Les Paul: Chasing Sound Documentary (1x90')

March 1, 2017

 Les Paul: Chasing Sound



Guitar wizard, inventor, architect of rock n roll…the legendary Les Paul tells his own rags-to-riches story in this feature-length documentary shot in HD. From his hometown in Waukesha to Chicago, Nashville, Hollywood and the National Inventors Hall of Fame, follow the life and times of this irrepressible superstar. Featuring a wall-to-wall soundtrack of greatest hits, American Masters – Les Paul: Chasing Sound! also includes interviews with B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Tony Bennett, Jeff Beck, Merle Haggard, Steve Miller and many more.

Les Paul is synonymous with the electric guitar.  This authorized biography includes footage from the Les Paul estate.


*2007 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award Winner!

In Hd ONLY select rights available. Ready for delivery.


Les Paul awards-1



“Absolutely Sensational”
“…Les Paul at his best.”
“…a joyous celebration…”
“This film made me cry…”
“…spellbinding from beginning to end…”
“…amazing tribute to an amazing musician.”
“God bless the makers of this DVD (and Les)!”
“…should be shown in every music class in America.”


washington post LES PAUL: LIVING THE LEGACY:     The 90-minute documentary by John Paulson and James Arntz, shown recently as part of PBS’s “American Masters” is loaded with adulation, and why not? Paul is one of the most significant musical figures of the 20th century, and if he’d never played a note, he’d still be a music legend for his inventions. Music producer Phil Ramone insists that not a day goes by when musicians and producers are not influenced by something Paul wrote, played or invented, which is why he’s the only person to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Paul, the father of modern electric guitar with the iconic Gibson solid-body guitar that bears his name, fueled the rise of rock-and-roll in the ’50s and ’60s. He invented multi-track recording and overdubbing, as well as reverb and echo effects. And, oh yeah, he was a jazz guitar virtuoso and monstrously popular pop artist in the ’40s and ’50s with his then-wife, Mary Ford.Speaking recently from his longtime home in Mahwah, N.J., Paul expresses appreciation for the film that captures his own unquenchable joy of playing his regular two-set show every Monday at the Iridium in New York City. “Chasing Sound” is built around Paul’s 90th birthday celebration there in 2005.DVD extras include more from the birthday celebration, vintage duets with Keith Richards, Kay Starr and Chet Atkins, among others, and classic Les Paul and Mary Ford TV appearances.“These are things I didn’t expect,” he says of the film and the attendant renewal of interest in his achievements. “It’s great that it’s happening, in many cases letting youngsters know where it started from. It’s good that we have a chance to explain how these things came about. I can’t imagine that anybody knows who I am, that I have done anything or any of it. I think of it all as a dream.”excerpted, reviewed by Richard Harrington/Washington Post Staff Writer/Friday, August 10, 2007
dvd talk If you play the electric guitar with any frequency, then the name Les Paul probably means at least something to you. Whether it’s pure knowledge of his signature guitar’s sexy curves or the incredible nimbleness of his fingers dancing along the fretboard, Les Paul has left massive imprints across all of music. At 90 when this documentary was filmed, the man is going as strong as ever. Les Paul: Chasing Sound gives us an intimate portrait of this master’s life and times, from his youthful roots with ramshackle bands to the massive prestige his name carries to this day.Les Paul: Chasing Sound, his authorized biography, makes certain that you get to know the roots of this magician in an engrossingly intimate way. Featuring exquisite historical performances and a wonderful editing and narrative style, even casual viewers will find a lot of magic within this documentary material integrated within footage of one of his recent live performances. We’re taken from Wisconsin and Chicago all the way across the country to Hollywood as Les Paul’s adventures in music grasp us on screen. It’s not in a chronological list form either, like reading off a timeline. His life takes on an intricately displayed persona with very insightful and emotive glimmers. Les Paul himself tells us about it all in wonderfully candid form.The structure of this beautifully shot documentary is outstanding. When you blitz through some other documentary pieces, especially music-related docs, you get a little lost in the cookie-cutter format following an interview-clip-interview pattern.Chasing Sound, however, is just a purely enjoyable piece of work to watch, both for content and the format. Historical footage wedges into the flow, but they’re edited in with such a seamless fashion that you just soak in the material while watching the interviews. Also, the marvelous musical accompaniment is a barrage of wonderful choices to backdrop this feature. It’s wholly possible to just kick back and soak in the music and scrolling images flushing across the screen. Posters, records, lyrics, and sweeping shots of awards and guitars cross our sight. However, it’s in a very humble fashion void of arrogance.You see the legit jubilation across several artists’ faces that have absorb influence from Les Paul. Chasing Sound packs in a lot of influential musicians affected by him, including small glimmers from Bonnie Raitt and Paul McCartney to prolonged portraits regarding Chet Atkins and B.B. King. That’s not even including all the artists mentioned that utilized his Gibson-branded works of art. The list is astronomical, one hardly worth starting to mention. This documentary makes certain to do a bit of name dropping, and it’s to our amazement and joy to see our man Les standing next to