Pop Culture

Netflix’s The Eddy Isn’t Your Typical Parisian Jazz Ensemble Drama

I love how, even though it’s a complete story, each episode centers on a different individual. Almost as if each character were taking a solo in some sort of jazz band.

Jordan, you are reading my intentions very clearly!

Aha! And I think so many of us are drawn to musicians.

And they are all playing live. We used multiple cameras, but since it was engineered live—we turned that location into a studio—we could cut between takes seamlessly. And, knock wood, if the world gets back to normal, we’re hoping for a little tour with this band.

Jazz can be tough. People who aren’t hip to it can be scared off by something that’s too avant-garde, and your show isn’t that. But it isn’t exactly as accessible as jazz brunch, either.

It’s all Glen Ballard. He lived in Paris and was working on a suite of songs. He bought me a CD of them in 2013 and said he wanted to do a show around a jazz club in contemporary Paris, but not the jewel box Paris you see on film. Multicultural Paris, multilingual Paris, multifaith Paris.

These songs are steeped in jazz chromatics, jazz harmonics, and jazz rhythms, but with the shape of songs. They have a hook, they have a verse, they have a chorus, and then they have breaks for solos. In earlier decades, the people working in the jazz idiom were Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin. Glen was trying to recapture the jazz of the American Songbook.

Will there be a soundtrack album?

Yes, it drops the same day as the series, 16 tracks from the show, performed by the band and Joanna, with four bonus tracks by other artists.

Oh, who are the others?

I don’t know if I can say.

Come on.

Do you know who Jorja Smith is?


Well, she’s a big up-and-coming jazz vocalist. And we also have something with St. Vincent.

Nice. And you’ll have some of the material outside of the Eddy Band, some of the North African stuff?

Yes, particularly a song called “Au Milieu,” which means in the middle. That’s the one that you hear the band rehearse in the projects, sung by Sim’s brother Tarif, played by Sopico, who is a very well known French hip-hop artist.

I think every great series has that one episode that’s a departure. Episode three of The Eddy hits pause on the plot a little to show the specifics of a Muslim funeral, and then take us to a jazz funeral.

That episode was directed by Houda Benyamina, and we were very aware we wanted to reflect the characters of the series by having nonstandard white French points of view. Houda’s film Divines won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes; she’d never directed something someone else had written. We all worked very hard so she could interpolate Jack’s script and incorporate Damien’s established tone, yet still make it her own. Episode three is a great achievement, I think, because it’s still the same show you’ve been watching, but breaks down a lot of doors culturally and emotionally.

I associate Damien Chazelle with elaborately choreographed set pieces—not just from La La Land, but also First Man—and the style here is more like an edgier, independent feel.

Damien is a master of any style. He’s a true student of film. His first film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, has more of the handheld, vérité look. La La Land was so meticulously planned and structured. So this, which is meant to feel spontaneous, was liberating for him. We decided on this style very early on, partially because it was counter to expectations.

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