Si può suonare (e cantare) meglio di così? Playing (and singing) music at its best!


Prendi una colonna sonora di un film recente (2012) e di per sé non particolarmente brillante (soprattutto al cospetto del romanzo da cui è stato tratto, cioè On the Road di Jack Kerouac, capolavoro della Beat Generation scritto nel 1957).

Prendi una selezione che, oltre ad una serie  di composizioni originali di Gustavo Santaolalla, comprende alcuni dei principali artisti e incisioni della storia del Jazz (forma musicale intimamente legata al periodo e a questo movimento culturale).

Trovaci nell’ordine:

un paio di brani del geniale e unico Slim Gaillard, cantato e lodato da Kerouac nel libro, tra cui questo inno alla gioia:

Slim Gaillard, “Hit that Jive Jack”

Una lettura cantata su nastri originali, semplicemente toccante, dello stesso sommo scrittore:

Jack Kerouac reads “On the Road”

Un Blues moderno e straordinario di una delle più grandi interpreti del genere:

Dinah Washington, “Mean and Evil Blues”

La Bibbia del Jazz del Novecento, ovverosia l’incisione originale di Salt Peanuts da parte di Dizzy Gillespie e Charlie Parker (fari luminosi della Beat Generation) :

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker, “Salt Peanuts”

La voce unica di Lady Day e il sassofono di Pres in un’interpretazione che lascia senza parole:

Billie Holiday & Lester Young, “A sailboat in the moonlight”

L’arte di Bird ai massimi livelli:

Charlie Parker, “Ko-Ko”

Insomma, anche da un film mediocre si possono trarre grandi soddisfazioni e farsi guidare nei meandri della musica che ha fatto la Storia.


Mazz Jazz aka Professor Bop


Wanna enjoy the best of Jazz in one soundtrack? Follow the links above and buy yourself the original CD, enjoy it and read the book, one of the best ever (in my humble opinion)!


Mazz Jazz aka Professor Bop



Strange Fruit



“Southern trees bear a strange fruit…” sang Billie Holiday almost a century ago. Which fruit is she referring to? Why does it seem to grow only in the South?

First we have to look back to the past: the abolishment of slavery and involuntary servitude in the US (with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution) in no way led to the elimination of racism;
Some words  taken from a John Reed (a US political activist and journalist) speech can help us understand the problem:

“In America there live ten million Negroes who are concentrated mainly in the South. In recent years however many thousands of them have moved to the North. The Negroes in the North are employed in industry while in the South the majority are farm labourers or small farmers. The position of the Negroes is terrible, particularly in the Southern states. Paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the United States grants the Negroes full civil rights. Nevertheless most Southern states deny the Negroes these rights. In other states, where by law the Negroes possess the right to vote, they are killed if they dare to exercise this right. Negroes are not allowed to travel in the same railway carriages as whites, visit the same saloons and restaurants, or live in the same districts. There exist special, and worse, schools for Negroes and similarly special churches.” (The report goes on depicting the disheartening condition of the Afro-Americans…)

We can comprehend the reality of racial segregation, legitimated by the doctrine of “separate but equal”. As we can easily imagine, the second part of this formula was almost never taken into account.

To sum up, it was sadly easy to see a black man dangling from a tree. According to the Tuskegee Institute, in the years between 1889 and 1940 3.833 people were lynched;  90% of these murders took place in the South, and 80% of the “bodies swinging” were Afro-Americans.  Very often it wasn’t even necessary that the individual had committed a crime to lynch him: the only fact that he was black allowed the people to consider it as a “preventive action” in order to completely avoid the possibility that he could “become too much arrogant”.
Most of these crimes were promoted or directly carried out by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan): this organization still exists and during the years had seen periods of high notoriety (in the Twenties more than four million people joined it). Moreover, it is a duty to say that, according to a survey developed in the Southern States in 1939, almost six white citizens over ten were in favor of this macabre spectacle.

”Pastoral scene of the gallant south,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.”

This jazz song, which goes straight to the point referring to merciless images, was not well understood at first, or in other situations some company refused to release it, because it represented a scandal. This due to the persistence of racism among huge sectors of the US population.

To conclude, although Holiday was the first artist to perform this single, the song was originally written by Abel Meeropol, a teacher who lived in Bronx, and it was firstly published on the communist newspaper New Masses.  This song shouted something that was not to say, it sounded as a strong action of denounce and protest. Therefore the very writer felt disappointed when Billie Holiday asserted to be the author, together with her pianist.