such an amazing range of musicians.Not only did I learn a lot about Les Paul watching Chasing Sound, but I just had a great time listening to his performances and his stories. If you’re not aware of the full influence he’s played on the world of music as a whole, not just as a guitarist, then Chasing Sound is a great way to pick up on it. This isn’t a documentary shackled by dates and times to remember, but instead takes us along a comfortably enjoyable pace while educating us. Les Paul: Chasing Sound is one of the lusher and more pleasurable musical portraits I’ve had the delight to see.Les Paul: Chasing Sound is a thoroughly solid documentary piece that remembers to keep us entertained while we’re enjoying the material about a master of his craft. It takes a low-key, sweeping narrative style accompanied by wonderfully selected music that we enjoy from start to finish. Packed with a solid transfer and dense special features, any fan or curious party will find something to thoroughly enjoy in this package. For that, Les Paul: Chasing Sound comes Highly Recommended.Review by Thomas Spurlin/DVDTalk/September 9, 2007
 usa today THIS WEEK’S PLATINUM PICKS:  Inventor, innovator, role model for aging gracefully – and, man, after six decades, those recordings with Mary Ford still don’t sound like anything else produced on this planet.  What Edison was to the light bulb, 92-year-old Paul is to electric guitars and most recording advances you can think of since the days when, say, the Sons of the Pioneers were charting. This American Masters paean gave me the best time I’ve had in a while, especially the parts about then-wed Paul and Ford fashioning their classics in self-rigged echo chambers around the house.  Greatest moment:  watching Richard Carpenter and other enthusiasts listening to the team’s How High the Moon.  FOUR STARS out of Four.Review by Mike Clark/USA Today/ August 17, 2007
electronic review THE LEGEND OF LES PAUL:  At 92, the great Les Paul serves as one of the hidden faces of American music, a man whose hands and heart are alive in myriad aspects of our sound, as much a part of the musical landscape as visionaries like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Robert Johnson.Some 60 years after he hit the scene, Paul’s contributions to music are used and reused, are heard and reheard, on every stereo and on every radio throughout the world. In point of fact, this is the innovator who gave the world the most influential instrument of the modern musical era – the solid body electric guitar.However, Paul’s ingenious curiosity didn’t stop there, as his cutting-edge ideas on making records found their way into the studio in the guise of the now universal over-dubbing technique that so many sound engineers employ.In Chasing Sound, which is part of the acclaimed American Masters series that has entertained and educated us for decades, we  finally have been granted a true examination of the dynamic Les Paul and his many revolutionary accomplishments.“It would be difficult to overstate Les Paul’s influence on popular music in the twentieth century,” muses American Master’s creator Susan Lacy. “He pioneered the electric guitar and revolutionized our concept of what recorded music could be. Ironically, his inventions ushered in rock ‘n’ roll and pushed him out of the spotlight…”In the minds of many, Les Paul is the rock and roll melody line, his solid-body electric axe the heart that drives the blood through the vein of the song. Consequently, every player owes a debt to his genius: Without his diligence and curiosity and hard-edged drive, our music would sound quite differently (and most certainly would lack much of its wanton bring-down-the-walls passion).In this film, Paul’s story is told in pure documentary form, but with a twist: Instead of using a narrator, Paulson allows his subject to propel the flow of the piece, Paul painting the picture of his life through sweet remembrances and anecdotes (taking us from the bitter basics of his Wisconsin hometown, to the Depression-sick streets of Chicago playing along side Art Tatum and Louie Armstrong, and then onto Hollywood, days of World War II, where he backed the legendary Bing Crosby on guitar).Interspersed throughout the production are classic bite-sized capsules of the music Paul helped to make famous, in addition to interviews with the likes of Jeff Beck, the late Ahmet Ertegun, B.B. King and Tony Bennett – these voices who remain indebted to Paul now looking back on him with fond respect, these intimate pebbles of memory serving to give this film-record ‘body’ and ‘shape’ and present-day relevance. Moreover, these interviews offer much new information on multiple levels, helping to humanize Paul in a way that those staid biographies and formulized magazine snapshots never could.Obviously, there are many reasons why this is an important film, not least of which is the fact that it weaves the bits and pieces of a huge life into a single shard of fabric that is as broad as it is introspective – a true reference point that will enlighten a series of generations. Simply, any kid who boots up his I-Pod and retreats into a rock ‘n’ roll moment should know who Les Paul is and why his work is considered utterly indispensable to the face of our popular culture.reviewed by John Aiello/The Electric Review
