Timing is a key facet of cricket and the makers of a new documentary about the England team must be thanking their lucky stars that Ben Stokes has been capturing the public's imagination with his batting displays in the World Cup Final and the Third Test at Headingley. Directed by Barney Douglas and scripted by Gabriel Clarke, The Edge represents a solid follow-up after the duo's respective successes with Warriors (2015) and Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager (2018). Narrated by Toby Jones and chronicling the efforts of skippers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook to steer England to the top of the world rankings, this also offers sobering insights into the psychological stresses involved in elite sport. For all its proficiency and good intentions, however, this sometimes irksomely back-slapping effort falls some way short of the standards set by Stevan Riley's Fire in Babylon (2010) and James Erskine's From the Ashes (2011).

Following an opening onslaught of hyperbole over a flash-cut montage that's designed to convey the terrifying intensity of Test combat, we cut to a series of monochrome clips from Grahame Tharp's 1950 British Council short, Cricket, to hear Ralph Richardson and John Arlott wax lyrical about a game that England gave to an empire that seized it as a unique opportunity to bloody the mother country's nose. The narration hints that teams like Australia, India and the West Indies wanted it more and that was why England had plummeted down the rankings before coach Peter Moores and captain Kevin Pietersen were sacked in January 2009. 

Reckoning that there was only one way to go from the depths of the doldrums, Johannesburger Andrew Strauss accepted the captaincy, only for England to be skittled out for 51 in his first match in Jamaica. With the condemnation of Sky commentators and ex-heroes Bob Willis and Ian Botham ringing in their ears, Strauss and teammates Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Graeme Swann accepted that things could only get better and they started to improve with the appointment as coach of former Zimbabwean Test batsman, Andy Flower. 

Such was his fabled rectitude and intensity that he had used his position to speak out about Robert Mugabe's abuses of power. No wonder Ian Bell, Steven Finn, Matt Prior and Tim Bresnan were scared and impressed by him. But all agreed at a bruising team meeting that his two-year plan to take England from seventh to top of the ICC rankings was worth making sacrifices for, especially as they could kick start it by reviving memories of 2005 by reclaiming the Ashes from Australia. 

The first Test in July was at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens and skipper Ricky Ponting was determined to prove that lessons had been learned from the last tour. But, while the Aussies were on top for much of the game, they hadn't reckoned on the stubborn last wicket resistance of paceman Anderson and spinner Monty Panesar. Paul Collingwood jokes that few gave them a chance of surviving for 40 minutes, but they put their bodies on the line to secure the draw. 

An overwritten splurge about batting bank accounts and the need for a good England team to have a Geoffrey Boycott or Michael Atherton to allow the spendthrifts to thrive leads to the introduction of Jonathan Trott as the vital piece of imported granite that this XI required. As the son of an English father, the Cape Town-born Trott had a British passport and Stuart Broad and Anderson joke about how compulsive he could be in the dressing room. But he felt he had the right stuff and, as we hurtle past the next three Tests as if they were of little consequence, we reach the Oval for the decider. 

After Broad's five-wicket haul had put the hosts on top, the debuting Trott strode out to bat. He explains how he conquered his nerves by imagining himself in the middle of an empty field and we are treated to a cutaway of Trott doing just that in his full kit. The trick worked, however, as he made a maiden century and Swann spun England to victory. Much to his dismay, however, when he got his hands on the famous urn, he saw a sticker for £4.95 from the Lords shop on the bottom. 

The success took England to fifth in the rankings and Flower reminded his players that the hard work had only just begun. In order to make it a bit easier, he proposed the return of Pietersen, who had left South Africa at the age of 20 in protest at the introduction of a quota system in the Test team and set his sights on playing for England. All agreed, he was the most naturally gifted player in the squad, but there was a new resolve for others to make statement innings throughout the team. 

Candid footage of bungee jumping shows the camaraderie that was developing, as the unit left for the World Twenty20 Cup in the Caribbean in May 2010. But there's no time to consider how England won its first major trophy and why bother mentioning Test series against South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan when we can fast forward to the year-ending tour of Australia? We do need to take an October detour to the Bavarian Alps, however, to show how Flower put the touring party through rigorous survival training in order to toughen them up for the battle ahead. Such was the relentlessness of the special forces trainers that Flower wondered whether he had done the right thing, especially when Anderson broke a rib during a boxing bout. But, despite some bellyaching from Pietersen and Panesar, most agreed that the experience helped the group bond, although Strauss insists that the most useful moment was a sharing session around the campfire that created a newfound sense of team trust.

