Bruce Ricker

Director/Producer

 

1942-2011

 

A high point in my 47 year career in the business of

entertainment is meeting, becoming a friend to, and

working close with Bruce Ricker, a true high point.

Bruce was an advisor to my Paso Digital Film Fest,

and worked close with me bringing his friend Clint

Eastwood to the Festival.  In addition he was an

associate producer on my documentary on Jimmie

Rodgers, and we had a few other ideas in the fire

between he and I and our mutual friend Chris Felver.

 

2011 PASO DIGITAL FILM FESTIVAL

WILL BE DEDICATED TO BRUCE AND

HIS FILMS...OUR LIFETIME AWARD

IS NOW THE BRUCE RICKER

LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

New York Times on death of Bruce Ricker

nytimes.com/2011/05/19/arts/music/bruce-ricker-

filmmaker-with-affinity-for-jazz-dies-at-68.html

 

Bruce Ricker, Benford Standley and Clint Eastwood

photo by Richard Bastian

BRUCE WILL BE MISSED...

www.rhapsodyfilms.com

visit his website and buy the DVDs...

 

 

Filmography of

Bruce Ricker

surf down page to his Bio

Martin Scorsese Presents

PIANO BLUES

A Film By Cling Eastwood

Produced by Bruce Ricker

 

 

Tribute by Heather McBride for the Festival Tribute to Bruce

Piano Blues

Dr. John, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Ricker...What a great

honor to have Burce part of our Film Festival ...Bruce has

been a close associate of Clint Eastwood, and served as

music consultant, producer and director with Clint on a list

of projects.

 

AND WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE HIM

AS A FESTIVAL ADVISER

  Director
  1. Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends (2007) (completed)
  2. Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That (2005) (TV)
  3. "American Masters" (1 episode, 2000)
        - Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows (2000) TV Episode
  4. Jim Hall: A Life in Progress (1998)
  5. Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall (1997) (TV)
  6. The Last of the Blue Devils (1980)
Music Department
  1. Mystic River (2003) (music consultant)
  2. The Bridges of Madison County (1995) (music consultant)
Writer---Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall (1997)
  Producer
  1. Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends (2007) (completed) (producer)
  2. Budd Boetticher: An American Original (2005) (V) (producer)
  3. Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That (2005) (TV) (producer)
  4. "The Blues" (producer) (2 episodes, 2003)
        - Piano Blues (2003) TV Episode (producer) 
        - Red, White & Blues (2003) TV Episode (producer)
  5. "American Masters" (producer) (1 episode, 2000)
        - Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows (2000) 
  6. Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall (1997)
  7. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) (producer)
    ... aka Straight, No Chaser (USA: short title)

 

Directed by Bruce Ricker

RhapsodyFilms.com

visit his website and buy the DVDs...

 

Bruce and partner Clint Eastwood

"It is a pleasure for the Harvard Film Archive to offer the first tribute to Rhapsody Films, the Connecticut-based distribution house which has preserved, and made available for exhibition, the most important collection of jazz films and videos in America. In the Rhapsody collection, you can groove on Bix and Bill Evans, Jim Hall and Phil Woods.  More, the African-American jazz experience is all here, from Basie, Bird, and Ben Webster to Archie Shepp and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.  There are vivid interviews and incisive oral histories.  Best, there are hours and hours of beautiful, sometimes otherworldly, jazz performances.  Black music which cries, “I am!” 

The person behind Rhapsody Films is Bruce Ricker, a jazz-mad New York attorney who, between days as president of his company and round-midnights at the clubs, has directed and produced astute music documentaries.  We thank Ricker for allowing the HFA a free hand to mount a retrospective of highlights from the Rhapsody Films collection.  Happily, Ricker will be in residence for many of the screenings. 

