[members-announce] HARLEM BLUES AND JAZ BAND DOCUMENTARY IN TRIBECA FILM FEST

Dan Kassell dankassell at juno.com
Mon Apr 26 21:21:04 EDT 2004


news/news/news/news/news/news/news/news/news/news/news/new
                    CONTACT: Dan Kassell (212)  779 - INFO

                    “THE LAST OF THE FIRST”
 
     A Feature Documentary about Extraordinary Musicians

“The Last of the First”, whose working title was 
“Architects of Swing”, 
will Premier as the only JAZZ Documentary Feature at the 
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL, 
UA Theater on 
May 2 / 7:15pm, May 4 / 2:00pm and May 8 / 6:00pm. 

	Producer Al Vollmer intended this as his unique
contribution to the legacy of jazz with a rare look at some of “the
last of the first” and one of the longest running bands in the history
of jazz.  “The subjects of this documentary are veteran jazz
musicians who started in the 1920's and 30's.  In addition to Lionel
Hampton, Milt Hinton, Hank Jones, Jonah Jones, Jay McShann and
Benny Carter, it features a group of veteran jazz musicians who to
this day embody the spirit and authenticity of early Swing-Jazz. We
want to pay tribute, give something back to these extraordinary
musicians and preserve their music and their tales for generations to
come--before it is too late.”
	This feature documentary has incorporated a wide range of
witnesses including Tony Bennett and Dr. Billy Taylor, jazz experts
such as Dan Morgenstern - Institute of Jazz Studies Rutgers and
Phil Schaap - historian, WKCR DJ and Congressman John Convers
of Michigan who passed House Resolution 57, designating jazz as
“a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should
devote our attention, support and resources”.

BACKGROUND

The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band
	Formed in 1972 by Al Vollmer with a purpose of giving
opportunities to veteran musicians of the 20's and 30's, this band is
- in the words of Dr. Billy Taylor - “a wonderful collection of
people . . . These men and women have shaped the vocabulary
we all use” and in the words of New York Times’ Peter Watrous -
“[these musicians] can still conjure up the drama that jazz demands
. . . it’s so rare to hear this type of jazz played with the necessary
immediacy that it becomes almost revelatory, a window onto
an older existence.”
	Members of the band include Al Casey (Fats Waller’s
guitarist and last living member of Waller’s Rhythm Boys);
Lawrence Lucie (guitarist with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong’s
All Stars and Benny Carter and the last living musician to have
recorded with Jelly Roll Morton); Johnny Blowers (Frank Sinatra’s
drummer for 15 years); Joey Morant (trumpeter who is able to
present Louis Armstrong’s humorous and serious sides
simultaneously) and Alex Layne (who has also supported Coleman
Hawkins, Billy Eckstine, Carmen McRae and Max Roach). 
	Noteworthy members (who have since passed on) are: Ed
Swanston (pianist in Louis Armstrong’s Orchestra in the movie
“Atlantic City”); David “Bubba” Brooks (Billy Doggett’s tenor
saxophonist); Laurel Watson (female vocalist with Duke Ellington,
Count Basie and the HBJB until 1999). Eddie Durham (electric
guitarist and trombonist with Count Basie); Johnny Williams (string
bassist with Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday);  Clyde Bernhardt
(saxophonist, a founding member) plus collaborations with
trumpeter - Doc Cheatham and vocalist - Maxine Sullivan.
	The HBJB traveled to Russia to perform the music of Louis
Armstrong at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall at the request of
conductor Yuriy Saulskiy in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of
Jazz Ambassador Louis Armstrong's birth on June 3, 2000.
For an audio/video sample that includes a vocal by Ruth Brisbane
 go to: www.a.ru.com/harlem/

RECORDINGS

HBJB
BARRON VOCA408-Vol 2  
“The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band-From Past To Present
Featuring and dedicated to Laurel Watson”, 
is available from Cadence/NorthCountry distributors 
or JazzPhone (866) 411-JASS $15.OO Postpaid. 
This CD was recorded during the period 1982-1987. 
Only Al Casey, drummers Shelton Gary and Johnny Blowers
survive.

BARRON VOCA407-Vol 1   
“The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band-From Past To Present
Featuring Doc Cheatham”. 
Recorded from 1973 to 1975 only Barbara Dreiwitz - tuba
survives. 

AL CASEY
P-VINE #5796  
“The Very Best of Swingin' Jive Guitarists” 
includes “Buck Jumpin' “, “Buck Still Jumps”(ASCAP).

FANTASY ODJCCD6752  
“Buck Jumpin’”
includes his tunes "Pantin' At The Panther Room" 
and ""Buck Jumpin'". (ASCAP).

CIRCLE CCD-176   
“The Jazz Swing All Stars: Hot Nights in Harlem” 
recorded in 1998 with trombonist Al Grey and clarinetist Sammy
Rimington who join Mr. Casey for some wonderful swing at
George and Nina Buck's Palm Court Restaurant in New Orleans. 

JAZZPOINT JP1044  
“Al Casey - A Tribute to Fats” 
recorded in Holland with pianist Red Richards.

JOHNNY BLOWERS
JAZZ INC 3921  
“Johnny Blowers and His Giants of Jazz” 
includes his drum solo “Caravan”.

BUBBA BROOKS
TCB 97702  
“Smooth Sailing” 
produced by Aleardo Buzzi in May 1995.

ED SWANSTON
HBJB Demo of “Upside Down Blues” 
is his most recent recording as pianist with Harlem Blues and Jazz
Band and fellows Al Casey, David “Bubba” Brooks, Johnny
Blowers, Larry Lucie, Joey Morant and Alex Layne for inclusion in 
“The Last of the First” and a self-produced 
CD: “Eddie Swanston & the Savoyards”.

For HBJB photos, additional history contact:  
“Dan Kassell” <dankassell at juno.com>
Tel: (212) 779-4636

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