electronic review    TEN MINUTES WITH JOHN PAULSON: John, let’s begin with a bit about how you started directing films. I was actually a film-maker at the Smithsonian Institute for 14 years, and that’s how I cut my teeth on the documentary form. That was also where I learned to make films about culture and music and the arts. While I was at the Smithsonian I was able to work with a variety of themes, in a variety of styles. But I always seemed to gravitate towards films which possessed a strong cultural expression. That part of my career came to an end in 2002, when the Smithsonian terminated its film department. And that’s when I became a true independent film-maker. Some would say that it’s pretty bold doing a film on Les Paul, holding to the theory that it’s a narrow subject-line, since most young viewers probably are not aware of Paul’s place in music history. Given this, how did you come to make Chasing Sound? You know, that’s probably true – most people don’t have a real sense of who Les Paul is, other than being some dusty name from the past. And that was exactly my mission with this movie – to increase awareness of this very important component of music history. In fact, Les was the first guy playing electric guitar coast-to-coast, the first to ‘electrify’ and bring this music to the radio. Personally, I met Paul while I was at the Smithsonian. Of course, I’d known about him for a long time, with his name embroidered on the necks of so many guitars. And as I got to know him, I found Paul to be an amazing character full of exuberance. And as I got to know him better, I came to understand his special place in history, I came to see that he was indeed a candidate worthy of an American Masters production. It must have been a daunting assignment – trying to bring this multi-dimensional man to the screen… Yeah, it was. There was so much to the story. Plus, I was absolutely stunned by his ability as a guitar player. The layers to his recordings are astonishing. But the story was big and broad; there was so much to say in 84 minutes. As a film-maker, I had to give it everything I had. I didn’t hold anything back, because when you’re working with a legend like Paul, you owe him as much. Really, there’s a lot to Paul that most listeners don’t know about, things like his wonderful sense of humor. I wanted to bring that element out. I wanted to make a film to match up with Les Paul’s rascal-sense of humor. Why is it important for young fans of the rock idiom to see this movie? I think the over-all message is important – that you can’t take what came before you for granted. Listen to your soul and your vision and where it wants to take you. Paul heard these guitar sounds in his head that no one else heard and he worked like hell to make them real. He willed them into being, creating technical advances to make them a reality. After creating this movie, tell me who you think the real Les Paul is… Paul is a guy who always knew what he wanted to do, and he worked like hell to make these things happen, dedicating many years of his life to his art. And because of his dedication, his contributions to music are permanent. In terms of making the movie, how long did it take – start to finish? It took about 2 years start-to-finish, though it wasn’t done continuously. I started it during his 90th birthday celebration and the filming continued for another 6-9 months. After the filming was done, it took another 6 months to edit and shape the movie. I guess it might be hard for some to understand, but with Les, you don’t just rip out the camera and start filming. There’s some camaraderie to the process. Given Paul’s advanced age, this production could have presented some challenges. What was it like working him? Did you run into any unforeseen problems? Well, Les’ age wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, Les didn’t even want to make this film in the beginning, he didn’t want to stop his own work that he was doing. It took me 9 months to convince him to do the project. Actually, Les is really a night owl. He gets up in the afternoon and lives his life at night. Thus we’d start filming around 6 PM and stop around 2 AM. We’d finish and leave, and he’d be off to work on something else. “Chasing Sound” is actually a phrase Paul uses to describe his own quest. And it was a perfect title for the movie. But, really, Paul’s age wasn’t a consideration. He’s still incredibly sharp-witted with extraordinary recall, with such extraordinary memories stored in his mind. Where do you go from here John? What’s your next project? As far as I am concerned, music is the fabric of our beings. It’s as important as drinking water. It’s what moves us. It’s what soothes us. And in my eyes the music-makers are standard-bearers for each of  us. I’ve done a lot of music stories in documentary form and I want to continue this work. Art is what moves my soul. And I want to continue on this path… interview by John Aiello/The Electric Review 


The commercial DVD version of Chasing Sound available from Koch Vision allows viewers to commit this very important and very influential music documentary to their own libraries. The DVD brings the legend of Les Paul right to your home projectors and captures some rare footage of Paul at work, playing with his Trio at the Iridium Jazz Club. These are the special moments that the film’s director John Paulson alludes to in the preceding interview: Paul’s considerable skill as a musician placed center-stage as he drowns his spirit in sacred ideas of sound and rhythm. Going further, viewers are treated to extended discussions with this ‘architect of rock ‘n’ roll’ as we come to create a very real and very intimate relationship with the man responsible for so much of what we hear on FM stations across our scattered countryside. Aside from its subject matter, the film’s production work stands out – sparkling clarity marks the shape of each and every frame. In addition to being appropriate for fans of the electric guitar, Chasing Sound should be strongly considered for use in the classroom as an instructional aid: Too many younger students of the idiom fail to realize Paul’s place in the history of our music, and this film serves to right that course, reacquainting us with this innovator of many faces and many passions who took the bare-white thirsty bones of an idea and shaped them into a world-wide revolution. by John Aiello/The Electric Review





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