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David Amram: The First 80 Years (2011)

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The life and times of Classical/Jazz/film score composer/conductor/jazz french hornist/world musician and Beat novelist Jack Keroauc's musical collaborator, David Amram.

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Adam Amram ...
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Adira Amram ...
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Alana Amram ...
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David Amram ...
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Larry Merchant ...
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The life and times of Classical/Jazz/film score composer/conductor/jazz french hornist/world musician and Beat novelist Jack Keroauc's musical collaborator, David Amram.

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The most famous man you've yet to meet!

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Documentary

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15 November 2011 (USA)  »

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$150,000 (estimated)
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References Splendor in the Grass (1961) See more »

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80 years of Amram's life in 92 minutes - never enough time
22 October 2012 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

David Amram is a true "renaissance man". Over the last 40 years I've seen him perform at folk festivals, in concert halls (conducting his own compositions – both classical and jazz), heard him read from the book he wrote about his years traveling with Jack Keroauc, and listened to the soundtrack scores he composed for "The Manchurian Candidate" (the original; not the recent remake) and "Splendor in the Grass".

It's odd that this is the first film about this musical genius. The film is only 92 minutes long but captures all the above-mentioned accomplishments and more using rare archival footage unearthed by Producer/Director Larry Kraman. The amount of 1950s television footage he found is great. The film revolves around two celebratory events that were held in New York City to celebrate Amram's 90th birthday. One was a large concert held uptown at Symphony Space; the other "downtown" in the "Village", where Amram lived for years, at the Cornelia Street Café. The latter even was more intimate. A special guest that night was jazz singer Kurt Elling.

Much of the narration comes from Amram himself in recent interviews. We learn about his family – He had his first child in his early 50s and the breakup of his marriage. We here him sing, play duets with a Native American musician and more.

Some of the recent camera work that Kraman captured with his hand-held camera is a bit jumpy in spots but he was capturing a moment that couldn't be repeated and this fits with the kind of loose improvised music that Amram often creates for fun.

I saw Amram perform at the Philly Folk Festival last year – jamming with both David Bromberg and Richard Thompson. He's in great shape and I'm sure we'll see more writing and composing from him in years to come. But, for now, Director Kraman has documented, and given us the pleasure, of Amram's FIRST 8 years.

Steve Ramm


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