The Girls in the Band (2013)
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Critic Reviews for The Girls in the Band
The documentary is rescued only by a final sequence in which Chaikin restages the famous 1958 group photo A Great Day in Harlem, this time with mostly women.
The major strength of "The Girls in the Band" is its abundant, crisp footage of women playing at the highest level, from pianist Lil Armstrong (Louis' wife) to contemporary reed player Anat Cohen.
The movie meanders a bit in the beginning, though the information comes across. Then it gets into a chronological groove after about 30 minutes and finds its proper form.
"The Girls in the Band" is a story of perseverance and passion - and is recommended viewing for basically every music fan.
Director Judy Chaikin, who co-wrote the film with its deft editor, Edward Osei-Gyimah, infuses this fine portrait with grace, nostalgia and a well-calibrated dose of social commentary.
"The Girls in the Band" is everything a worthwhile documentary should be, and then some: engaging, informative, thorough and brimming with delightful characters.
Audience Reviews for The Girls in the Band
I saw this at the Cleveland International Film Fest 2012 and had to buy the DVD from Judy Chaikin who was there to answer questions after the screening. Informative and fun doc filled with lots of big band/jazz music. Chaikin begins the movie with a famous group portrait of all the big name jazz musicians living in the '50s. Only three women are included and two are identified. This music doc uncovers the fact that there were many more women who were jazz musicians, but so many have been forgotten. It was okay for women to be vocalists or pianists, but women faced many obstacles if they wanted a career playing brass, sax, drums, or other instruments. This doc looks at sexism and racism. It examines nearly a whole century in the history of female jazz musicians with graphics that suggest an old photo album. In the 20s through the 40s The International Sweethearts of Rhythm are given special focus. In the post-WWII years, things reverted to rampant sexism. A few women who achieved some success as jazz soloists and arrangers are highlighted. Then following the feminist movement, beginning in the mid-70s, the Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival and a new generation of women jazz musicians are celebrated. In the end, the photo from Harlem '58 is recreated in front of the same brownstone with a few survivors and dozens of girls from jazz bands. This movie has whetted my interest in jazz!
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