Documenting a 1974 reunion of count basie joy mcshann big joe turner and others ricker creates a sense of period by adding rare performance and interview footage. Studio: Kino International Release Date: 08/14/2001 Run ... more »time: 90 minutes Director: Bruce Ricker« less
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 05/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If the people pictured in this movie were just local performers in Kansas City with no historical importance, this would still be a wonderful film. However, it isn't. We have some of the most important figures in Jazz and African American music in general, getting together, socializing and reunioning after many years. Even though most were in their seventies or older when this was done in the mid 1970s, there is incredibly lively music and social interaction. The DVD is essential because those of you who do not know who the various participants are by name, can learn a little more, although not enough.
Take one performer, Eddie Durham. Durham plays one great solo on trombone on a blues number. Later he is seen discussing the change of the name of the One Oclock Jump from Blue Balls with Buster Smith. Durham played with the Bennie Moten Orchestra, the great Jimmie Lunsford band, and then with Count Basie. Durham was also the first known electric guitar player (not with Moten as the director wrongly thinks, there were no electric guitars while Moten recorded, with Moton, Basie, and Lunsford Durham used a national steel guitar and a standard acoustic guitar. His electric recordings came on the Commodore Kansas City 5 and 6 recordings.) and it was Durham who convinced Charlie Chrisitian to take up the guitar, and then the electric guitar. But more than that, Durham as one of the greatest arrangers in the history of popular music. Moten Swing played throughout the film by Basie, a Jay McShann Group, and Moten himself was arranged by Durham, as were One Oclock Jump and Jumpin at the Woodside played by McShann and Basie, as was for Dancers Only and a host of other hits for Lunsford. The one swing tune that everyone on the planet knows, In the Mood by Glenn Miller was arranged by Eddie Durham!!! This is just one guy. What I liked best on this film was the interplay between the Great Big Joe Turner and Jay McShann on a series of blues Tunes.McShann was the last of the great black Kansas City Band leaders. He persisted as a solo and trio star in the blues business introducing singers like Lowell Fulsom and Jimmy Witherspoon, and emerged as a solo performer and leader of all star groups byu the 1980s (after going back to school and getting a conservatory degree in music along the way). Today in his 90s he is still a great performing entertainer on the piano, doing clubs, albums, concerts and cruises. You can just here Jay swelling with pride with happiness with the arrival of all of the great old stars of the KC Jazz including Count Basie himself and how the great blues moaning and playing of Joe Turner inspires him. After the 1940s, most people rarely heard Turner recording with swing players. He was usually recorded with R & B or Rock players (many see his Shake Rattle and Roll as the first big rock hit, but I go with Lawdy miss Clawdy and Rocket 88). Here he is pared with McShann and other contemporaries from the Kansas City of the 1930s and 1940s and he b3ecomes so much more mellow, so much more powerful and is having so much fun as McShann pours the music out. The other thing is that this video presents the musicians in their real context. They are not performing for white well heeled festival goers or club goers, but in the Black musicians union hall where many of them played in the weekly "Spooks Breakfast" dances Basie and other held there in the 1930s to benefit the union and down and out musicians (was there much of any other kind back in the Depression?). People are dressed fine, drinking a sweet taste of scotch or whatever, and their ladies are in attendance dressed fine too. This home. There is so much fun on this DVD that I played it three times before I got up, even though it made me late for a music gig I had that night. Listen to it, play it like a record, then get the music these fine musicians made and really have a blast!"
This is the supertop of Kansas City music
Charley Brown | The Netherlands | 09/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen this on film and video about 5 times and never got bored. If you like the Kansas City Blues and Big bands of the 30ties and 40ties this is the DVD for you."
Joe Turner and friends - Kansas City Reunion
Dr. J. G. Macdonald | Glasgow, Scotland | 01/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As an account of the history of Kansas City jazz "The Last of the Blue Devils" is a bit thin on detail. However this nostalgic record of a gathering of aged musicians is very interesting and at times highly entertaining. For those who are seriously interested in tracing the history and influences of Kansas City Jazz there are plenty of other sources to be explored but Big Joe Turner and friends enjoying themselves is something well worth experiencing - and a bit of the Kansas City jazz story creeps in too."
Oklahoma Music and Lester Young footage
David | Dallas, TX USA | 11/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered this movie to supplement a class I am taking about the Culture of Jazz and Oklahoma music. The wonderful footage of some of the founding fathers of Kansas City Jazz, including the Oklahoman Jay McShann, is a treat! This is a good movie for anyone interested in what musicianship can be..."
WANG DANG DOODLE
Lester L. Carter | PHILA , PA | 02/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great documentary? So, that's what they meant in the song about 'going down to that ole union hall and pitch a wand dang doodle?' Shows so much. And we find out a bit of what it was like in the bad old days. Kids in the business today got it good and don't have to pay hardly any dues. But, it shows 'cause they won't be around like these oldtimers. Can you imagine Kanye West, 50 Cents and Jay Z at sixty years old trying to recreate what they did at twenty. Now. that's a video I'd like to stick around and see. But, since I'm sixty years old now, that means I'll die laughing at 100."