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Cameron Crowe's Elton John-Leon Russell doc, 'The Union,' to premiere tonight at Tribeca Film Festival

April 20, 2011 | 10:37 am

Elton John-Hollywood Palladium 11-2010 Luis Sinco

Leon Russell-Hollywood Palladium 11-2010 Luis Sinco

New York's Tribeca Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of "The Union," Cameron Crowe's documentary in which the director immerses himself in his first love: rock music.

It's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album of the same name that brought Elton John back together after nearly four decades with his own musical hero, Leon Russell. It yielded the duo a Grammy nomination and helped usher Russell into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month.

Music producer T Bone Burnett let Crowe bring cameras into the recording sessions early last year at The Village recording studio in West Los Angeles while they came up with the new songs for the album and recorded them under Burnett's guidance, everything transpiring as Russell was recuperating from brain surgery he’d undergone shortly before the sessions got underway.

Rock music has played a central role in Crowe's feature films, including "Almost Famous" and "Jerry Maguire," a reflection of his background as a rock journalist long before he became a film director. In addition to capturing the main participants, the film also includes segments with the album's guest artists, including Neil Young and Brian Wilson. John will follow tonight's free outdoor screening with a performance.

-- Randy Lewis

Photos: Elton John and Leon Russell at the Hollywood Palladium in November during their tour for "The Union." Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times