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Louis Prima: King of the Swingers

Louis Prima: King of the Swingers

Born in New Orleans, trumpeter, singer and entertainer Louis Prima grew up in the city's Italian-American community. He was influenced not only by New Orleans's Black jazz and folk culture but also the tradition of commedia dell'arte that dates back to 16th-century Italy. Comedy's earliest form of improv, this form of street theater poked fun at ...

News: TV / Film

Jazz Documentary: Killer B3 (2013)

Jazz Documentary: Killer B3 (2013)

Today marks the start of the third annual JazzWax Film Festival. Each December, between the holidays, I switch from music to film and hopefully introduce you to films you haven's seen in some time or have never viewed before. For my opener, I'm screening Killer B3, a fabulous 2013 documentary on the Hammond B3 organ directed, ...

News: TV / Film

BBC Documentary on Chess Records

BBC Documentary on Chess Records

In my new Rock Concert book, I interviewed Marshal Chess, son of Leonard Chess, who co-founded the fabled Chess label with his brother Phil. As readers of my book know, Marshal goes into great detail on the label's founding and how Chess artists such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley came to invent rock 'n' roll ...

News: TV / Film

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Music

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Music

You're in for a pre-Thanksgiving treat. Yesterday, I posted on a 1964 Jamaican mini documentary on ska, the island's dominant dance music of the early 1960s. Today. I found a high-resolution print of Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Music (2009). It followed ska by slowing ska down and adding a soulful groove in the mid-1960s, setting ...

News: TV / Film

Documentary: This Is Ska

Documentary: This Is Ska

In Jamaica, before reggae and rocksteady, there was ska. Emerging in the late 1950s, ska was a combination of calypso, American jazz and R&B. Ska evolved as Jamaican singers and musicians put their own spin on the sound of American pop records that were played on large sound systems built for neighborhood parties. As ska grew ...

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News: TV / Film

Documentary: Dame Shirley Bassey

Documentary: Dame Shirley Bassey

Most Americans know Shirley Bassey only from her three brassy James Bond film themes—Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. In the U.K., Dame Shirley was enormously popular from the late 1950s on. She delivered on stage the way Judy Garland did, belted songs out the way Barbra Streisand did and was as coy and as intriguing ...

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News: TV / Film

Documentary: Sonny Greenwich

Documentary: Sonny Greenwich

Canadian guitarist Sonny Greenwich is still with us. He has performed with musicians such as Charles Lloyd, Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, John Handy and Sun Ra. So I was excited when I received the following last week from Matt LeGroulx in Montreal: Hi Marc. First, thank you and Brigitte Berman for making ...

News: TV / Film

Doc: British Jazz Scene (Part 2)

Doc: British Jazz Scene (Part 2)

On Monday, my post featured Part 1 of a two-part BBC Jazz Britannia documentary on the post-war history of British jazz. Today, Part 2 (Strange Brew), starting where Part 1 left off—with pianist Stan Tracey's seminal album Jazz Suite, Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, released in 1965. In case you missed Part 1, I'm ...

News: TV / Film

Doc: Legends of Jazz Drumming

Doc: Legends of Jazz Drumming

Last week, Bruce Klauber sent along links to Legends of Jazz Drumming, a two-part documentary he co-produced and wrote in the mid-1990s. Bruce and his partners were able to get Louie Bellson, Jack DeJohnette and Roy Haynes to contribute as narrators. Part 1 covers 1920 to 1950; Part 2 covers 1940 to 1970: Here's Part 1... ...

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News: TV / Film

Documentary: Stan Tracey

Documentary: Stan Tracey

Little-known in America but a jazz force in the U.K., Stan Tracey was a British pianist who was highly influenced by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Tracey's keyboard attack was stormy, percussive and deeply felt, but he also could play straight-ahead jazz and worked and recorded with Ted Heath for years. He also was the house ...


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