Finally, we thank that fantastic actor and filmmaker, and the most learned of jazz fans, Clint Eastwood, for making available to the Harvard Film Archive his private 35mm prints of Bird, The Last of the Blue Devils and, Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser.               FROM  THE HARVARD FILM ARCHIVE

          Bruce Ricker- Biography 

On September 12, 2007, TONY BENNETT: THE MUSIC NEVER ENDS ran on national television as an AMERICAN MASTERS documentary on PBS. This was the fourth documentary directed and/or produced by Bruce Ricker that has such wide distribution in the past seven years. These documentaries are wide ranging studies in American culture and features such artists as CLINT EASTWOOD, MERYL STREEP, GENE HACKMAN, MORGAN FREEMAN, RAY   CHARLES, THELONIOUS MONK, PROFESSOR LONGHAIR, DUKE ELLINGTON, COUNT BASIE, DAVE BRUBECK, BUDD BOETTICHER, JOHN WAYNE, QUENTIN TARANTINO, RANDOLPH SCOTT, ED HARRIS, MEL BROOKS, ANTHONY HOPKINS, ALEC BALDWIN, FRED ASTAIRE, FRANK SINATRA, HARRY BELAFONTE, COLE PORTER, and HANK WILLIAMS.

Bruce Ricker was born on October 10, 1942 in Staten Island, New York. During his early years, Ricker went from listening to Martin Bloch, The Make Believe Ball Room to collecting 45s of the heralded Singing Groups such as the Spaniels. At a teenager, he was at the Alan Freed shows and came upon the likes of Bo Diddley.He attended City College of New York and was spending his time at Birdland, the Five Spot and the Half-Note discovering the genius of Tito Puente, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.  Concerts included Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Thinking that he wanted to write the Great American novel, Ricker formulated a study plan that resulted in one of the first degrees in American Studies and graduated with a B.A. in 1965. While attending City College, he was also employed as a police cadet for the New York City Police Department for three years. (The present Police Commissioner, Raymond Lynch also served in a similar position during this time period.) 

Upon graduation, he  worked at General Artists Corporation in 1965 as a talent agent trainee but soon decided that he wanted to be a lawyer. Switching jobs, he worked as a caseworker for the Social Services of the City of New York and attended Brooklyn Law School at night.  He received a J.D. in 1970. During this time period, he also worked on a literary magazine, THE PROVINCETOWN REVIEW under the guidance of the late Seymour Krim and apprenticed himself in the worlds of Norman Mailer and Willem de Kooning. 

Ricker then decided to attend the University of Missouri- Kansas City to earn a Graduate Law Degree in Urban Studies and received a teaching fellowship at the law school. After the first post-graduate year he realized that he should start practicing law. He passed the New York and Missouri Bar exams and began in private practice in the fall of 1971 in Kansas City, with Russell Millin, an ex-U.S. Attorney. 

In 1973/1974, he discovered that Jay McShann, the great jazz legend was residing in Kansas City. With McShann’s approval and guidance and the financial help from Shakespearean scholar, Norma J. Fisk, Ricker began shooting footage in 1974 and 1975 that became the basis of the documentary, THE LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS, The KANSAS CITY JAZZ STORY. At that moment, (1975), having difficulty raising funds for completing the movie in Kansas City, Ricker moved back to New York City, was admitted to the New York Bar and eventually finished the BLUE DEVILS in 1979. 

THE LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS was a critical success, praised by Roger Ebert et al, and shown in every major film festival in 1979/80.   In 1980, he was fortunate to meet Christian Blackwood, who had shot rare footage of Thelonious Monk in 1967/68. Joining forces with Charlotte Zwerin, (co- director of GIMME SHELTER) they embarked on a new documentary, THELONIOUS MONK: STRAIGHT NO CHASER. This documentary was finally completed in 1988 with the help of  Eastwood as Exec producer. 

In 1982, Ricker started Rhapsody Films, which would specialize in the making and distribution of jazz and blues films. Eventually, with the advent of the home video market, it would soon release documentaries featuring, BILL EVANS, SUN RA, CHARLES MINGUS, COLEMAN HAWKINS, et al. He also programmed a Jazz Film Series as part of the Greenwich Jazz Festival for many years. 

