‘Brilliant’ – Glasgow Film Festival
GFF: No One But Me – Sunday Herald view
No One But Me
GFT, February 21, 5pm
It takes a quite incredible life story to link Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lenny Bruce and Jimmy Logan. However, as this screen portrait undeniably proves, Annie Ross has lived that incredible life to the full. This BBC Scotland/Creative Scotland-backed documentary is much more than a TV talking heads effort: as well as its interviews with the 81-year-old singer’s jazz collaborators, it contains fascinating archive footage (from post-war Glasgow to jazz-era Paris) and a cinematic style that uses beautifully photographed cutaway shots to atmospherically evoke locations as diverse as the car-choked streets of New York and the free-flowing burns of Fintry. At the film’s centre, of course, is Ross herself. If there are gaps in her biography as she tells it, well, think of the film as jazz itself: sometimes the material that’s played matters less than the interpretation the artist brings to it. In that regard, Ross, one of the most rhythmically astute jazz singers ever, is a magnetic presence who still knows how to get the best out of every note.