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DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | 88 MIN | unknown

THE LAST OF THE FIRST

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This thoroughly engaging movie, here receiving its World Premiere screening, tells the remarkable and deeply moving story of the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band during its sunset years for, although they were formed more than 30 years ago, touring and playing regularly ever since, its unique personnel -- pioneers from the early days of jazz -- has inevitably succumbed to the passage of time. But what wonderful, dedicated musicians they are, still playing like angels: 87-year-old Al Casey, who had worked closely with Fats Waller throughout the 1930s; guitarist Lawrence Lucie, 95 years young, from the bands of Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter and Duke Ellington; saxophonist Bubba Brooks, 79, who was with Bill Doggett; Edwin Swanston, 80, pianist with Louis Armstrong's Orchestra; 91-year-old drummer Johnny Blowers, ex-Bunny Berigan, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra; Ivan Rolle, 85, bassist with Jonah Jones; and 88-year-old Laurel Watson, one-time vocalist with Duke Ellington and Count Basie. During the long period of shooting, filmmaker Anja Baron can have had little idea of how her film would turn out, so it is to her eternal credit that she has managed so successfully to retain control of her original vision. Her cameras lovingly record the musicians through their tours and concerts, capturing their joy in performing together. Her deep respect and admiration for this incorrigible band of troupers is evident in every frame. A true celebration of the jazz spirit.
Film Information
Year: 2004
Length: 88 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Premiere: World
Cast & Credits
About the Director(s)
Anja Baron was born in Germany in 1965. After studies in film, philosophy, and literature at the Free University of Berlin, she received a scholarship to study in the U.S. It was a combination of her Ph.D. studies at NYU, her work as a cultural correspondent reporting on the arts in New York for European publications, and her work as a photographer that eventually brought her to work in film and television. Baron became a director/producer for both European and U.S. television and has produced and/or directed a wide range of programs for various outlets, including A&E, TLC, The Travel Channel, APTV and ZDF, TF1, and Arte. It was her lifelong love for jazz that led her to make this film, her first independently-made feature documentary. Baron currently lives in New York with her husband Ken and their daughter, Oona Day. She is honored to be part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

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