Film examins women of jazz

Can you name five key players from the 1930s jazz scene?

World Community presents a special single screening of The Girls in the Band on Jan. 14 at the North Island College theatre.

Admission is by donation. Show time is 7 p.m.

Can you name five key players from the 1930s jazz scene? If you are a big band fan, you might come up with Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, or Count Basie.

If you love solo horns, you might conjure Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker. Chances are slim that you will think of saxophonists Roz Cron or Vi Redd, trombonist Melba Liston, or trumpeter Clora Bryant.

The Girls in the Band is a beautiful documentary film that brings to light a forgotten chapter of musical history. In the thirties and forties, hundreds of women musicians toured the country in glamorous All-Girl Bands, while others played side by side with their male counterparts.

The film tells their untold stories and also provides ample evidence of their incredible talent.

Filmmaker Judy Chaikin skilfully weaves together archival footage and present-day interviews with the now-elderly players.

The women offer comic anecdotes, tearful memories, and wry commentary on their efforts to be taken seriously. They were (and are) passionate about the music and tenacious in the face of the sexism, racism, and limited opportunities of the day.

Chaikin’s film also defines the legacy of these ground-breaking women through discussions with contemporary musicians.

Eperanza Spalding, Ingrid Jensen, Maria Schneider and Patrice Rushen are living proof that women find success in the jazz world of today, and they are eloquent in acknowledging their debt to the ground-breakers.

This film is everything a documentary should be: entertaining, informative, and inspiring. I am especially moved by the courage and commitment of these women who were told they couldn’t play but went ahead and did it anyway!

Check out the trailer on the film’s website thegirlsintheband.com.

Please note that this film will not be available in the World Community Film Festival Jan. 31 and Feb 1. For those film descriptions and links to trailers, see www.worldcommunity.ca.

The Girls in the Band plays in the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College in Courtenay on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.

Dale Graham is a Comox Valley jazz singer, usually with Indigo Jazz.

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