Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Here's Idris Elba's Response to Commentary That He's "Too Street" to Play James Bond Here's Idris Elba's Response to Commentary That He's "Too Street" to Play James Bond Carl Franklin Is Casting an Actor for His Tupac Bio (No Marcc Rose from 'Straight Outta Compton'?) Carl Franklin Is Casting an Actor for His Tupac Bio (No Marcc Rose from 'Straight Outta Compton'?) 'Dope' Is Heading Back to Theaters for a Second Run (Awards Season Contention, Perhaps?) 'Dope' Is Heading Back to Theaters for a Second Run (Awards Season Contention, Perhaps?) BET Launches Original Series “THE BET LIFE OF…” - Will Look at Musical Careers of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj & Trey Songz BET Launches Original Series “THE BET LIFE OF…” - Will Look at Musical Careers of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj & Trey Songz Trailer for Season 2 of 'Z Nation' (Kellita Smith Is Fierce on the Show!) Trailer for Season 2 of 'Z Nation' (Kellita Smith Is Fierce on the Show!) Will Smith Puts on His "Nigerian Accent" in First Trailer for NFL Drama 'Concussion' Will Smith Puts on His "Nigerian Accent" in First Trailer for NFL Drama 'Concussion' This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... This "Faith-Based" Drama Is Giving 'Straight Outta Compton' a Run for Its Money This Weekend... BET and TV One Will Go Head-to-Head Tonight With Original Movies Airing at the Exact Same Time BET and TV One Will Go Head-to-Head Tonight With Original Movies Airing at the Exact Same Time Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) At Least 2 More Superhero Movies Are in Viola Davis' Future... At Least 2 More Superhero Movies Are in Viola Davis' Future... Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Watch 5 Clips from Regina King's Feature Directorial Debut 'Let The Church Say Amen' Starring Naturi Naughton Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Watch The Influential And Truly Unique 1944 Musical Short 'Jammin’ The Blues' (Perhaps The Greatest Music Video Ever?)

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act July 9, 2014 at 7:41PM

Gjon Mili's 1944 Warners musical short 'Jammin' The Blues' could be considered the greatest music video ever made, decades before the term was ever used. Decide for yourself
0
Jammin' The Blues

Following up on Tambay’s piece about the 1943 MGM short Shoe Shine Boy (HERE), I’ve gone back into the S&A vault to bring back a piece I first wrote over three years ago about another major studio short film that is definitely worth watching again and again.

But as always, some background first.

During the beginning of the sound era in the late 1920's, through the end of the 1940's, studios (particularly Columbia, MGM and Warner Bros, who produced the most), made hundreds of short films. Running the gamut from comic to dramatic to musical to dance shorts, they were made to be shown with the studio's feature films and "B" pictures.

In fact, there's one that Warners made back in 1941 with Katherine Dunham's dance company, Carnival Of Rhythm, that builds to a frenzy towards the end, that is so daring in its overt sexuality, I'm amazed it got past the Motion Picture Production Code censorship and decency board, which oversaw everything in movies back then. If I ever find a complete version of it, I'll be sure to post it. (Still haven’t found it yet, but I’m still looking.)

But the short below, made in 1944, "Jammin The Blues" by Warners, is perhaps the greatest musical short made during that period. In fact, it just might be the greatest the greatest music video ever made, if one wants to look at it that way. 

It features some of the greatest and most influential jazz musicians of all time, including the legendary saxophonist Lester Young, who, for the uninitiated, is the first musician who appears in the short with his signature "sideways" hold of his sax.

Not only was Young one of the truly great jazz saxophonists, he was also a devoted, lifelong friend of Billie Holiday, to whom he gave the famous nickname "Lady Day" (raise your hand if you know why he, allegedly, gave her that nickname. Let’s see how good you are).

The short (which is now available as part of a 6 DVD set of jazz and swing Warner shorts on the Warner Archive DVD label) was directed by the equally influential Albanian born photographer Gjon Mili (go HERE to see an image of Mili directing the film on the Warners lot).

Mili became world renowned for his use of strobe flash lighting to create experimental multiple image photographs of dancers, athletes and musicians in action, which he recreated, to an extent, in this short, which was also the only film he directed.

The short itself, aside from the great music and singing by Marie Bryant, who was also well known for her "exotic dancing," which you'll definitely see in the film, is an evocatively photographed, almost experimental film that was totally unlike any short, or feature film for that matter, made at the time. Enjoy!

This article is related to: Shorts, Short Film


Shadow & ActNewsletter