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Filmography - Popular Music: Jazz

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011

Popular Music Filmography - Jazz

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011. 

Some streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library – including the Music Library located in the Katzen Center. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date holdings please refer to Library Search.




Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Live in '58 . Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (55 min.). One of the finest lineups in the history of jazz - Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt, Benny Golson, and the legendary trumpet player, Lee Morgan. This historic concert, filmed in Belgium in 1958, is the only known visual of this influential band. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 40

At the jazz band ball:  Early hot jazz, song and dance 1925-1933. 2000. 1 videodisc (60 min.). A collection of early film clips (1925-1933), featuring song, dance, and instrumental performances of some of the giants of the Jazz Age, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Paul Whiteman, the Dorsey Brothers, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Features clips of Bessie Smith's only screen performance, Bix Beiderbecke's sole appearance in a sound film, and an early Lee DeForest sound film of Ben Bernie's orchestra in which Jack Pettis plays what is probably the first jazz solo on film. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 91

Bird. 2001. 1 videodisc (160 min.). Feature film. The life of legendary jazz musician Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, directed and produced by jazz fan, Clint Eastwood. The film uses actual recordings by Parker with the backgrounds removed, and accompaniment by modern musicians attuned to the Yardbird's improvisations. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 1190

Buddy Rich: Live in '78.  Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (75 min.). This concert, taped in Holland in 1978, showcases one of the tightest big bands in history, featuring Buddy's group Killer Force. Standout performances include Grand Concourse and Channel One Suite, featuring Buddy's signature drum solo. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 45

Chet Baker: Live in '64 & '79. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (71 min.). Featuring two concerts by the foremost interpreter of the West Coast school of cool jazz. Filmed in Europe 15 years apart, these two shows seen together provide an overview of Baker's illustrious career. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 48

Count Basie: Live in '62. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (ca. 56 min.). Features one of the greatest big band orchestras captured at the height of their considerable powers. This recently discovered concert is the earliest known complete concert of Count Basie and his orchestra released on DVD. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 47

Dizzy Gillespie: Live in '58 & '70. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (85 min.). Two concerts, filmed in Belgium in 1958 and Denmark in 1970, feature one of the founding fathers of bebop. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 41

Ella Fitzgerald: Live in '57 & '63. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (56 min.). The "First Lady of Song" is featured in Belgium in 1957 performing with jazz greats Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Jo Jones, and the legendary Oscar Peterson. The next show is an in-studio performance from 1963, taped in Sweden. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 46

A great day in Harlem. 2005. 2 videodiscs (Disc 1 60 min.). A great day in Harlem tells the story of Art Kane's famous 1958 group photograph of the jazz greats of the period. Includes home movie footage of that day of the musicians arriving and greeting each other the morning of the shoot. Also includes conversations with musicians and archival performance footage. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 28

Jazz: Episode one: Gumbo. 2000. 1 videodisc (90 min.). Jazz is born in New Orleans at the turn of the century emerging from several forms of music including ragtime, marching bands, work songs, spirituals, creole music, funeral parade music and above all, the blues. Musicians profiled here who advanced early jazz are Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Freddie Keppard, and musicians of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 103

Jazz: Episode two: Gift. 2000. 1 videodisc (120 min.). From 1917 through 1924 the "Jazz Age" begins with speakeasies, flappers and easy money for some. The story of jazz becomes a tale of two cities, Chicago and New York and of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, whose lives and music will span three-quarters of a century. This episode also follows the careers of jazz greats James Reese Europe, King Oliver, Willie Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman and James P. Johnson. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 104

Jazz: Episode three: Our language. 2000. 1 videodisc (120 min.). By 1924 to 1928 jazz is everywhere in America and spreading abroad. For the first time, soloists and singers take center stage, transforming the music with their distinctive voices. This episode traces the careers of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Sidney Bechet, Bessie Smith, Earl Hines, Ethel Waters, Bix Beiderbecke, the first great white jazz artist and Benny Goodman, the son of Jewish immigrants. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 105