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Alessandro Fiorucci (VD)

Fiorucci 2

What a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong bezoekt Amsterdam *29 oktober 1955


Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World ♪

Louis Armstrong (August 4th, 1901-July 6th, 1971) is one of the most important Jazz singer and trumpeter. He was Afro-American (grandson of slaves), but he was one of the first to become truly famous, despite the color of his skin. He was able to shift the focus of the music from the collective improvisation to solo performance.

He had rarely promoted his political ideas, but he criticized the president Eisenhower for his segregation policy, during the Little Rock Crisis.

He was born in New Orleans, which was a city of racial discrimination, but where ragtime (the beginning of Jazz) was appreciated. He improved his cornet playing skills in the band of the city in his early life.

In the ‘20s, during the period of maximum growth of jazz music culture, his musicianship matured so that he was one of the first Jazz man involved in trumpet solo.

After many experiences in New Orleans and Chicago, he went to Harlem, playing in the Connie’s Inn, rival of the famous Cotton Club, where he reached great success.

Because of the “Great Depression” in the early ‘30s many musicians stopped to sing, but Louis moved to Los Angeles (to the new Cotton Club), then returned to New Orleans and afterwards started a tour in Europe.

He settled permanently in Queens, NY, in 1943 where he first created the All Stars (a band of six), then recorded many important and famous songs, and won the most important prize.

Until few years before his death he continued to perform.

He is a controversial figure, he was so famous and influential, but he never used his prominence with white Americans for the Civil Rights Movement, which alienated him from members of the black community.

He was largely accepted into American society, and he had the access to many things exclusive even for whites, and this makes the members of the Afro-American community call him Uncle Tom (the phrase “Uncle Tom” has also become an epithet for a person who is slavish and excessively subservient to perceived authority figures, particularly a black or brown person who behaves in a subservient manner to white people […]).

Some musicians criticized him for not taking part strong enough to the American Civil Rights Movement, but when he spoke against Eisenhower it made national news, and he cancelled a tour in the USSR as a protest. («The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell»).

Despite this political neutrality, he wrote many songs asking for peace and inclusion, meanwhile the political reality was of racial division and segregation. One above all is What a wonderful world which conveys hope and optimism for the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to.

Many covers had been made of this song, but the original one gave Armstrong many recognitions, and climbed the charts of many countries.

Riccardo Sala (VD)


I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ How do you do?
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah

Un percorso CLIL nella storia sociale e musicale afroamericana – A CLIL introduction to afroamerican social and music history


Ho il piacere di inaugurare con questo post un nuovo progetto scolastico, organizzato con la collaborazione degli studenti delle classi quinte dell’Istituto di Istruzione Superiore Cremona di Milano.

Qui di seguito una breve presentazione dei materiali e degli argomenti che verranno utilizzati e discussi durante il modulo CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), a beneficio degli studenti interessati.

A seguire pubblicheremo dei brevi articoli di approfondimento, frutto del lavoro cooperativo docente-studenti.

Vi aspetto nel laboratorio di storia!






  • GOSPEL/SPIRITUAL: End of the Nineteenth century
  • BLUES: Beginning of the Twentieth century
  • JAZZ: ’20s-’30s
  • RHYTHM AND BLUES: ’40s-’50s
  • SOUL: ’60s
  • FUNKY: ’70s
  • HIP HOP: ’80s-’90s


Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes
I’m down, ohh, yes Lord
Sometimes I’m almost
To the ground, oh yes, Lord

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Anybody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah

If you got there before
I do, oh yes Lord
Tell all my friends, I’m
Coming too, oh yes Lord

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah

Although you see me
Goin’ on so, oh yes
I have my trials, here below
Ohh yes, Lord

Oh, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah
Ohh, glory, Hallelujah

Everyday I have the Blues

Everyday, everyday I have the blues
Everyday, everyday I have the blues
When you see me worried baby
Because it’s you I hate to lose
Oh nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Yes nobody loves me, nobody seems to care
Speaking of bad luck and trouble
Well you know I had my share
I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line
Yes I’m gonna pack my suitcase, move on down the line
Where there ain’t nobody worried
And there ain’t nobody crying

Strange fruit

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.


