Swingin’ Kansas City

The Last of the Blue Devils (Documentary)

Rediscovering “The Kansas City Scene”

In an excerpt from the 1979 jazz film “The Last of the Blue Devils” various figures talk about music being one of the a major reasons for the cities’ prosperity during the great depression.

Blues shouter Big Joe Turner begins, reminiscing about his boyhood when he ran barefoot through the streets and alleys growing up in Kansas Cities’ red-light district.

The discussion quickly shifts to the illustrious Thomas Pendergast, a political boss and hero of the common man who served from 1925 to 1939. After making his fortune electing politicians he kept workers employed and the jazz joints open.

Local Kansas City club owner Milton Morris describes just how free and easy the city once was drawing musicians from all over the country and the regional development of a new more relaxed style of jazz.

As a demonstration of the cool relaxed Kanas City sound of which Morris speaks, violinist Claude Williams is featured playing an expressive solo.