Gary Lucas plays The Golem

Just to show that jazz and rock musicians can come up with effective scores for silent films, here’s another great favourite of mine, jazz/experimental guitarist Gary Lucas, accompanying Der Golem (1920), which tells of a rabbi in medieval Prague creating a clay monster to save the Jews of the ghetto from annihilation. The score is by Lucas and Walter Horn, and Lucas’ interest in Jewish themes clearly informs his intense reading in this five minute extract.

Find out more about the music and the screenings that have taken place from Lucas’ website, which includes further sound extracts.

Dave Douglas and Keystone


In 2005 the jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas released a CD, Keystone, which had music inspired by and designed to accompany the films of Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. The CD comes with a DVD featuring Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) and ‘vignettes’ from Fatty’s Tin-Type Tangle (1915), with Douglas’ scores. I’m a big fan of his music, but though it is excellent its own, to be frank I thought it was a singularly insensitive attempt at accompanying silent film. It is always encouraging when rock or jazz musicians take an interest in silents and attempt a score, but too often they think that the film is accompanying them, when they need to be subservient to the screen – as any good silent film pianist will tell you.

That said, Douglas’ music is great of itself and the effort is to be applauded. And so, starting tonight at the Iridium in New York City, Dave Douglas and his Keystone band will be touring with a programme of modern jazz and early American silent film. According to the record company website, “each set will will consist of new pieces composed since the release of their Grammy-nominated recording, Keystone, on Douglas’ own Greenleaf Music label. The band will also reprise music heard on that release and perform along with short silent film comedies from the works of Roscoe Arbuckle, unfairly maligned director and star of the early film era. This will be a passionate and humorous evening of music and film.”

These are the dates for the rest of the tour:
04-22: Geneva, Switzerland – Alhambra
04-23: Paris, France – New Morning
04-25: Brno, Czech Republic
04-26: Basel, Switzerland
04-28: Stockholm, Sweden – Fasching Club
04-30: Malmo, Sweden – Jazz in Malmo
05-01: Koln, Germany – Kolner Philharmonie
05-02: Amsterdam, Netherlands – Bimhuis
05-04: Bray, Ireland – Improvised Music Company
05-05: Liege, Belgium – ASBL Jazz a Liege
05-06: Katowice, Poland – Gornoslaskie Centrum Kultury

You can hear audio file extracts from Keystone at