Following another purple splurge of macho-babble about Anglo-Australian rivalry that finds room to namecheck Don Bradman and the lethal pace duo of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, we are introduced to Melbournian bowling coach David Saker, who gave Flower and his troops an insight into the Aussie psyche. But, having dwelt on Strauss's third-ball duck in the first innings at Brisbane, Douglas and Clarke again offer little sporting analysis in using montage and voiceover to focus on team mentality, as England succumbed to defeat in Perth after a gritty draw in the opener and a win at Adelaide - games that were characterised as much by the calibre of the sledging as the standard of play (even though both Cook and Pietersen posted double centuries). 

Redemption came during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne after Bresnan replaced Finn, who was the team's leading wicket taker. Yet, even though it was Chris Tremlett who returned the best figures in Australia's capitulation for 98, he doesn't merit a mention as Douglas turns the spotlight on Jimmy Anderson (his buddy and the executive producer of Warriors) and shows him running on a Lancastrian beach while he describes his memories of the day in voiceover. Indeed, it was Bresnan who did the damage in the second innings, after England had notched 513. The hero of the innings was actually Trott with 163, but the slant is placed on Strauss and Cook so knocking the stuffing out of the Australian team at the end of the first day that there were swathes of empty seats before the close. The MCG, which had been compared to the arena in Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000), no longer seems so intimidating. 

With the Ashes retained, the team partied hard and reflected on the benefits of the Bavarian nightmare. They also won at a canter in Sydney for one of the most memorable series wins Down Under. But this isn't worth mentioning, as we see England rise to No.2 in the rankings behind their 2011 visitors, India. But we only get to see two balls from the entire series as England reach the summit for the first time in history. Much is made of this and how they became the greatest England team of all time. But the rankings were only introduced in 2003, which is nothing considering that Test cricket began in 1877. Perhaps that's why Strauss admits that holding the ICC mace felt like a bit of an anti-climax.

There's only one way to go from the top, of course, and that's down and Douglas and Clarke shift from triumphalism to empathy, as they start to examine the toll that 18 months of graft and sacrifice had taken on the minds and bodies of the core players. This means another leap forward, as the winter series against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are ignored, while Pietersen conveniently forgets the voluntary nature of his involvement in the Indian Premier League in complaining that he was playing too much cricket to give his best with any consistency. Naturally, one feels sympathy with someone who went into some dark places away from the wicket, but Douglas and Clarke are only telling part of the story in order to hammer home their point. 

Having retired from one-day and T-20 cricket, Pietersen blitzed 149 against South Africa at Headingley. But all was not well, as he admits to having broken down in the changing room and been annoyed at having to do the media when in a fragile state. He hinted that the third Test would be his last, but he was dropped after sending text messages to mates in the Proteas team that reportedly criticised Flower and Strauss. As the game at Lords was also scheduled to be his swan song, Strauss felt badly let down and Anderson claims it did feel akin to cheating on the wife. Broad denies involvement in a Twitter account that mocked Pietersen, but it clearly riled him. Yet, while Trott claimed his compatriot was a loyal man who only lashed out when he was attacked, Collingwood suggests he became harder to manage the less he needed the England platform to launch the KP brand. 

The pressure told on Strauss, who left under a cloud after doing so much to help change the culture. Fellow Joburger Matt Prior implies that the management failed to realise the seriousness of the chink in the team's armour and was powerless to respond when they became cracks. But new captain Cook brought Pietersen back into the team for the 2012 tour to India, where they proceeded to win for the first time since 1984. Nothing is shown of the actual cricket, however, as the focus falls back on to the psychological strain of competing at the highest level. Panesar reveals that he withdrew to his room and comfort ate when things went badly for him, while Flower admits that his martinet management style might not have suited players who needed an arm around the shoulder. 

Being away 250 nights a year was also having an effect on Flower's home life, but not everyone could channel and compartmentalise in the same way. Pietersen, Finn, Prior and Trott all admit to crying in the changing room, as the pressure to maintain performance levels became too much for them to bear. Teammates were aware of the problems, but they had their own place to fight for and rocking the boat was a poor career choice. But the rumblings grew louder as England set off to defend the Ashes in November 2013 (no mention of that summer's home series against the old enemy, however, which England had won 3-0). 