Jazz: Episode four: The true welcome home. 2000. 1 videodisc (ca. 120 min.). Amid the hard times of the Depression new dances, the Lindy Hop and Swing, caught on at the dance halls of New York even as the jobless lined the streets and drought ruined Midwest farms. Jazz, during 1929 through 1935, lifted the nation's spirit. Record sales boomed while Armstrong became a major entertainer as singer, trumpeter, band leader, radio and film performer. Ellington's elegance, compositions, brilliant band films and recordings created a huge following in America and abroad. This segment also visits the careers of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Billy Rose, Chick Webb, Fats Waller, Art Tatum and the record producer, John Hammond.  MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 106

Jazz: Episode five: Swing, pure pleasure. 2000. 1 videodisc (90 min.). In the mid 1930s, as the Great Depression refuses to lift, Benny Goodman finds himself hailed as the "King of Swing" and becomes the first white bandleader to hire black musicians. He has a host or rivals among them, Chick Webb, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Glen Miller and Artie Shaw. Louis Armstrong heads a big band of his own, while Duke Ellington continues his independent course, but great black artists still can't eat or sleep in many of the hotels where they perform. Billie Holiday emerges from a childhood of tragedy to begin her career as the greatest of all female jazz singers. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 107

Jazz: Episode six: Swing, the velocity of celebration. 2000. 1 videodisc (105 min.). In the late 1930s, as the Great Depression deepens, jazz thrives. The saxophone emerges as an iconic instrument of the music; this segment introduces two of its masters, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Young migrates to Kansas City, where a vibrant music scene is prospering with musicians such as trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and drummers Jo Jones and Chick Webb. Out of this ferment emerges pianist Count Basie, who forms a band that epitomizes the Kansas City sound. Billie Holiday cuts recordings while other women musicians, including pianist Mary Lou Williams and singer Ella Fitzgerald emerge on the jazz scene. Benny Goodman holds the first-ever jazz concert at Carnegie Hall while Duke Ellington tours Europe. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 108

Jazz: Episode seven: Dedicated to chaos. 2000. 1 videodisc (105 min.). When America enters WWII in 1941, swing becomes a symbol of democracy and entertainers like Dave Brubeck, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw take their music to the armed forces overseas. In Nazi-occupied Europe, gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt blends jazz with his own musical traditions. In New York Billie Holiday is unofficial queen despite a growing addiction to narcotics. Duke Ellington, assisted by the gifted young arranger, Billy Strayhorn, brings his music to ever-greater heights. After dark a small underground of gifted young musicians led by the trumpet virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonists Charlie Parker and Ben Webster begin to develop a new fast and intricate way of playing, developing a new music called bebop. Meanwhile in 1945, black soldiers return home to the same racism they fought against, and a growing unrest sets the seeds for future rebellions. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 109

Jazz: Episode eight: Risk. 2000. 1 videodisc (120 min.). Between 1945 and 1955 jazz splinters into different camps: cool and hot, East and West, traditional and modern. One by one, the big bands leave the road, but Duke Ellington keeps his band together, while Louis Armstrong puts together a small group, the "All-Stars." Promoter Norman Granz insists on equal treatment for every member of his integrated troupes on his Jazz at the Philharmonic Tours. Meanwhile, bebop musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker are creating some of the most inventive jazz ever played but a devastating narcotics plague sweeps through the jazz community, ruining lives and changing the dynamics of performance. And a number of great performers including Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, Paul Desmond, Bille Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Lewis find new ways to bring new audiences to jazz. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 110

Jazz: Episode nine: The adventure. 2000. 1 videodisc (120 min.). Between 1955 and 1960 rhythm and blues and rock ' roll erode jazz' audiences but the music still enjoys tremendous creativity. Saxophonist Sonny Rollins and trumpeter Clifford Brown make their marks while Duke Ellington emerges stronger than ever and Miles Davis and John Coltrane make legendary albums. Louis Armstrong jeopardizes his career when he condemns the government for its failure to act on racism in Little Rock, Ark. Drummer Art Blakely and others attempt to win back R & B audiences to jazz. As stars such as Billie Holiday fade out, others such as Sarah Vaughan burn brightly and newcomers such as Ornette Coleman begin to push the music into uncharted territories. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 111

