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From the very first films, to the first notes of "Eye of the Tiger" and the soaring scores of John Williams, music and film have always gone hand in hand. This year, we honor that tradition with a series of films that feature iconic artists and their work.
Our opening night film, Time is Illmatic, chronicles how Nas' 1994 Illmatic album changed the game in hip hop, and Nas was even there to perform the entirety of his iconic album. Closing out TFF 2014 is Begin Again, John Carney's film about a talented singer and the indie music exec who is drawn to her raw talent. And of course there are the film-and-concert premieres of Keep On Keepin' On and The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir as well. Start to finish, this year's festival is filled with musical inspiration, so here's our curated playlist and why we picked each song:
"N.Y. State of Mind" - Nas: The Queens-born artist opens this year's festival with Time is Illmatic. What better way to kick it all off than with this track from 1994's Illmatic?
"The World is Yours"- Nas: Also from Illmatic, "The World is Yours" showcases Nas' style, especially when it comes to mixing familiar jazz melodies with something completely new.
"Mi Limon, Mi Limonero" - Henry Stephen: This crooner's classic song plays a pivotal role in the young boy's life when his grandmother teaches him the tune. To be a singer, he not only has to have the voice, but also the look, even if it means straightening his hair. The version on our playlist is a rendition by El Frenillo de Gauguin.
"Soul Bossa Nova" - Quincy Jones: The multi-faceted composer, musician, and producer dabbles in several genres, but got his start in jazz. Like many of his compositions, this one became a standard.
"Summer in the City"- Quincy Jones: Drawing in energy from the city that never sleeps, Jones' "Summer in the City" perfectly that old familiar feeling as the days get longer. Listen for some particularly Terry-esque riffs.
"Makin' Whoopee" - Clark Terry: The Man. The Myth. The Legend. Trumpeter Clark Terry is joined by fellow legend Max Roach on the drums for this composition, a perfect introduction to the prolific musician's vast body of work.
"Phalanges" - Clark Terry: After hearing these rapid notes and key changes, it's impossible not to recognize how truly talented Terry is, as a trumpeter and a composer.
"Ah-Leu-Cha" - Miles Davis: Davis adds his own flair to Charlie Parker's iconic song. Drawing influences from both Parker and Terry, as well as doing something new with a familiar tune, Davis' trumpet practically speaks.
"Salt Peanuts" - Miles Davis: The jazz classic shows the coming free form jazz movement with its deconstructed melodies and rapid note progression.
"Ain't It Funky Now" - James Brown: If you ever doubted the showmanship of James Brown, just listen to this track. With a few repeated phrases and that characteristic "umph", James Brown proves just how funky a groove can get.
"I Got The Feelin'" - James Brown: Just try not to sing along. I see you dancing in your chair; it's just so irresistible. Each "baby, baby, baby" serves only to make us love him more. He knew how to spread that feelin'.
"Street Fighting Man" - The Rolling Stones: The Stones famously drawn on funk, blues, and soul records in their special brand of rock. Just listen for the guitar riffs. "Street Fighting Man" shows how they were able to make it all work.
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" - The Rolling Stones: This track, with the repeated musical motifs and lyrical narrative, could easily be slowed to a blues tempo. Not only did it mark the honing of the Stones' style, but it inspired the art of so many.
"Sitting on Top of the World" - Grateful Dead: The world's most loyal fanbase rejoices. This track is a great tribute to not only the style of The Grateful Dead, but also their talent.
"Alabama Getaway" - Grateful Dead: A getaway indeed. The Dead emphasizes their allure with these particularly inspired riffs and tongue-twisting lyrics.
"Is It My Body" - Alice Cooper is unlike anyone else before or after. Have you got the time to find out who he really is? Cooper wants to know. Until then, he's got his music to back him up.
"Poison" - Alice Cooper: A true showman, Cooper gives everything to this song. I promise you'll be singing along by the end of the first verse.
"Human Behavior" - Björk: With style all her own, Björk expertly mixes a familiar 60s beat with her ethereal vocals. As she sings, it's "ever-so satisfying".
"Venus as a Boy" - Björk: A clever mix of a seemingly simple back beat and Björk's soaring lyrics characterize this track.
"Astronaut" - Amanda Palmer: The ever-changing Palmer shows off her piano skills in this pop rock tune, but it's the stripped down vocals at the end that show off her vulnerability.
"The Sun" - Maroon 5: This song from the band's first album reminds us what we like about Adam Levine's voice. Listening to this, it's easy to imagine him as a newly discovered indie artist in Begin Again.