundtracks featuring well-known musicians. One of his best-loved films is The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), which features tracks by artists such as Benny Goodman and Django Reinhardt.

Another great film with a brilliant Jazz soundtrack is La La Land (2016). The movie tells the story of a struggling musician who falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. The film’s score was composed by Justin Hurwitz and features songs performed by John Legend, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling.

So, there you have it – some of the best Jazz music from movies. Whether you’re a fan of old classics or modern blockbusters, there’s sure to be something on this list that you’ll enjoy.

The Best Jazz Music from Movies – The Honorable Mentions

When most people think of Jazz, they think of the smoky clubs of the 50s or the birth of Bebop in the early 40s. But Jazz has always been intertwined with film, from its earliest days as accompaniment to silent movies to its use in some of the greatest films noirs of the 40s and 50s. Here are some honorable mentions for the best Jazz music from movies.

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