When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr. Kinsky, an eccentric English pianist and composer. She lives in one room of his Roman palazzo. He besieges her with flowers, gifts, and music, declaring passionately that he loves her, would go to Africa with her, would do anything for her. "What do you know of Africa?," she asks, then, in anguish, shouts, "Get my husband out of jail!" The rest of the film plays out the implications of this scene and leaves Shandurai with a choice.
After ten years away, Jacques Pruez, an unmarried, 50-year-old, modestly successful actor, returns to his home village to comfort his dying mother. His father Yvan, a family barber who's counting on his "successful" son to support him in his old age, refuses to believe that his wife is sick and insists that her doctors are killing her. She dies, and Jacques finds out that Yvan is not his real father. Besieged by memories of his childhood, the village and the past, Jacques wanders the streets at night, reliving the moments that set him apart from the rest…
Trumpeter Dave Douglas has participated in so many styles of music that listing them all would be mesmerizing. Some of his best work has been performed in free style and hard bop jazz groups. Here, he charts a different path, albeit one that he has pursued successfully before, in a mellow, lovely vein. Douglas is the only horn, backed by Guy Klucevsek's eclectic accordion, Mark Feldman's gloriously sweet violin, and Greg Cohen's acoustic string bass. With some exceptions, the dynamics are generally low, the tempos slow, and the mood serene. There is almost a post-minimalism to it all, capped by the exquisite sound of Douglas' trumpet.
Thigpen has a deft hand on the drums, and this live set from the Copenhagen Jazz House in 1998 is good proof of his skill. Never one to grandstand, he puts the music first. His trio, with Carsten Dahl on piano and Jesper Bodilsen on bass, lays down some straightforward and pleasing traditional jazz, with nice original tunes by all members of the band.