As Mitchell Johnson steamed in, wickets tumbled and Trott began to struggle with the mental aspect of his technique. In order to convey this, Douglas cants the camera to suggest disorientation before having a fully kitted Trott plunge into a deep pool and see his carefree country field fall into a darkness that was strafed by lightning cracking over the skyscrapers of a forbidding nocturnal city. As Trott admits to tears flowing on the field, Douglas cuts to shots of the Aussies appearing to laugh at his discomfort and includes an extract from a David Warner interview in which he accuses Trott of being weak. Trott recognised that playing for England had driven him to what he calls a life or death moment and he decided to withdraw from squad after the first Test in Brisbane. 

The director's intention is clear, but the audiovisual gambits employed to convey Trott's distress are pretty cackhanded. But the coverage of the remainder of the series is rushed, with Swann's immediate retirement before the Boxing Day Test being mentioned as an afterthought following the revelation that England had been whitewashed. Pietersen and Flower's post-tour departures are announced through news bulletin sound bites over a wildly melodramatic shot of the map to which Douglas has consistently referred while plotting England's campaign of world domination disintegrating in flames inside the bunker-like room in which Flower had held his pivotal team talk. 

It's a shame that the makers feel the need to resort to such cornball sensationalism, as they have a serious point to make and have several high-profile cricketers willing to do it for them on camera. Moreover, they also have Flower admitting that he would now do things differently in trying to connect with the person as well as the player. Prior doubts whether it's possible to be the best person one can be when there is so much on the line, while Bell concedes that other players might have done more to keep an eye on teammates. 

Somewhat curiously, without seeking to ascertain how newcomers like Joe Root and Ben Stokes felt coming into this environment, we lurch forward to Cook scoring a century against India in his last Test at the Oval in 2018. As he tends the cows on his farm and dandles his baby, he claims it felt good to go out on a high knowing there was nothing left in the tank. In fact, he is currently playing county cricket for Essex and Trott also returned to Warwickshire for a few more seasons of pressure-off enjoyment before signing off against Kent last September. When asked about what he will miss, however, he wells up because nothing will be able to replace forging partnerships with good mates like Cook, Strauss, Pietersen and Bell. 

In summation, even the players who went through hell look back on what they have achieved with pride. Strauss suggests that the bad things are what you miss most when you retire, as they helped make the highs seem more cherishable. As we see the team smoking cigars in a circle on the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground having retained the Ashes, we hear Saker remind them that these moments are rare and make everything worthwhile, Swann confides that he has been lucky in having so many great memories to look back on. So, is it all worth it after all?

If Cecil B. DeMille had ever made a documentary about cricket, it might have looked something like this. The great showman was famous for showing sin in all its lurid detail and then punishing it in the final reel in order to stay within the Production Code guidelines. Douglas and Clarke also want it both ways, as they seek to show the macho bantering and bonding side of Test cricket, while also exposing the damage it can do to the mentally vulnerable. They also confine their discussion to the England set-up when it might have been useful to know if any other Test side has been through similar traumas. Moreover, they also make the Australians the villains of the piece by including numerous cheap shots of them sledging and mocking, when England are scarcely novices in this department.  

This infuriating selectivity carries over into the choice of audiovisual material, as events are not always presented in their proper context. It was a winning team that lost 5-0 in 2013-14, but it's not always made clear that the unhappiness was mounting against a backdrop of continued success rather than resounding defeat. By skirting over series with less kudos attached to them, this bullishly edited and bombastically scripted film presents a skewed account of this particular England team's evolution. Douglas and Clarke mean well and clearly feel a duty of care to their interviewees. But, given their access to the people that matter most in this fascinating story, this has to be put down as a missed opportunity.

No sailor in modern times has been discussed more on screen than Donald Crowhurst. Of course, the tragic conclusion to Teignmouth Electron's bid to win the 1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race plays right into the British wheelhouse. Maybe that's why it's taken so long for somebody to make a film about Tracy Edwards and the all-woman crew who not only competed in, but also completed the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race and made maritime history into the bargain. But the wait has been worth it, as Alex Holmes's Maiden is a fitting tribute to a restless spirit and her dauntless crew. 

