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Bluesland - A Portrait in American Music
Bluesland - A Portrait in American Music
Actors: Keith David, Albert Murray, Robert Palmer, Albert Ammons, Louis Armstrong
Director: Ken Mandel
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
NR     2002     1hr 25min

With traditions that variously intersect and parallel those of jazz, the blues has likewise emerged as a uniquely American musical dialect that has powerfully influenced music from the early 20th century forward. Whether ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Keith David, Albert Murray, Robert Palmer, Albert Ammons, Louis Armstrong
Director: Ken Mandel
Creators: David Steffen, Hisao Ebine, Judy Rich, Richard Saylor, Ralph Meyers, Toby Byron
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Rock & Roll, Armstrong, Louis, Basie, Count, Jazz, Blues, Educational, Biography, History
Studio: Bmg Special Product
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 05/07/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Start "The Year of The Blues" by Watching This!
William E Donoghue | Healdsburg CA USA | 02/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first five minutes tells it all with fine editing of a diddely bow, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Miles Davis into a mosaic of images and music that define blues and blues-based jazz for all time. You will find some new insight at which to marvel everytime you revisit this classic. One of the very finest blues documentaries ever made. You don't have to be a blues historian of even a fan to enjoy this fine DVD and gain new insights into the history not only of bluesmen or Blacks but America. The diaspora, the great migration from the deep South to the North was, at the time, the greatest peacetime migration in human history and its story is told in Bluesland. Toby Byron and his associates are to be celebrated for this excellent work of art."
This DVD sucks. Buy somethign else.
Matty Rue | San Francisco, CA | 01/13/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"More stock footage woven between three old guys too busy talking about, to actually live the blues. The rare footage of Bessie smith, Billie Holiday, etc., etc. (almost all the greats are listed as having footage on here) is non-existent and pretty much adds up to a couple of promotional photos. Lame. To top it all off, it's even incfredibly short, but I didn't even notice that much. Poor."
Dont buy this II
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 12/08/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Many DVD compilations put together stock footage, film of photograph, and whatever the maker thinks he or she can steal without copyright and calls it authentic. As you become knowledgeable of these things, you know you are cheated, because these usually come from larger film that is often available online on YouTube, or from not-for-profit sites, or on DVDs that can be purchased where you hear an entire performance. Any compilation that has so many disparate people who are not really of the same genre, much as I adore every person mentioned here and own dvds of their performances, is not going to be thorough and is not going to same anything but glib cliches. If you read the above praise of this, you find all sorts of misknowledge of Jazz, blues, African
American history, and the subjects of this DVD. As someone who writes and researches on the blues and African American music seriously, I detest the way that marketing gets in the way of information. The average non-specialist deserves accurate and useful information just as much as a specialist.

Check out my other reader comments and my listmania page for lists on blues, old time music black and white, banjos, swing jazz, Western Swing, turn of the century African American musics and much more non-music."
A Look At The Evolution Of The Blues- In One Place At One Ti
Alfred Johnson | boston, ma | 08/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Okay, apparently I will review any item that comes my way that has even the remotest connection with the blues, the history of the blues, or the individual performances of blues artists, great and small. I confess to being an aficionado and have been since my jaded youth. However, I know damn well that not everyone either shares that addiction or has heard enough to make a judgment. Thus, while I now tend to shy away from anthologies and general histories on this subject and have been honing in on individual genres and styles within the broad terms of what the blues are, when one of those crosses my desk that seems reasonably well-done and gives good sense of where the blues came from and....where it is going I will take the time to write a few word about it, especially as here there when there is a great deal of rare film footage involved in the production.

"Bluesland" easily fits those criteria just mentioned, and if there is just a little too much push of the blues as a central American gene in relationship to other musical forms by the presenter and "talking heads" that always feature in such documentaries, it hits all the known high spots of the blues experience and has some very, very good documentary footage accompanying the presentation. Like? Well, like old Son House flailing away on that National guitar of his. Or Muddy Waters tearing the place up in 1960 at the staid old Newport Folk Festival with his "Hoochie Goochie Man" that had them dancing in the aisles. Or Duke Ellington leading the band in different variations of his classic "Ko-Ko" (including clips shot at the famed Harlem Cotton Club.). Yes, now you get the idea. Some of this footage is incredible.

But enough of the homage to the film footage. The central theme is the evolution of the genre from back in post-Civil War plantation days through Jim Crow sharecropping days that formed the music. Then it moves to the cities in the early part of the 20th century, in the South at first, then upriver to places like Memphis, Chicago and Kansas City. With the urbanization came the key changeover to electric sound in the post World War II period. The story from there is one of a mix and match and partial ellipse with the rise of rock and rock and then back up front again when some British kids, who had been spoon-fed in the late 1950s on it while we were listening to Bobby Vee or whoever, starting linking up wit the likes of Muddy Waters. And then...well we will wait and see. But, if you have any interest at all in the blues or our common musical heritage here in America then you shouldn't wait.