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Becoming a Man, and All that Jazz

‘Cool Daddy’ profiles a great Canadian crooner, his son, and Rat Pack masculinity.

By Dorothy Woodend 12 Mar 2019 | TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

Kenny Colman shot to fame in the early 1960s, catching the ear of legendary chanteuse Sarah Vaughan. Gigs in Las Vegas and New York soon followed where Colman rubbed elbows with the Rat Pack, seduced beautiful women and crooned jazz standards in a honeyed baritone. The Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, dubbed Colman “a warrior” — a benediction that seemingly assured his arrival as a jazz great.

But despite appearances on The Johnny Carson Show and recordings with the London Philharmonic, stardom proved elusive. As the bright lights faded away, Colman was reduced to singing on cruise ships and performing at old-timers’ shows in his hometown of Vancouver.

Vancouver filmmakers Roger Larry and Sandra Tomc (Citizen Marc) get up close and personal with Kenny and his 40-year-old son Chase, who decides to ditch his career as a real estate agent and follow in his father’s footsteps. In music lessons and rehearsal sessions, Larry captures scenes of their clashing egos and Kenny’s Daddy Dearest-style parenting, as well as more tender and funny moments between father and son.

Vintage footage of Kenny at the peak of his powers is set against the struggle of Chase to find his own path. As Chase prepares for his first professional show, Kenny’s health deteriorates, and old wounds and fresh hurt erupt into battles that threaten their relationship.

Watch the trailer for ‘Cool Daddy.’

This is the story director Roger Larry always wanted to make about his own deeply loved if difficult father, but couldn’t, he says. It’s about “an extremely glamourous but toxic masculinity” embodied by Sinatra and his protégés, passed down by guys with Kenny Colman values to a generation of sons like Chase.

Larry and Tomc find a way to daylight the pathos and humanity at the centre of this pair, unpacking that old-fashioned toxic masculinity and also new age entitlement with patience and a healthy dose of reason. Cool Daddy unfolds like a jazz standard, a blend of pain, love and regret, melting into the air, like cigarette smoke.

Cool Daddy airs Tuesday and Wednesday after already showing Monday on CBC Documentary Channel.  [Tyee]

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