Over opening shots of a raging sea, Tracy Edwards declares: `The ocean is always trying to kill you. It doesn't take a break.' Born in 1962, she was raised in Pangborne by a dancer mother who had been the first woman to ride a motorbike on the TT course on the Isle of Man. She had been driving go-karts when she first met her engineer husband, who had designed stereo speakers before dying when Edwards was 10. Her idyllic lifestyle changed dramatically when her mother remarried and moved to Wales. But, while she met lifelong friend Jo Gooding, Edwards had to put up with the abuse of her drunken stepfather and became such an angry teenager that she was suspended 26 times before she ran away from home after being expelled. 

Nothing is said about how Edwards managed to cross Europe or reach Piraeus in Greece, where she became a stewardess aboard a yacht. But, once there, she developed a passion for the sea and, having found a book about the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, she was encouraged by no less a person than King Hussein of Jordan to get a berth as a cook after she met him on a cruise. In 1985, sailing was a man's sport, as skippers Bruno Dubois and Skip Novak and journalists Barry Pickthall and Bob Fisher condescendingly recall. But Edwards was hired to cook for Norsk Data GB before switching to Atlantic Privateer for the second leg.

As one of only four women among the 230-odd men competing in the race, Edwards was deemed sufficiently newsworthy for Frank Bough to interview her for BBC Breakfast Time. When she looks back now, she realises she was treated like a skivvy. But Edwards was determined to fit in and recalls the thrill of being part of a crew that won the leg culminating in Auckland. 

The experience convinced her that an all-female crew could cope with the rigours of the race and compete as equals. Edwards made her announcement at the Southampton Boat Show and, with Howard Gibbons as project manager, she gave herself three years to find a team. Gooding was summoned from Wales to be cook and Edwards also recruited Sally Creaser (née Hunter; helmswoman), Nancy Hill (née Harris; sail trimmer), Jeni Munday (bowman), Kiwi Claire Warren (née Russell; doctor), American Dawn Riley (watch captain), Irishwoman Angela Farrell (née Heath; sail trimmer) and Frenchwoman Marie-Claude Kieffer (née Heys; first mate). Each woman appears in talking-head interviews to reflect on how proud they were to have been chosen and how desperate they were to be taken seriously.

The news coverage was patronising in the extreme, however, with Fern Britton calling Edwards `a gorgeous slip of a girl' during their TV meeting. Moreover, rival skippers were every bit as scathing as the press. But Edwards wasn't in the mood for scoring gender political points, as she admitted in one interview that not only wasn't she a feminist, but she also hated the word. Her aim was simply to show that women could be equal to men on the high seas. But, as she was regarded as something of a maverick, finding sponsors proved exceedingly difficult, as potential suitors were either chauvinists or milquetoasts concerned about bad publicity in case there was an accident. 

After two years, Edwards decided to buy a secondhand boat and put the crew to renovating it in the boatyard before Maiden was launched by Sarah Ferguson. The delays led to tensions with Heys, however, who was easily the more experienced sailor. She admits now that she didn't realise the pressure that Edwards was under, having re-mortgaged her house (although it's not explained how she could suddenly afford one) and being tortured by self-doubts about whether she had the skills to skipper the boat and keep the crew together. 

Gooding admits that things were thrown when tempers frayed. But the strain eased when King Hussein persuaded Royal Jordanian Airlines to sponsor the boat and Edwards decided to enter the Fastnet Race, just three weeks before the Whitbread, as a trial run. Unfortunately, Gooding broke her wrist when the boat lurched in a heavy swell and Edwards fired Heys for having told Russell not to pack a full medical kit. This meant that they had to return to Plymouth and face media sniping that they weren't up to the challenge. Looking back, Mundy and Russell admit they had misgivings, as Heys was a fine yachtswoman. But the crisis enabled the 27 year-old Edwards to impose herself and demonstrate her leadership credentials.

On 2 September 1989, Maiden set sail from Southampton on the first leg to Punta del Este in Uruguay and the crew members admit to nerves on the morning. Gibbons reveals that the press had a book on how far they would get and Fisher remains convinced that they were right to doubt them, as it was a man's sport and they had precious little experience. There was also plenty of resentment amongst the other skippers, with Belgian Dubois on Rucanor Sport being cross at being placed in the same classification.  

