Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Last of the Blue Devils is an affectionate backward glance at the Kansas City "blues" scene of the 1930s. Established as a mecca for jazz musicians during the Prohibition Era, K.C. spawned some of the best musical talent of the era. The film's nostalgia is leavened with mild outrage in noting that, while many of the best blues men were permitted to strut their stuff before white audiences, none were allowed to utilize anything other than "colored only" facilities. Count Basie is the biggest "name" represented in the film, though this should not diminish the contribution of such dynamos as Big Joe Turner, Walter Page and Jay McShann. Last of the Blue Devils was produced and directed by Bruce Ricker, who later turned out a praiseworthy documentary on Thelonious Monk.
blues-music, community, jazz, retrospective, roots [origins]