By Daneet Steffens
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:40 AM EDT
Advertisement

The Last of the Blue Devils: The Kansas City Jazz Story

A
type
  • Movie
genre

The best part of this nifty film, which captures the 1974 reunion that brought such jazz and blues luminaries as Count Basie and Big Joe Turner back to their Kansas City stomping grounds, is watching these guys, faces wreathed in smiles and wrinkles, talk about each other with respect and affection. Pianist Jay McShann reminisces about how a young Charlie ”Bird” Parker got his nickname, and Basie, who enters the old musicians’ union hall as regally as a king, riffs on Lester Young: ”[He] was a real strangely nice guy, and could play like — wow!”

Throughout ”The Last of the Blue Devils” — ”a presentation” of longtime jazz aficionado Clint Eastwood — director Bruce Ricker’s split-screen technique allows plenty of opportunity to watch Turner, Jesse Price, Charles McPherson, and Co. enjoy one another’s performances while as Ricker points out, ”they’re creating poetry on the spot.” His monotone audio commentary — a startling contrast to the ultra-laid-back warmth of the documentary — is filled with interesting tidbits nonetheless, so all this DVD is short on is musical outtakes. Still, not even that can dampen what Basie appreciates as ”a beautiful gathering — gee whiz.”

The Last of the Blue Devils: The Kansas City Jazz Story

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • UNRATED
director
  • Bruce Ricker

Comments