Without Heys and Gooding (Kristin Harris cooked during the first leg), Edwards had much to prove and they lost time to sluggish winds in the early stages. But Tanja Visser (sail trimmer) recalls that they got their act together and started to grow as a crew. Indeed, they were disappointed to be only third in their class after 36 days (despite being eight days behind the bigger boats) and they all remember deeply resenting the patronising questions about how so many women were going to get along in such a confined space and manage for so long without make-up. 

Fisher dubbed them `a tin full of tarts' in The Guardian and Pickthall concedes that he was only marginally less dismissive. But Creaser and Mundy were seething at being presented in such a shoddy manner and Edwards confirms that they embarked on the second leg with a burning sense of having something to prove to the naysayers. 

The Southern Ocean is a tough place to be, however, and voiceovers describe how dangerous it can be over archive footage of New Zealanders Grant Dalton (Fisher & Paykel) and Peter Blake (Steinlager 2), American Skip Novak (Fazisi) and Brit John Chittenden (Creighton's Naturally) admitting to not looking forward to the ordeal ahead. At least the latter had the decency to hope that everyone gets to Western Australia in one piece. 

Boldly, Edwards went further south than anyone else in an effort to go in a straighter line. However, they experienced temperatures of -20° with the wind chill and it took 30 minutes to don all their thermal clothing. Moreover, they had to endure hellish lookout shifts with all the icebergs and fog. But they got through it, with Heath and Mundy recalling surfing the big waves with real relish. Sadly, Chittenden lost two overboard and, because he didn't have a medic on board, Russell had to provide radio assistance. While Bart van den Dwey was resuscitated, however, Anthony Philips died after hitting his head on a stanchion. 

It was tough to take, but Maiden ploughed on and after 65 days at sea, the crew approached Fremantle to learn that they had won the leg. Edwards was ecstatic and proud and mother Pat jokingly tells an interviewer that she can't believe that `that little horror' who never finished anything had turned into such an intrepid achiever. Despite the success, the press declared them lucky and Dubois was furious at having been pipped by a woman. It was at this point that Edwards realised she had become a feminist because no one was willing to give them a shred of credit. 

The next leg was to Auckland and the crew spent Christmas at sea. They were often racing against Rucanor and Patrick Tabarly's Esprit de Liberté and Edwards became increasingly confident that they could match them tactically. After 87 days at sea, they came in at midnight to find a huge crowd waiting for them on the quayside, as they had won Division D again and had a 16-hour lead over Tabarly. Even a sceptic like Fisher now had to accept that they were racing on equal terms and they were ecstatic at the reception they received from the New Zealanders, with children knowing all about them, as they drove through the streets on a parade float. 

Aghast at the prospect of throwing away her lead, Edwards became gripped with fear and over-thought her route around Cape Horn. Consequently, she made mistakes in trying to claw back some time. Maiden began to leak water because the mast had taken such a buffeting in the heavy seas and the crew had to make running repairs. They even had to mayday to the Falklands to keep an eye on them. Thus, an 18-hour lead became a 16-hour deficit and Edwards, as both skipper and navigator, was feeling very low. 

In an effort to distract the press from their poor performance, they decided to wear swimsuits to enter Fort Lauderdale in Florida. However, they now regret the message this gesture sent, as they were subjected to sniping accusations that they were women bickering among themselves when they should have been commended for overcoming the challenges that the rigorous race had thrown up.

Edwards was very down at no longer being competitive and the crew knew that their chances had gone when there was a complete lack of wind in the Atlantic. She began dreading the finishing line, as she would have to confront her failure. But, as Maiden approached the Needles at dawn, a dinghy containing a couple of kids sailed out to meet them and they were soon being followed in by a small flotilla into Ocean Village in Southampton. 

Fisher beams that it was one of the great Whitbread receptions and Dubois jokes that he knew it wasn't for him. They all felt overwhelmed, as horns were sounded to welcome them home and Edwards and her crewmates tear up at recalling both the reception and what it signified. 

In the weeks that followed, Edwards became the first woman to be named Yachtsman of the Year and she paid handsome tribute to her crew while holding back the tears in giving her acceptance speech. Gooding says it was a dream that came true and showed what women could do. But this feels like an anticlimactic end to a remarkable story. We are told nothing about what Edwards and her companions have done in the intervening three decades and there is no reunion on camera to show that the camaraderie remains, along with the pride in an achievement that the crew members speak of so fondly and eloquently. 

