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Jeff Buckley’s “Amazing” Life Is Subject of Film Documentary
By David Chiu

The overall response to watching Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley, a posthumously released 2004 film documentary about the life of musician Jeff Buckley, is two-fold. One response is sadness because the film reminds us of what might have been if Buckley hadn’t died in 1997 at age 30 from an accidental drowning. And yet the film is also uplifting because of the timeless quality of Buckley’s music and mesmerizing performances.

The film chronicles Buckley’s early days performing at the Lower East Side café Sin-e, his signing with Columbia and garnering acclaim for the album Grace and culminates with his final stop in Memphis where he was recording Grace‘s follow-up. As the film points out, at a time when alternative rock, with its detachment and self-loathing, was all the rage—Buckley brought back the importance of the personal singer/songwriter. And while dealing with the pressures of fame and a music industry that was usually unkind to serious musicians driven by art, Buckley was never compromising. What comes across very clearly in this poignant documentary is Buckley’s drive and passion, qualities he possessed from the very beginning of his career that never diminished.

Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley has made the film festival rounds and will be released on DVD on June 2 as part of the special deluxe version of Grace Around The World, a DVD/CD collection of Buckley’s live performances recorded around the time of Grace. The documentary was directed and produced by Nyla Bialek Adams and Laurie Trombley. Microphone Memory Emotion caught up with the filmmakers who spoke about what drew them to producing a documentary about Buckley, the filming and research process and the impact of Buckley’s music.

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Jeff Buckley: Grace Around the World
Columbia/Legacy
By David Chiu

Whether it was at a New York City venue or at a television studio in London, the late Jeff Buckley never gave a pedestrian performance onstage. There was so much intensity and emotion in his musical delivery that it felt more like a spiritual experience than a show.

That notion is reinforced with this latest posthumous archival release, Grace Around the World, a DVD/CD collection of electrifying live performances from 1994 and 1995. “Grace Around the World” reveals two sides of Buckley the musician: the manic and intense rock performer (from the BBC Late Show, London), and the warm and intimate artist (in his performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for MTV Japan).

Throughout this DVD you can see Buckley evoking his influences such as Led Zeppelin, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Nina Simone both in his voice and in the music. More importantly, however, he forged his own distinct identity in the process.

If you can afford to spend the few extra dollars, you should definitely get the deluxe version of this set because it comes with “Amazing Grace,” a documentary about Buckley’s life, directed by Nyla Bialek Adams and Laurie Trombley. This film, which came out in 2004, provides a well-rounded portrait of the singer’s life and details his early performances at New York City’s Sin-e, his rapid rise and acclaim during his tenure with Columbia Records and his final days in Memphis as he was recording the follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Grace.” In addition to archival footage and performances, it features interviews with Buckley’s mother Mary Guibert, members of his band, friends, and musicians Chris Cornell, Duncan Sheik and former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach. Like “Grace Around The World,” “Amazing Grace” shows what a blessed and gifted musician Buckley was.

His untimely death still resonates when one thinks of what his career might have been.

“Grace Around the World” is out on June 2.

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