After watching Josh McLaughlin's part from 'Set For Life' on Free at the start of the week (if you haven't seen it yet, now's the time to do so), it made sense to look at other flawless pairings of skating and jazz.
Join us as we take a look at some of the most classic examples of jazz in skate videos as well as some tasty contemporary offerings. It takes a special kind of skater to be able to pull off skating to jazz, with its unstructured and improvised form helping to compliment skaters who can match the music's creativity; it's safe to say Olympic robots like Nyjah probably wouldn't be able to make it work.
Mark Gonzales - 'Video Days' (1991)
No list about jazz in skate videos would be complete without mentioning Gonz’s seminal part in Blind’s ‘Video Days’, set to the tune of ‘Traneing In’ by John Coltrane. The combination of Gonz’s unique, improvisational style perfectly mirrors Coltrane’s music, with his creativity bordering on the erratic. Realistically, if it wasn’t for this part we probably wouldn’t be talking about skating to jazz today because few people would’ve been able to introduce skating to the world of jazz as effectively as Gonz.
New York Section - 'Eastern Exposure 3' (1996)
Dan Wolfe’s ‘Eastern Exposure’ videos were easily some of the most important videos in promoting the East Coast scene by helping to shine a light on countless legends including Bam Margera, Mike Maldonado, Ricky Oyola, and Tim O’Connor. While the watchful lens of Dan’s camera was mostly focused on Philadelphia, Eastern Exposure 3 features an incredible New York section that’s picked with some of the all-time greats including Kareem Campbell, Keith Hufnagel, and Gino Iannucci. The black and white footage, long, flowing lines, and night clips already give the section a jazzy feel, which goes hand in hand with the music of Miles Davis. Despite being over 25 years old, it still stands up today with its raw street skating vibe and the timeless styles of all those featured. I dare you to watch this and not get hyped.
Jahmal Williams - 'Continuum' (2002)
Although his skating doesn't have quite the same feeling of spontaneity as Gonz's, the combination of Jahmal's buttery style, the rugged streets of New York, and the smooth jazz of John Coltrane really is a match made in heaven. It's no secret that Jahmal Williams loves a bit of jazz, given that he started out his Jenkem Mixtape with several jazz bangers, but it seems like jazz has played a pretty significant part in his life after he discovered jazz at an early age, even learning to play the trumpet before he became a pro skater. The part even starts out with a shot of a mural of a saxophone player.
Magenta - 'SF Hill Street Blues' (2011)
The Magenta boys say au revoir to their natural habitat of Bordeaux and make the pilgrimage to San Francisco to bring their unique brand of cruising to the hills of SF in their 'SF Hill Street Blues' video. Featuring three distinctly jazzy numbers accompanied by smooth, fluid lines through the precipitous residential neighbourhoods and dingy side-streets of SF, Magenta's uniquely creative outlook pairs perfectly with the jazz soundtrack.
Butter Goods - 'Charles Mingus' (2021)
While most of these videos are just skating set to jazz music, Butter's 'Charles Mingus' edit stands out due to it being a video that's entirely centered around jazz. Dedicated to the legendary jazz pianist, Charles Mingus - alongside Butter's collaboration with the musician’s estate to make a collection celebrating his work - this heavily stylised video starts out with a montage of black-and-white film clips, vibrant animations, and a voiceover from Mingus before the music and skating really start to kick in. Ben Gore leads the charge through the streets of SF with his Gonz-esque flow and creativity, before the rest of the Butter crew get into the swing of it (shoutout to the guy who just does a heelflip on flat and makes it seem like it was a line, respect). The skating, filming, and visuals all work hand-in-hand to create an aesthetic that perfectly captures Mingus’ music.
Stereo - 'A Visual Sound' (1994)
Tried to keep this mostly focused on individual parts and sections, but Stereo's 'A Visual Sound' is a flawless example of a jazz-oriented full-length video. Just a few years after Gonz's part in 'Video Days', Chris Pastras and Gonz's former Blind teammate, Jason Lee, released 'A Visual Sound', the first full-length video for Stereo which featured an exclusively jazz-based soundtrack, as well as distinctly jazzy visuals throughout. With exceptionally stylish skating from the likes of Mike Daher, Matt Rodriguez, and Jason Lee, this one's a true classic.
That's enough chit-chat though. Head to the shop to view the latest skateboard decks and clothing and buy now from CSC, or check out more Top 5's on the Blog. Safe.