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December 22, 1999
Jazz Film Series Begins at Library of Congress January 10
"Louis Prima: The Wildest" First Film on Schedule
For the fifth year in a row, the Library is presenting a series of films in January about major jazz figures in its Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E. All programs are free, although seating is limited. No reservations will be taken, and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. The programs begin at 7 p.m., with doors to the theater opening at 6:30 p.m. This series is curated by Senior Studio Engineer Larry Appelbaum, with support from the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division and the Music Division of the Library of Congress.
January 10: "Louis Prima: The Wildest" (Deep C Productions, 1999; director, Don McGlynn; producer, Joe Lauro; 82 minutes, color, video; LC Collection).
Trumpeter, singer, bandleader Louis Prima (1911-79) was a respected jazz musician and uninhibited entertainer. He wrote the swing (and retro-swing) anthems "Sing, Sing Sing" and "Jump, Jive & Wail," rocked Las Vegas in the 1950s with singer and spouse Keely Smith, and climaxed his career with his role in Disney's Jungle Book film, singing "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)." This new documentary includes interviews with sidemen and ex-wives, and features rare and unforgettable footage of Prima's film and television appearances. The program will be introduced by Rusty Hassan, who teaches jazz history at Georgetown and American universities and has a radio program about jazz on WPFW-FM.
January 13: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Harold Arlen" (Deep C Productions, 1999; director, Don McGlynn; producers, Myron Meisel, Joe Lauro, Don McGlynn; 72 minutes, color DVD, LC Collection).
Every jazz fan knows the songs of Harold Arlen. In this tribute to one of the great composers of the century, Frank Sinatra is shown crooning "One for My Baby"; Cab Calloway sings "Blues in the Night"; Duke Ellington and Lena Horne perform their respective versions of "Stormy Weather"; and Bing Crosby does "Accentuate the Positive." In addition, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, and Mel Torme interpret the Arlen classics "Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home," "Old Black Magic," "Come Rain or Come Shine," and "A Sleeping Bee." The music is interspersed with excerpts of Harold Arlen's home movies, including rare, behind-the-scenes footage from "The Wizard of Oz," and private moments with George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Oz collaborator Yip Harburg. The film will be introduced by Mark Horowitz, a Music Specialist in the Music Division at the Library of Congress.
January 20: "Joe Williams: Portrait in Song" (Jazz Image Inc., 1997; producer, director, Burrill Crohn; 56 minutes, color video) and "But Then, She's Betty Carter" (Eye of the Storm Productions Inc. 1980; producer, director, writer, Michelle Parkerson; 53 minutes, color, 16mm).
The jazz world recently lost several important singers who set the highest standards with their ability to interpret, improvise and swing. Joe Williams, sometimes referred to as Count Basie's "No. 1 Son," is the subject of a documentary shot during a weekend concert with the Basie Orchestra at Hamilton College in 1996. Highlights include archival footage of Williams and Basie on the Pat Boone Show in 1959, Williams and fellow blues shouter Jimmy Rushing at Newport in 1962 and an extraordinary glimpse of Williams watching and singing along with a film clip of himself from an earlier era.
Be-bop vocalist and educator Betty Carter is considered one of the greatest pure jazz singers of the 20th century. In this revealing documentary, Carter emerges as a strong-willed woman of integrity who created her own opportunities and persevered, despite mistreatment by major record companies and an indifferent music business. The program will be introduced by Ira Sabin, chairman and founder of JAZZTIMES magazine.
January 24: "Jazz 625: Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk" (BBC 1964-65; director, Terry Henebery; 110 minutes, b&w, video, LC Collection).
By the mid-1960s, it was rare to find much jazz on television. In the United States, jazz was mostly found on the NET (National Educational Television) network. In England, the BBC documented many British and American groups in a series called Jazz 625. This evening's programs from this landmark series features three important jazz pianists. Erroll Garner generated enormous momentum and swing with his block chords and way of manipulating tempo. Bill Evans combined a subtle touch with harmonic sophistication, which made him one of the most influential musicians of his generation. Thelonious Monk developed an idiosyncratic style that was avant-garde, yet rooted in tradition. His compositions, including "Round Midnight," "Straight No Chaser," "Well You Needn't," "Misterioso" and others, are an important part of the jazz repertoire.
The program will be introduced by John Edward Hasse, curator of American music at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. He is author of Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington and editor of Jazz: The First Century.
January 27: "A Man Called Adam" (Trace-Mark Productions/Embassy Pictures Corp., 1966; director, Leo Penn; producers, James Warren, Ike Jones; screenplay, Les Pines, Tina Rome; 99 minutes, b&w, 16mm).
This backstage melodrama about nonviolence and issues of race, based loosely on Miles Davis, stars Sammy Davis Jr. as a trumpeter (ghosted on the soundtrack by Nat Adderley). The cast includes Louis Armstrong, Ossie Davis, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Cicely Tyson. Featured musicians include Jo Jones, Buster Bailey, Tyree Glenn, Benny Powell, Frank Wess, Hank Jones and "Pops" Foster. The program will be introduced by Julian Euell, a jazz bassist who played and recorded with John Coltrane, Mal Waldron, Phineas Newborn, Gigi Gryce, Kenny Dorham and others. He is a former Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and former Director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archive.
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