Jivin’ In Bebop – 1947
A unique film that has plenty of Dizzy Gillespie’s classic big band
While relatively little of the bebop era was filmed, Jivin’ In Bebop was an important exception, essentially a black vaudeville show with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra as the house band.
The emcee, Freddie Carter and Gillespie exchange plenty of period one-liners and puns, the team of pianist Dan Burley and organist Johnny Taylor has two features, Dizzy’s big band backs various dance acts on six boppish numbers, and there are vocals by Helen Humes (“Be-Baba-Leba” and “Crazy About A Man”), Kevin Hagood (“I Waited For You”) and Gillespie (“I Beeped When I Should Have Bopped”).
In addition to being seen during the vocal numbers, the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band is showcased on “Salt Peanuts,” “Oop Bop Sh’Bam,” “One Bass Hit” and the always-futuristic “Things To Come.”
The orchestra includes the trumpeter-leader, altoist James Moody (although unfortunately he does not get any solos), altoist Scoops Cary, pianist John Lewis, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Joe Harris.
This is a remarkable film taken from the height of the bebop era and featuring one of its most significant groups.