I discovered something new to get excited about – which I hadn’t heard of at all yet. It’s a new HBO2 documentary called The Jazz Baroness.
She was a beautiful British-born heiress from a powerful Jewish dynasty. He was a quirky African-American musical genius who helped pioneer the jazz revolution known as bebop. They met in Paris in the 1950s and were inseparable for the next 28 years, as she became a loyal friend and fiercely protective patron of some of the era’s greatest musicians. THE JAZZ BARONESS chronicles this unlikely, controversial relationship when it debuts WEDNESDAY, NOV. 25 (8:00-9:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO2.
The story in The Jazz Baroness is the one of Pannonica Rothschild (“Nica”) and the pianist-composer Thelonious Monk. The documentary is directed by Nica’s great-niece, Hannah Rothschild. Hannah Rothschild spent years researching her great-aunt. Apparently this was no easy task, because Rothschild’s family members did not want to talk about the member of their family, “who had so radically, some say eccentrically, reinvented herself”.
But this is a story that we should be grateful is being shared. Nica Rothschild is interesting in every tiny way. She was a woman who served scotch from a teapot, owned over 300 cats, helped battle racism in New York City and provided shelter, money and help to jazz players… Taking just one snapshop of her life is not enough. This was a woman with passion and generosity, with an exquisite life. And most of us, like me, have never heard of her.
This is not an instance where I’ll demand you watch this because “How could you not know Nica Rothschild!?” the way I once talked to someone about knowing Sylvia Plath. No. There is no judgment or pressure or even expectation. Watch this because you want to watch and because it’s something different that you haven’t seen. Watch this because it’s nice to appreciate the unknown. There are so many extraordinary people in this world. Turn your attention to Pannonica Rothschild on November 25th.
You can also catch The Jazz Baroness on HBO2: Nov. 29 (8:00 a.m.) and 30 (3:00 p.m.), and Dec. 3 (6:30 p.m.), 11 (7:45 a.m.) and 16 (1:30 p.m.)