Shake rattle and roll

Get outta that bed
Wash your face and hands
Get outta that bed
Wash your face and hands
Well, you get in that kitchen
Make some noise with the pots and pans

Way you wear those dresses
The sun comes shinin’ through
Way you wear those dresses
The sun comes shinin’ through
I can’t believe my eyes
All that mess belongs to you

I believe to the soul
You’re the devil and now I know
I believe to the soul
You’re the devil and now I know
Well, the more I work
The faster my money goes

I said shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll
Well, you won’t do right
To save your doggone soul
Yeah, blow, Joe

Revolution will not be televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Mendel Rivers to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

The revolution will not be right back
after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Soul power

Know we need it, soul power
We got to have it, soul power
Know we want it, soul power
Got to have it, soul power
Give it to me, soul power
We need it, soul power, we need it, soul power
We got to have it, soul power
I want to get under your skin
If I get there, i’ve got to win
You need some soul, come on get some
And then you’ll know, where I’m comin’ from
I may lay in the cut and go along
And I’m still on the case and my rap is strong
Huh huh, hey
Go jump on my train, when I’m outta sight
Just check yourself, huh, and say, yeah you’re right
Huh, hit me, give me, put it there, huh
Love me tender, and love me slow
If that don’t get it, jump back for more
We gottagottagotta, get in the bracket
Brother, if you fall on the ground
Remember you’ve got to get down, down downdown…
Huh, say it again, say it
If that don’t get it, jump back for more
Huh, come on, if that don’t get it, jump back for more

Fight the power

1989 the number another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hitting your heart cause I know you got soul
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you’re missing y’all
Swinging while I’m singing
Giving whatcha getting
Knowing what I know
While the Black bands sweating
And the rhythm rhymes rolling
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be
As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you’ve realized the pride’s arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
From the heart
It’s a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothing’s strange
People, people we are the same
No we’re not the same
Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved lets get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power
Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne
Cause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Right on, c’mon
What we got to say
Power to the people no delay
To make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be



  • Barack Obama (Selma’s anniversary speech, 2015)
    • We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South.  (Applause.)  We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent.  And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge. (Applause.)We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

      We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

  • Blog:



Goodman 1


Anche questa volta, spazio soprattutto alla musica, senza troppi orpelli e parole.

Non si può però non introdurre uno dei concerti più famosi di tutti i tempi, l’esordio di Benny Goodman nel tempio newyorchese della musica classica, registrato dal vivo il 16 gennaio 1938. Testimonianza fondamentale di un passaggio decisivo per la diffusione del Jazz presso il largo pubblico e il cambiamento epocale che va sotto il nome di Swing Era. E per l’occasione speciale il generoso e ambiziono King of Swing volle con sé il meglio del Jazz dell’epoca, con rappresentanti delle orchestre migliori di tutti i tempi: Ellington (presente attraverso Carney, Williams e soprattutto un Hodges in grandissima forma al sax contralto) e Basie (lui stesso al piano, poi l’intera mitica All American Rhythm Section e Clayton e Lester Young al tenore!). Oltre ovviamente ai suoi grandi solisti, sia della big band (James e Elman alla tromba e Krupa alla batteria, tra gli altri) che dei piccoli combo (Hampton strepitoso).

Insomma, un live leggendario da gustare dalla prima all’ultima nota, pubblicato nel 1950 con la simpatica introduzione ai brani dello stesso direttore d’orchestra (come potrete sentire anche nel brano oggetto di questo post).

Ma veniamo alla Jam Session che ha fatto la storia dello Swing, quella che per circa 16 minuti realizzò nel teatro più famoso di New York la magia di un piccolo club fumoso notturno, portando l’arte dell’improvvisazione ai suoi massimi livelli in un luogo dove mai era arrivata. Sul tema di Honeysuckle Rose del grande Fats Waller, il cui tema è a gran ritmo suonato a inizio e fine della session, partono una serie di assoli che gareggiano per maestria, swing e fantasia. Perché le Jam Session non sono state inventate dal Be Bop negli anni ’40, ma da New Orleans in poi, anche se in forme diverse, hanno attraversato la storia del Jazz. Anche nell’epoca in cui veniva chiamato Swing!

