Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Lullaby of Harlem|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
It's a smooth and gentle ride on the A Train to Harlem. Travel back to the early days of rhythm and blues at old haunts like The Apollo, The Savoy, and The Cotton Club in this one hour musical special "Lullaby of Harlem." ... more »
Rare jazz videos from late 1930's to early 50's
Gary Coffrin | San Jose, California, USA | 01/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a strong and varied collection of music videos.
The visual and sound quality range from fair to very good. Video clarity and resolution are usually good, but several times there is the compression of dynamic range and loss of detail in the darker areas that comes when dealing with deteriorated masters or that can occur when making copies of copies.
This cheaply produced video has a playing time of just 49 minutes (not the one hour promised on the package). There is no background data presented for any of the performers. A one-sentence introduction for each number is it. No funds were sent on hiring a writer or on cleaning up the videos.
Other annoying minuses:
- There is no on-screen ID of specific musicians.
- The container notes are simply wrong about film locations. Allegedly containing live clips from the Cotton Club, Apollo Theater, and Savoy Ballroom, some clips are from TV shows, some from movies, and some are `soundies' -- short music programs produced in the 1940's that were shown in a machine called a Panoram or sometimes shown as extras in movie theaters. Passport Video makes no attempt to specify a source and date for each number.
The rewarding pluses:
- The Delta Rhythm Boys are amazingly powerful. Their singing is precise and tight. Their vocal arrangements are strong and the harmonies are sophisticated. Anyone enjoying jazz or even pop vocal groups should check these guys out. Wow!
- The Mill Brothers always swing. I love hearing their family harmonies.
- Fats Waller performs Ain't Misbehaving. His clowning and mugging are there in strong measure. Man, he could sure play the piano!
- Rare footage of the Count Basie 7, probably from 1951, is a total gas! Basie played the piano much more aggressively than was the norm after he reformed his big band in 1952. Energizing music not to be missed!
- Duke Ellington with Ben Webster taking solo honors and a showy dance routine with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. Fun music, exciting visuals!
- Billy Eckstine sings a ballad, and the video captures a powerful singer at the peak of his powers. He was probably the first romantic singer to cross the color barrier. Prior to Eckstine, most Black American vocalists concentrated on blues or novelty numbers.
- Dizzy Gillespie leads one of the first big bands to play bebop. Fun and historically valuable.
- Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Nat Cole, and Cab Calloway round out the offerings.
Bottom line: Fans of classic American jazz will wish the tunes went on forever! Production values and packaging accuracy deserve one or two stars. However, the music, the rareness of the visual treats, and the bargain price all help me overlook the annoyances and give the DVD five stars."