Excellent, but could have been more complete
R. Scharba | Chicago, IL USA | 03/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This stuff is great for anyone who likes jazz and/or pop music of the '30s and '40s, and perhaps for early film buffs as well. It's pure show business history, and fascinating to see what these performers, some of whom you might only know from old 78 records, actually looked like in their heyday.However, those who own the original laserdisc box set of this collection should be aware that its contents is spread over this DVD and its companion, "Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 02 - The Best of Big Bands & Swing." The problem is, 21 shorts from the laserdisc set didn't make it to these DVDs, so they are not really a replacement for the laserdiscs. Unless the missing titles make it to a third DVD, it's necessary for the decicated collector to hold on to that laserdisc set. Considering the huge storage capacity of DVDs, it seems like they could have combined the entire original collection into one release, with double-sided or dual-layer DVDs to hold it all. Their incompleteness is the only reason I don't give it 5 stars, but for those who won't miss the missing titles, this is still a fascinating collection of old musical shorts."
Bessie Belts It Out!
Old movie fan | 12/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD has (as far as I know) the only performance ever filmed of Bessie Smith-St. Louis Blues. And what a performance! The vehicle is a he-done-her-wrong type melodrama but opera isn't known for its original stories. And, believe me, this is blues opera, with a chorus! I read somewhere that James C. Johnson, the jazz-blues pianist-composer(of the Charleston) was responsible for the arrangement here. Very different from the record version on her Complete Recordings. She really pulls out all the stops here! What a powerful performance! Unfortunately the sound is definitely not hifi. But what would Bessie have produced had she lived!The other performances are mostly notable. Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and an unknown at the time, Billie Holiday.One warning! The racial stereotyping in some areas of the DVD is enough to make you take a second breath. The greatness of the performances and the chance to see these performers is what makes this DVD great."
An Absolute Must Have
Barry Gross | San Diego, Ca. United States | 09/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just read the names of the folks in this dvd. That alone got me this dvd. I don't know about everyone else, but my image of Louis Armstrong has been an older man, sort of laid back. I've heard alot of his recordings from his earlier years, but never had much of image to fix to him in his younger years. He's still the allmighty "Satchmo", full of youth and going wild. His stance while playing is like he's telling the world... "Yes.... indeed I am the allmighty Satchmo". The dude is awsome.And Cab Callaway.... the boy goes wild with his hair flying and singing. I've never seen him in any films, except the Blues Brothers. Again it's good to see him as well as "Satchmo" in their youthful wild and rowdy days.I could go on and on. Again just look at the names featured on this dvd. It just don't get no better. Do yourself a favor and get this dvd."
Fine assortment of early Paramount shorts featuring jazz and
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 09/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 1-The Best Of Jazz And Blues gives us a whopping ten short films from the early days of "talkies." These films are not necessarily well preserved but they sure do give us fine examples of how jazz and blues were introduced to the movie theater crowd from the very beginning of talking pictures.
The selections are great; you can select one and watch them out of order or you can just let the DVD play through and watch them all as I did.
The first short features the great Louis Armstrong in an outrageous number where he plays trumpet clad only in a leopard skin outfit with bubbles up to his knees and bubbles all over his band! Duke Ellington And His Orchestra are featured more than once; in A Bundle Of Blues Duke plays the piano and the arrangement for his Orchestra lacks nothing. Look for a wonderful rendition of "Stormy Weather," too. Duke Ellington fans will be fascinated as I was when they watch Duke's first on screen performance in the February, 1929 release of Black And Tan Fantasy. Duke's got a show to do; and although he warns his woman not to dance because of her bad heart she goes on anyway. The music in Black And Tan Fantasy charms me with its beauty, too. In addition, look for a very young Billie Holiday in Symphony In Black with is also with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.
One major highlight, even if it's controversial, is the great Bessie Smith starring in a short entitled St. Louis Blues. Bessie's man doesn't give her the love she gives to him; and we see just how poorly he treats his lady Bessie. The film then gives us a very memorable scene in which Bessie is drinking at the bar to forget her woes as she sings "St. Louis Blues" to perfection! Wow, how she could project! She was a star amongst stars.
Another grand number stars Jack Teagarden with His Orchestra, Hoagy Carmichael and Meredith Blake. Look for Meredith to swing brightly on "I'm Wrong;" and she sings "Stardust" very, very well, too.
George Dewey Washington, another fine talent who could project extremely well when he sang, is featured in a short entitled Ol' King Cotton. Some of the words used for African Americans are embarrassingly dated but unfortunately that was considered "OK' at the time. Sigh.
There is one bonus; and although it's short you should love it. It features Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra performing a great musical arrangement for a Cuban number complete with fine dancing and aerial shots of Cuba. Wow!
Overall, jazz and blues fans do not want to miss this fine DVD collection of shorts. Yes, I understand that one reviewer notes that not all of the laserdisc shorts made it onto this DVD; and that's a shame. I will take off one star for this to make this a four star review. However, what you do get is excellent quality entertainment; and I still highly recommend this film for people who enjoy the fine arts of jazz and blues.