In 1987, Ricker began his relationship with Clint Eastwood. Eastwood came upon THE LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS in his research for his feature film, BIRD. Apart from finding the financing for the MONK film through Warner Bros., he also arranged for Warner Bros. to release the BLUE DEVILS in France. (In 2007, it was revived for a new theatrical run in Paris) 

Bruce Ricker, Benford Standley and Clint Eastwood

photo by Adam Hood

 

Clint Eastwood, Joshua Redbone, Lennie

Niehause and Bruce Ricker

 photo by Hank O'Neal

Twenty years later, Ricker and Eastwood have accumulated a body of work that includes: 

CLINT EASTWOOD PRESENTS -TONY BENNETT: THE MUSIC NEVER ENDS- Documentary (2007) Director/Producer-for NETFLIX/American Masters-PBS/Warner Home Video

BUDD BOETTICHER: “ A MAN CAN DO THAT “ (2005) Director/Producer- Documentary about movie director, Budd Boetticher for Turner Classic Movies and Paramount Home Video-Clint Eastwood- Executive Producer,

CLINT EASTWOOD’S PIANO BLUES (2003) Producer- PBS and Sony Home Video-PIANO BLUES Soundtrack- Sony Records-Producer,

MYSTIC RIVER- (2003) Music Consultant-Warner Bros. Clint Eastwood-Director

 

Soundtrack- Coordinating Producer-Warner Bros. Records,

CLINT EASTWOOD: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (2000) Director/Producer-

American Masters (PBS) and Warner Home Video,

MUSIC FOR THE MOVIES OF CLINT EASTWOOD (2000) Executive Producer

Warner Bros. Records,

JIM HALL: A LIFE IN PROGRESS (1998) Director/Producer- Documentary about jazz guitarist, Jim Hall. Rhapsody Films Home Video

EASTWOOD: AFTER HOURS-LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL (1997) Director/Producer- Warner Bros. TV and Home Video-Soundtrack-Producer/Warner Bros. Records

THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995) Music Consultant-Warner Bros.

THELONIOUS MONK STRAIGHT NO CHASER  (1988) Producer

Warner Bros. Home Video

THE LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS- THE KANSAS CITY JAZZ STORY (1979) Director/Producer- Count Basie, Big Joe Turner and Jay McShann –Kino on Video 

Having just finished and released the TONY BENNETT documentary, Ricker and Eastwood are working on the following documentaries in various stages of development: DAVE BRUBECK: “In His Own Sweet Way” (now in production), and a documentary celebrating the life and work of FRED ASTAIRE.  

Other Rhapsody projects are Jazz Legends, BILL CHARLAP,   GEORGE WEIN, NESUHI ERTEGUN, and MAX GORDON and The Village Vanguard, Literary figures BRENDAN GILL, The New Yorker & JAMES LAUGHLIN, New Directions, and ELEANOR DUCKWORTH, Harvard University Educator. 
 

Bruce Ricker lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York City with his wife Kate Gill and his daughter, Emma.  

 

Clint Eastwood Producing Jazz Documentary
by Monika Bartyzel

"The ol' Dirty Harry is taking a break from his heavy material to get his jazz on. Clint Eastwood has taken the lead to produce a documentary about U.S. jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. He's topping that by chairing an honorary board for the musician's legacy, which also holds the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Quincy Jones and even Mr. Star Wars George Lucas. Brubeck, who is in his 80s, used improvisational and classical roots to influence his jazz style, which has resulted in a number of standards that include "The Duke." In the words of Eastwood himself, "Dave Brubeck is an American legend."

The jazz legend's story, currently titled Dave Brubeck -- In His Own Sweet Way, will be documented by Bruce Ricker, who will direct and produce the doc. The film will cover the musician's career from its starts to his recent work that premiered at  the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2006. If you're not familiar with Eastwood's music-oriented projects, he's already paired with Ricker for docs on Thelonius Monk and the Blue Devils. But have no fear, if those aren't to your liking, there's one more already in the works by the doc duo. You can "Put on a Happy Face," because they've also got Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends that has been released. If Eastwood and Ricker keep this up, they'll become the Time Life of music biopics. Maybe they'll even have their own collector's series!"

 

 

805-400-1093

thepdff@gmail.com

 

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