Insomma, la perizia e l’estro di questi artisti si manifesta nella magia dell’improvvisazione e se è impossibile stilare una graduatoria, i gusti personali mi portano a sottolinearvi l’esibizione di alcuni dei 10 che si cimentano in questa impresa (nell’ordine dei solos: Lester Young, Count Basie, Buck Clayton, Johnny Hodges, rhythm section Count Basie + Freddie Green + Walter Page + Gene Krupa, Carney, Goodman, Green, James, Young, Clayton): Lester Young che nei suoi due spazi ci mostra col suo sax sempre un po’ dietro il ritmo perché fu influenza fondamentale per tanto del Jazz successivo, Count Basie che mette a tacere definitivamente tutti i dubbi sulla sua bravura non esibizionistica al piano, Johnny Hodges che lascia senza fiato dall’inizio alla fine, Benny Goodman che mette in chiaro perché il clarinetto è lo strumento per eccellenza del Jazz classico, Freddie Green che prende uno dei pochi assoli di tutta la sua lunghissima e luminosa carriera (!!!), Harry James infine che sorprende quasi per l’inventiva alla tromba, un po’ messa in secondo piano nel resto della sua carriera di successo.

Ecco qui questa perla musicale:

“Honeysuckle Rose Jam Session” – Carnegie Hall 1938

Buon divertimento e buon ascolto a tutti!


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)


Una chicca trovata su Internet: qui la riproduzione originale del programma della serata del 16/01/1938!


Believe it or not: this mught really be the most important Jam Session in all the Jazz history. For sure during the Swing Era, because for the first time the King of Swing was invited to play in the temple of classical music in New York, the Carnegie Hall. The all concert is one of the most famous one and it worth a listening from the beginning ‘til the end. In this record released in 1950 you can also hear the friendly intros of Benny Goodman itself to every song.

And what about this unique Jam Session, played by some of the most important Jazz musicians members of the most important big bands, such as Goodman (James, Krupa), Ellington (Carney, Hodges) and Basie (Green, Page, Young, Basie itself). Because the Jam Session were surely not invented by Be Bop artists, but since New Orleans were the most original and improvisative part of Jazz. And you can hear it at the top, with a lot of solos played by the 10 artists involved in this session: in order Lester Young, Count Basie, Buck Clayton, Johnny Hodges, rhythm section Count Basie + Freddie Green + Walter Page + Gene Krupa, Carney, Goodman, Green, James, Young, Clayton.

I mean, listen to the tenor sax of Lester Young, to the alto of Johnny Hodges in full effect, to the Maestro level of Count Basie and Benny Goodman at their instruments, to the surprising Harry James at the trumpet. And, last but not least: the mighty Freddie Green playing one of his unique guitare solos!!!

It really worth dedicated approx 16 minutes to this musical pearl.

What can I say? Enjoy!


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)

Goodman 2

QUESTO È IL JAZZ! – THIS IS JAZZ! (After Hours, 1958)


[Portrait of Roy Eldridge, Spotlite (Club), New York, N.Y., ca. Nov. 1946] (LOC) Gottlieb, William P., 1917-, photographer.


Questo breve filmato, girato come puntata pilota di una trasmissione televisiva sul Jazz (che poi non fu mai realizzata, purtroppo), contiene tutti gli elementi essenziali della nostra musica (e del nostro ballo, visto che le due cose sono strettamente collegate nel Jazz). In soli 20 minuti abbondanti After Hours (titolo originale di questo video girato nel 1958) condensa tutti gli elementi essenziali: la musica trascinante di un combo composto da eccellenti musicisti, la voce e lo scat di una cantante straordinaria, il ballo di due dei principali ballerini della storia del Lindy Hop e dell’Authentic Jazz, l’atmosfera notturna di un club newyorchese dopo la chiusura al pubblico (quando i musicisti si dedicano alle jam session per il puro piacere di suonare e creare).

E quale meravigliosa squadra troviamo impegnata in una serie mozzafiato di brani tra lo Swing e il Be Bop (siamo nel 1958 e un grande come il tenorsassofonista Coleman Hawk Hawkins si pone curiosamente tra i due mondi musicali, come anche il trombettista Roy Little Jazz Eldridge, principale ispiratore della svolta di Dizzy Gillespie): i già citati straordinari solisti Hawkins ed Eldridge, ma anche altri grandi di questa musica come Cozy Cole alla batteria, Johnny Guarnieri al piano, Mint Hinton al contrabbasso e Barry Galbraith alla chitarra. Con la presenza eccellente e sorprendente della cantante Carol Stevens, che interpreta alla grande alcuni degli standard, inscenando anche una simpatico solo di scat singing insieme a Little Jazz.

