Directed with dreamy-smooth camera movements, Fernando Trueba’s guided-tour documentary of Latin jazz features performers ranging from elegant pianist Eliane Elias to bleating saxophonist Gato Barbieri. The film covers an enormous range of geography (moving from New Jersey to Cuba to Stockholm) as well as musical styles, from Chano Dominguez’s spare piano chords to trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez’s funky bop, all of it inflected with Latin rhythms that slither over and under the melodies. If Trueba’s narration is a tad overheated (of pianist Michel Camilo he waxes: “Every time I see him play, I feel like I am witnessing a miracle”), his visual style is bracingly cool. Trueba shoots each performance against a single color (Gonzalez is suffused by a red background, for example; the great percussionist-bandleader Tito Puente is captured in front of a studio backdrop as snow-white as his hair). The result is a glowing rainbow of a tribute.

Calle 54
  • Movie
  • 105 minutes