Synopsis by Mark Deming
While there are more than a few jazz groups who specialize in the classic sounds of the music's first Golden Era, before the rise of the major swing bands in the 1940s, the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band is one combo with a difference -- it's comprised of veteran musicians who didn't learn the style from records, but were actually playing it before it fell out of favor. Ranging in age from their seventies to their nineties, the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band includes sidemen who performed with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Despite the advanced age of the musicians, the group set toes tapping while holding down a celebrated residency at New York's Louisiana Bar and Grill for six years before mounting a triumphant tour of Europe. The Last of the First is a documentary that celebrates this unique group of jazz men, featuring archival footage of many of the players in their younger days as well as contemporary interviews and performances from these living legends. The Last of the First was screened as part of the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival.
archival-footage, band [music group], blues-music, career-retrospective, concert-footage, concert-tours, jazz, musician, on-the-road, tribute