Celluloid Improvisations logo Jazz on Film Mark Cantor

Category: Feature Films

Ten Cents A Dance

While Joe Venuti’s two-chorus solo displays his usual sense of swing and imagination, the big surprise is the solo by Richard (Dick) Fisher, presumable the same “Dick Fisher” who served as Glenn Miller’s rhythm guitarist during the period 1939 – 1940.


Sepia Cinderella, part two

SEPIA CINDERELLA is framed as a love story with music, and it should not be surprising that all of the songs performed by Billy Daniels, Sheila Guyse and Rubel Blakey are strictly popular ballads, with no jazz content. In the music of Deek Watson and John Kirby, however, we have very fine jazz performances.


Sepia Cinderella – Part 1: Mercer Ellington and his Orchestra

One of the main reasons that we are drawn to a film like SEPIA CINDERELLA is the appearance of interesting and/or historically significant musical performers. In fact, the shear amount of fine music in this feature is such that I will cover the other well-known groups — the John Kirby Sextet, and Deek Watson and the Brown Dots — in a follow-up article. Here we look closely at the big band billed as Walter Fuller and his Orchestra.


Mistaken Identity

For students of film, there is some interest generated by the construction of the plot, and the actual filmmaking, which was certainly affected by a limited budget, and actors with limited experience. The musical performances, however, demands greater attention.


Maurice Rocco in the 1930s

urice Rocco was taught piano by his mother, who provided a strong classical foundation to the instrument. This changed when Rocco enrolled at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, probably in the early 1930s. It was during this period that Rocco moved from the world of Bach and Beethoven to that of jazz, and he soon found himself performing on local radio stations in the Cincinnati area.


Lem Hawkins’ Confession featuring Clarence Williams and his Jazz Band

Micheaux saw musical entertainment as an important factor in his films, both because audiences had come to expect cabaret scenes in black cast features, but also because musical performances could extend the length of a feature with relatively little additional cost, or risk of mistakes by less experienced actors and actresses.