Jerry Wexler: Immaculate Funk

As the ears of Atlantic Records, Jerry Wexler made superstars out of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and presided over the creation of some of the greatest pop records ever. As this 2000 portrait points out, he also represents a dying breed in the music business: a moneyman with an instinct for finding and developing talent. Director Tom Thurman follows Wexler from his days as a reporter for Billboard, where he convinced the brass to rename the “race records” chart “rhythm & blues,” to his partnership with Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic, to his mid-60s pilgrimage to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, where he united black vocalists like Franklin with a house band of good old boys and unleashed a torrent of hit records. The commentary is sharp and knowing, drawing on Wexler's musical proteges (Charles, Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Allen Toussaint, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson), talented Memphis writer Stanley Booth, and legendary engineer Tom Dowd. 72 min.

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