This is a shame, but it shouldn't detract from what is an accomplished and fascinating memoir. Perhaps Holmes is busily recording the round the world voyage that is currently being undertaken by the renovated Maiden, which was discovered in a marina in the Seychelles in 2014. Maybe executive producer James Erskine, who is a leading light among sports documentarists, might feel inspired to turn his attention to other female athletes, as there are plenty of stories waiting to be told.

As with Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story (2014), Holmes leaves a frustratingly large number of questions unanswered. But, thanks to editor Katie Bryer, he captures the sporting and human drama of the 33,000-miles odyssey. The talking-head approach is getting very stale, but the women speak with such acuity that there's never a dull moment. Edwards particularly emerges as an inspirational and insightful character and that's why many will feel shortchanged that Holmes comes to a dead halt in the spring of 1990. However, those caught up in the story can make a comparison between Holmes's film and the official race record, which can be found on the Volvo Legends Regatta page on YouTube.

Once upon a long ago, Hollywood had a thing about making biopics of the great jazz musicians. Among the best were Alfred E, Green's The Fabulous Dorseys (1947), Anthony Mann's The Glenn Miller Story (1954), Valentine Davies's The Benny Goodman Story (1956), Don Weis's The Gene Krupa Story, and Melville Shavelson's Red Nichols study, The Five Pennies (both 1959). What sticks out a mile, of course, is that all these films were about white musicians. The studios knew they wouldn't get bookings in the Deep South, so there was too great a financial risk involved in profiling African-Americans (or so the `official' story goes).

Although odd outings like Robert Budreau's Born to Be Blue and Don Cheadle's Miles Ahead (both 2015) still come along, what has been called `America's Classical Music' has been more at home in the documentary sphere since the release of Aram Avakim and Bert Stern's epochal concert movie, Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959). Now, Swiss director Sophie Huber adds to the growing list of essential jazzumentaries with Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, which educates, inspires and enthralls throughout an 85-minute running time that will leave many applauding for more. 

Don Was, the president of Blue Note Records, wanders into a studio and introduces the members of the Blue Note All-Stars: Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Marcus Strickland, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Luoeke and Kendrick Scott. The latter equates jazz with freedom and as the band launches into `Bayyinah', veterans Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock join hip hop producer Terrace Martin in claiming that Blue Note set the tone for American jazz because so many of its finest exponents were signed to the label that had been founded by Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff and Max Margolis in 1939. 

Boyhood friends Lion and Wolff are heard explaining how they became hooked on jazz in 1920s Berlin. However, they fled the Nazi persecution of the Jews and sound engineer Rudy van Gelder recalls how they wound up in New York. Knowing nothing about the record business, the pair were fans who trusted musicians like pianist Meade Lux Lewis, who was one of their first artists. Shorter and Hancock note that Lion and Wolff always gave them the space to create and allowed the music to reflect the black experience in the pre-Civil Rights era. 

Signed in 1952, saxophonist Lou Donaldson claims that most white label owners were scoundrels. But he liked Lion and Wolff, as they knew nothing about music, but knew what they liked and knew enough from their experiences under the Third Reich to empathise with the plight of black musicians. Wolff used to take pictures in the studio and Blue Note producer Michael Cuscuna owns his photo collection. He shows us Donaldson in a 1951 session with pianist Thelonius Monk and Donaldson jokes that he signed to the label because Lion hoped he could play like Charlie Parker. 

According to Donaldson, Monk was so innovative that he could be hard to play with until you got used to him and Glasper and Martin declare him to be the creator of hip hop jazz and credit Lion and Wolff for taking a chance on such a radical musician after they had initially recorded Dixieland before switching to Be-Bop. We see footage of Monk playing "`Round Midnight" and Cuscuna commends Lion for sticking with him for five years, even though nobody was buying the records and Donaldson insists nobody would have heard of Monk if Blue Note hadn't taken him on.

