This film clip — it is rather low res, the entire twenty minute film elements currently out for a 4K restoration and scan — comes from the home movies shot by Andy and Mary MacKay in the early 1940s. They not only filmed from the front row of various theaters in downtown Los Angeles, but also at informal sessions in their home. The most tantalizing footage comes from JUMP FOR JOY, the 1941 Duke Ellington “revusical” presented at the Mayan Theater. (This will all be shared in an upcoming documentary on the musical stage presentation.) Among the orchestras captured by the MacKays are those of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Jimmie Lunceford and Xavier Cugat. Vocalists and soloists include Jimmy Rushing, Big Joe Turner, Nat “King” Cole and Jimmy Blanton.
In this brief sample we see Nat Cole on stage at the Orpheum Theater, along with Benny Carter, as well as a session in the MacKay’s living room with Art Tatum, Slam Stewart, Bumps Meyers on tenor sax, and Eddie Barefield on clarinet.