L’episodio pilota si svolge significativamente nella 52esima strada di Manhattan piena di Jazz Club, ribattezzata Swing Street. Poteva mancare il ballo e in particolare il Lindy Hop? A ulteriore riprova non solo che lo Swing non è morto dopo la fine dell’epoca delle Big Band (ma è passato attraverso il Be Bop negli anni ’50 mantenendo intatta la sua carica di ritmo), ma anche che il Lindy Hop non è mai del tutto scomparso dalle scene e dai palcoscenici, ecco che troviamo due dei migliori ballerini afroamericani di tutti i tempi, Al Minns e Leon James, che si scatenano in una serie di passi solo e in coppia. Un vero piacere per gli occhi godere la loro interpretazione di un brano scatenato della band, come anche il ballo più “social” accennato dai finti camerieri un paio di canzoni prima. Sì perché ovviamente tutte le atmosfere sono ricostruite in studio, mentre i brani sono stati improvvisati dal vivo dai musicisti per l’occasione.

Canzoni magnifiche come Lover Man, Just you, Just me o Taking a Chance on Love sono interpretate dal gruppo con un incredibile tiro ritmico swing che non si ferma mai e una grande perizia negli assoli (più vicini al contemporaneo Be Bop). L’atmosfera di un vero Jazz Club è ricreata con dovizia di particolari ed è un vero peccato che i produttori decisero dopo questo pilota di non proseguire con le riprese (si era d’altronde in una fase calante di successo per il Jazz, a tutto vantaggio di forme più commerciali e semplici di musica).

Non si può chiudere meglio questo post dedicato ad una vera gemma che con quanto dice la voce fuori campo all’inizio del film: “This is my beat, the jazz beat”!


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)


Quasi dimenticavo: ecco il link alla versione completa e originale! 😉


Sometimes you can find all you need in order to describe a wonderful musical world in a short movie. This is why After Hours (original title) is so important: in only 20 minutes circa you have Jazz music and dance in its best performance. Filmed in 1958 as a pilot episode of a television show (which unfortunaly never saw the light afterwards), it is staged in a Jazz Club in the so called Swing Street (52nd) in Manhattan, NY.

What a show with Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Cozy Cole, Mint Hinton, Johnny Guarnieri and Barry Galbraith performing live great music, between the swingin’ pulse and the Be Bop soloist style. In 1958 artists such as Hawk and Little Jazz were the living bridge between different styles and periods of Jazz. Plus a great surprise, the singer (also scat singer) Carol Stevens, what a voice and savoir-faire on stage (enjoy the scat battle with Roy!).

And, when I wrote that here you can find all that we need, here it comes the dance, the Lindy Hop and Authentic Jazz steps! We have here 2 of the greatest afroamerican dancers of all times: Al Minns and Leon James live and loud! Both dancing solo and couple coreos, it is really a pleasure for our eyes to watch them performing (another proof that Lindy Hop never really disappeared from theatres and shows, even during the hard times when other kind of pop and commercial music was kicking Jazz out of the charts).

Therefore, I fully recommend After Hours as the best intro to Jazz musica and dance. As the voice says in this short movie, never forget that: “This is my beat, the jazz beat”!


Here is the link to this film, an authentic monument of a wonderful musical Era.


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)


[Portrait of Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1947] (LOC) Gottlieb, William P., 1917-, photographer.

Il sogno di Dizzy Gillespie: “Jivin’ in Be Bop” (1947) – Dizzy Gillespie’s dream: “Jivin’ in Be Bop” (1947)



Se non conoscete ancora questo film musicale della seconda metà degli anni ’40, Jivin’ in Be Bop, ve ne consiglio spassionatamente e caldamente la visione (è visibile con licenza Creative Commons su archivi on line o si può comprare in Dvd).

