The third program in our series presents films on Ragtime, Jazz and Swing.
"I Can Hypnotise ‘Dis Nation" After the success of the movie, “The Sting” in the early 1970s, people reckoned that they knew all about Ragtime. But did we? This film includes the oldest known piece of film (1898) showing what the cakewalk was really like. Also extracts from The Royal Ballet production based on Scott Joplin’s music, “Elite Syncopations”. There are extracts of Joplin’s only surviving opera, “Treemonisha” - staged by the Houston Grand Opera. There is also rare early film of Irving Berlin ("Alexander’s Ragtime Band") as well as film of Joplin’s birthplace and of the madhouse where he died. Although reference is made to other early ragtime composers, this film is essentially the story of Scott Joplin – an extraordinary tragedy of failure, frustration, pride, of the black man’s struggle to achieve for himself a proper place in American society. The film includes the last-ever interview given by the great Eubie Blake - age 92 at the time. But with a mind and wit as sharp as a pin. His recollections of Scott Joplin and his playing of early piano rags specially for the film are quite priceless.
"Jungle Music" focuses on Jazz. Jazz is not a black music, nor a white music. Nor is it structureless improvisation. Nor did it originate in New Orleans. As created at the turn of the century throughout the Amerian south, it had a quite specific and limited meaning. Its form was strict, as were the morals and musical principles which guided its early exponents. This film examines the origins of jazz, and shows how these were exploited and eventually lost by greed. Jazz is a story of apartheid in music in which a unique blend of white musical discipline and black sensibility was comprised and laid waste. We will hear music and recollections from many of jazz's key players - including: Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and George Shearing.
"Swing That Music!" For most of its history, so-called "popular music" has rarely been that which most people like. Jazz, for instance, has always been a minority interest. But in the era that was dominated by swing, the music and its popularity were equally matched. White musicians became bored with the asinine popular music they were expected to play, music pumped out by Tin Pan Alley, and tried to emulate the style and freedom of their black counterparts. Most of them were too intelligent as musicians to indulge in mere imitation. What they created was the first white music based on black music that was not stolen from black music. Fabulous performances and interviews with Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra among many.
Introduced by Tony Palmer