They had more commercial success with pianist Bud Powell, who had a hit with `Un Poco Loco' and remained a key player from 1949-58. Lion took a personal interest in him and encouraged him to compose his own music and let him advise on the sidemen he wanted to play with. Another to prosper was tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, whose Blue Train album remains a classic, with its distinctive artwork by Reid Miles and the sound captured by Van Gelder (who worked for Blue Note from 1953-2008). Scott claims this album made him want to be a musician and Hancock says the listener completes a work of musical art because they provide the emotional response that can't be pressed into the vinyl. 

For the first six years he was at Blue Note, Van Gelder recorded sessions at his parents' home in Hackensack, New Jersey. Among the tracks was `I Waited For You' by trumpeter Miles Davis in April 1953 before they built a studio at Eaglewood Cliffs in 1959 and Blue Note recorded over 400 albums there. Now, Don Was (who has worked with The Rolling Stones and The B-52s) is remastering the best for a vinyl reissue with the help of All-Stars sound engineer Keith Lewis. Among them is trumpeter Clifford Brown's Memorial Album (1953) and drummer Art Blakey's Live At Birdland (1954) and Donaldson played on both albums and he mourns that the 25 year-old Brown was killed in a car crash shortly afterwards because he had potential to be a legend. 

With Horace Silver on piano, the latter album broke the rules of Be-Bop and this Hard Bop became known as the Blue Note Sound. We hear Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers playing "Moanin'" in 1958 and Shorter recalls how Blakey forced him on stage and told him to stop hiding behind his saxophone. He and Hancock played together on Speak No Evil (1964) and they concur that they weren't trying to produce hits, but music that would still speak to people in the future. They also collaborated on `Mesqualero' in 1967 and we see the pair team with the All-Stars to record it again. As they listen to the playback, the younger musicians all wax lyrical about the generosity and inspiration the older men continue to provide, as they encourage bandmates to improvise and go with what they are feeling. 

In 1966, Shorter composed `Footprints' for Miles Davis and Hancock remembers him tidying up a mistake he had made during a show and teaching him the lesson of being non-judgemental when playing because new directions come from departing from the path. What impresses the All-Stars, however, is that the likes of Joe Henderson and Jackie McLean reflected the world they lived in and albums like Blakey's Free For All (1964) was a work of social consciousness, as well as art. Recorded between the march on Selma and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it was an angry and defiant, but also as optimistic as trumpeter Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder (1963). Hodge, Akinmusire and Scott muse on the fact that this was the sound of a people emerging from torment and it continues to inspire them to write music that connects with the audience and makes them think, as well as feel. 

Morgan's comeback album was one of Blue Note's biggest hits in the 1960s, along with Silver's Song For My Father (1965). But the success led to distributor agitation for more hits and they slowed down payments to goad Lion and Wolff into becoming more commercial. Faced with a cashflow crisis, they were forced to sell to Liberty Records and Lion and Miles left the label soon afterwards. Wolff continued to produce records until his death in 1971 and Blue Note went into mothballs after EMI acquired United Artists Records, which has taken over Liberty in 1969. 

With jazz slipping into the margins, hip hop became the new sound of the deprived inner city and people like Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest emerged in the mid-1980s and they sampled Lee Morgan's `Absolutions' for `Oh My God'. Lou Donaldson's `Ode to Billy Joe' is Blue Note's most sampled track and Muhammad says he is one of the architects of hip hop, along with the track's drummer, Idris Muhammad and guitarist Grant Green, as they played with a freedom that enthused the new generation

Blue Note was relaunched in 1985 via EMI's Manhattan Records and Bruce Lundvall remained its president until 2011, while Cuscana became one of the key producers. Among the hits was US3's `Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)' in 1993 and Norah Jones's `Don't Know Why' in 2003, which scooped armfuls of Grammys. Robert Glasper also became an important player by fusing jazz and hip hop on albums like Black Radio (2012), while he and Akinmusire played on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), which was co-produced by Terrace Martin, who insists the jazz/hip hop axis is only going to get stronger and that much of this is down to Blue Note Records. As the All-Stars conclude, playing instruments will die out unless they can inspire youth and showing them the link between rap and jazz is the only way to go.

Filled with challenging, but thrilling music, snippets of recording session banter and considered contributions from musicians who care about their art and the impact it can have on the wider community, this is a magnificent introduction to Blue Note that will have you scouring the Internet for some of the tracks it contains and wishing that someone would screen Huber's debut feature, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012). It might have been useful to include some critical and/or cultural analysis from outside the charmed circle, while more might have been made of musicians like Ike Quebec, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Smith, Dexter Gordon and Freddie Hubbard, whose names keep flashing past in the montages of album covers and credits. 