Siamo nella fase di passaggio tra l’Era dello Swing e la rivoluzione Be Bop. Un cambiamento che però nasce proprio in seno alle grandi big band, di cui lo stesso Dizzy Gillespie fece parte (con i direttori Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway e Earl Hines tra gli altri). E Dizzy rappresentò un sogno, quello di traghettare il mondo del Jazz ballabile verso forme musicali di maggiore qualità rispetto alle ultime ripetitive versioni dello Swing, che non si erano distinte per l’inventiva e l’originalità. Il sogno come sappiamo purtroppo fallì, per vari motivi: la crisi seguente la Seconda Guerra Mondiale che decimò le orchestre, la difficoltà della nuova musica (spesso su ritmi indiavolati e complessi), la preferenza per le piccole formazioni, un certo intellettualismo elitario che prevalse nel Be Bop (motivato però anche da un moto d’orgoglio degli afroamericani).

Ma questo film musicale, niente più che una rivista d’avanspettacolo, resta a testimonianza di quello che poteva essere e non fu. Abbiamo infatti la magnifica big band degli anni 1946-1947 di Dizzy Gillespie sul palco (con tra gli altri John Lewis poi del Modern Jazz Quartet al piano e Milt Jackson al vibrafono), accompagnati in alcuni brani dalla grande Helen Humes alla voce (ad esempuo in una ballabilissima versione di Be-Baba-Leba); ma anche sketch comici tra un brano e l’altro e spettacoli di ballo che spesso rubano il palco all’orchestra. A proposito di questi ultimi alcuni critici hanno sostenuto che fossero di pessima qualità, ma a parziale discolpa dei ballerini dobbiamo dire che in effetti il Be Bop, anche nella versione orchestrale di Dizzy, non è di facile interpretazione e probabilmente non erano neanche tutti ballerini professionisti.

Ma godetevi lo spasso di questi due ballerini che interpretano in una maniera originale e acrobatica, quasi da breakdancer ante-litteram, le convulsioni ritmiche della big band:

Bebop Dancers from “Jivin’ in Bebop” Movie | 1947

Oppure questa scena di ballo Lindy Hop, certo meno originale rispetto a quelle dei Whitey’s, ma comunque libera e divertente per come segue la nuova musica in questa versione ideale di social dancing Be Bop:

Unknown Dancers Performing – “Dynamo A” (1947)

E poi in mezzo e sopra tutto lui, Dizzy Gillespie, che scherza, fa battute, balla, suona sul palco. Un personaggio unico, per talento musicale, ma anche positività della persona-personaggio, quasi il lato buono del Be Bop, che non si auto-distrusse con alcool e droghe e brutte storie (pensate che ebbe perfino una sola moglie per tutta la vita!), ma fece prevalere il piacere della musica e della scoperta (a lui di deve ad esempio l’introduzione dei meravigliosi ritmi cubani nel Jazz) fino alla fine dei suoi giorni. Certo, a parte l’episodio della famosa coltellata a Cab Calloway! 😉

Bisognerà scrivere ancora su Dizzy, un grande con coscienza politica e culturale del periodo e della musica. Mi riprometto di farlo appena possibile, intanto credo che leggerò la sua autobiografia per saperne di più.

Vi lascio scoprire il resto di questo divertente film, della durata complessiva di un’ora circa. Lo trovate per intero qui:

“Jivin’ in Be-Bop” – Internet Archive

Un saluto a voi e viva Dizzy!


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)


Well, in case you don’t know this musical movie Jivin’ in Be Bop (1947), my humble opinion is that you should definitely look for it (on public Internet archives or buying the Dvd). Firse of all: there is Dizzy Gillespie on stage, performing as an orchestra director, trumpet player, comedian and sort-of-dancer, with his unique hilarious humour. This man had a dream, in between the Swing Era and the Be Bop revolution: as a member of famous Swing orchestras (Teddy Hill, Earl Hines, Cab Calloway) he would have liked to bring the dance on also in the Be Bop times, altough it was not possible in the end for several reasons (commercial crisis of the big bands after the 2WW, small combos, difficult rhythms of the new Jazz and a bit of intellectual snobism or political standpoints of the new scene).

But this movie testifies what could have been real in the end of the ’40: new life for the good old Swing (and its repetitive and less original last period) and a new dance, with high standards of musical quality. You can find here sketches and funny dance shows (I doubt here there were only professional dancers), together with music from the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and some guests on stage (such as the great singer Helen Humes).

Gillespie was not only a great musician, but also a great man, with a wise political awareness and a clear vision on Jazz (that he then mixed also with cuban rhythms and inspiration for instance).

Enjoy this movie (please find links above) and enjoy the genius of Dizzy Gillespie!


Mazz Jazz (aka Professor Bop)