Jazz: Episode ten: A masterpiece by midnight. 2000. 1 videodisc (ca. 120 min.). In the 1960s jazz fragments into the avant-garde and many divided schools of thought. Many jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon are forced to leave America in search of work while other use the music as a form of social protest: Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and Archie Shepp make overtly political musical statements. John Coltrane appeals to a broad audience before his untimely death. Saxophonist Stan Getz helps boost a craze for bossa nova music, but in the early 1970s jazz founders Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington pass away. Miles Davis leads a movement of jazz musicians who incorporate elements of rock and soul into their music and "fusion" wins listeners. By the mid-1980's jazz begins to bounce back led by Wynton Marsalis and a new generation of musicians. Now as it approaches its centennial, jazz is still alive, still changing and still swinging. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 112

Jazz parades: Feet don't fail me now. 1991. 1 streaming video file (60 min.). Folklorist Alan Lomax explores America's diverse cultural heritage through songs, dance, story and festival. This segment looks at the birth of jazz. "Feet don't fail me now" is the theme song of the jazz revival of  New Orleans, where the music makes you want to move and the movement takes you into the streets to do your thing. The words are English but the sentiment and the rhythm are African -- the magic combination that birthed the good time music of this raunchy Creole city. Streaming video.,126

Lady Day: The many faces of Billie Holiday. Masters of American music series. 2009. 1 videodisc (59 min.). Most presentations feature Lady Day as the sad victim of hard times and drugs. Mining a treasure trove of new information, the producers set the record straight - and beautifully. In a voice that is Billie-like in its rasping wiseness and its ring, stage and screen star Ruby Dee reads from Holiday's autobiography, Lady sings the blues. DVD 7515

Lady sings the blues. 2005. 1 videodisc (143 min.). Feature film.  Diana Ross stars in this musical drama charting the life of Billie Holiday, a life tormented by racism and drug abuse. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 1857

Louis Armstrong: Live in '59. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (55 min.). Filmed in Belgium in 1959, this set features many of Satchmo's greatest songs. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 42

New Orleans. 2000. 1 videodisc (110 min.). Feature film.  Nick, the proprietor of a Bourbon Street gambling joint, an artistic haven for African-American musicians who gather and jam from dusk til dawn, falls in love with an opera-singing socialite. After losing his nightclub Nick tries over the course of many years to get jazz the respect and audience it deserves. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 1

Quincy Jones: Live in '60. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (80 min.). Two concerts, filmed in Belgium and Switzerland in 1960, spotlight a young "Q" conducting his "dream band" are some of the finest examples of big band jazz. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 43

'Round midnight. 2008. 1 videodisc (131 min.). Dramatizes the friendship between an aging alcoholic jazz musician and a young French jazz fan. Inspired by the real-life friendship between jazz pianist Bud Powell and Francis Paudras. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 5785

The Spirit moves: A history of Black social dance on film, 1900-1986. 2008. 3 videodiscs (118 min.). Jazz dance from the turn of the century to 1950: "Filmed at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the 1950s, Part 1 features demonstrations of ragtime and jazz dances by well-known artists at the Savoy, including James Berry, Pepsi Bethel, Teddy Brown, Sandra Gibson, Leon James, Al Minns and Frankie Manning.  Dances in Part 1 include the Cakewalk, Charleston, Black Bottom, Suzie Q, Shake Blues, Gutbucket Blues, Trunky Doo, Big Apple, and some aerial Lindy Hop" -- Container. Savoy Ballroom of Harlem, 1950s: "Part 2 features footage of dancing by the general public... [including] Al Minns and Leon James.  Dances in Part 2 include Bebop, Lindy, Shim Sham, Charleston, and an aerial Lindy contest for the Harvest Moon Ball Championships"--Container. Postwar era: "Filmed at P.S. 28 (Brooklyn) and at the Palladium (New York), Part 3 features dances from the 'Bebop Era'.  Dances in Part 3 include the Flying Harlem Home Style, Bebop improvisations, the Mambo and an Applejack Challenge.  Prominent dancers in Part 3 include Teddy Brown, Sugar Sullivan, Jack Asquiew, Leroy Appens, Tandaleo and Jackie" -- Container. DVD 7181-7183

Thelonious Monk: Live in '66. Jazz icons. 2006. 1 videodisc (62 min.). Thelonious Monk revolutionized jazz with his innovative musical approach and these performances fillmed in Norway and Denmark in 1966 allow viewers the rare opportunity to experience Monk's genius up close. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 44