Similarly, it would be interesting to know why there are so few female artists on the roster and what impact EMI's takeover by Universal and the switch to Decca as the chief distributor has had on the Blue Note imprint. Few would have complained if Huber had added an extra half hour to cover these and other matters arising, such as the attitude of millennial urban youth to jazz and whether they share the All-Star view that it's still relevant in the era of Black Lives Matter. The added time would also have allowed her to include more of Wolff's exceptional monochrome photographs, which have an artistry that belies the fact they were often snapped on the hoof, as he danced around the studio to the music he loved, What an exhibition someone could mount of these snaps and Reid Miles's album covers! And how about a soundtrack album, too?

Sometimes a documentary does such a good job that it all-but renders subsequent inquiries into the same field obsolete. A case in point is David Sington's In the Shadow of the Moon (2007), which presented such a thorough and engaging account of the American space programme in the 1960s and 70s that it made the perfect companion to the 12-part HBO docudrama, From the Earth to the Moon (1998). Two-time Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan was played in the series by Daniel Hugh Kelly and Mark Craig marked the 50th anniversary of his first space flight in The Last Man on the Moon, which has been reissued on disc to cash in on the excitement over the celebration of the first Moon landing in July 1969.

This is an epic tale told in an intimate manner that captures the 82 year-old's tireless energy, as he tries to ensure the younger generation get to appreciate what it takes to have the right stuff. Born in Chicago in 1934 to a Czech mother and a Slovak father, Gene Cernan became a naval aviator after graduating in electrical engineering and learned to trust himself and his colleagues while landing planes on aircraft carriers on the high seas. He was recruited by NASA in October 1963 and was selected as Thomas Stafford's back-up pilot on Gemini 9A in February 1966 when the original crew was killed in a plane crash. During the mission, Cernan performed a space walk, although problems with his umbilical cord meant that the task proved exceedingly gruelling. 

However, Stoppard and Cernan proved such a good team that they were teamed with John Young on the Apollo 10 flight in May 1969 that was essential a dress rehearsal for the Moon landing that would be attempted two months later. Cernan and ex-wife Barbara reflect on the sense of camaraderie there was between the Apollo families, as they recall the loss felt by everyone when Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee perished inside Apollo 1 during a launch pad fire in February 1967. But Cernan admits that work had to come first and he regrets seeing so little of his daughter, Teresa, whom he visits on her ranch to talk about old times. 

Taking huge pride in the fact that his good friend Neil Armstrong became the first man on the lunar surface, Cernan was convinced his own opportunity had passed him by when he rejected a spot on Apollo 16 because he wanted to command his own mission. He was as surprised as anyone, therefore, when a potentially fatal helicopter crash seemed to have cost him his chance. An argument about the addition of geologist Harrison Schmitt to the crew further seemed to have undermined Cernan's case. But, much to the annoyance of Dick Gordon (who still clearly resents missing out), Cernan was teamed with Schmitt and Ronald Evans to fly Apollo 17. 

As the footage shows, Cernan and Schmitt got to explore the Taurus-Littrow valley in the Lunar Rover before Cernan left the final footprint on 14 December 1972. Four years later, he retired from both NASA and the US Navy and started up his own business. Married to his second wife, Jan, he remains an enthusiastic ambassador for manned space flight and delights in meeting the public to fire the imagination of young and old alike. He delivered the eulogy at Armstrong's funeral in August 2012 and continues to hope that he has done his bit towards forging `man's destiny of tomorrow'. 

Coming across as an intense and serious man, Cernan is grateful for his good fortune. Having tamed his sizeable ego, he retains an unassumingly masculine modesty and knows how to handle an anecdote, whether he is discussing Apollo 10's 24,791mph return to the Earth's atmosphere or his 73 hours on the lunar surface. He is ably abetted by Craig's choice of archive material (although scenes set in rodeo arenas and beside nocturnal barbecues feel a bit corny), which has been deftly spruced up by visual effects supervisor Penny Holton and sound designer Nick Adams. Lorne Balfe's score is another plus point, although those of a certain age can never hear mention of NASA without thinking of Richard Strauss's `Also Sprach Zarathustra'.