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Rhythm & Blues Revue (1955)

Cast: Lionel Hampton, Faye Adams, Bill Bailey, more...
Director: Joseph Kohn, Leonard Reed
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: A2ZCDs
Genre: Music, Music Videos/Performance
Running Time: 71 min.

The film takes the form of a full-fledged rhythm and blues/jazz stage show - complete with an accomplished MC (Willie Bryant) who gets the ball rolling with some good, old fashioned slapstick comedy featuring a mind-reading librarian. However, this is a music show, and we soon get into the thick of some serious sounds. Lionel Hampton and his band are featured first - and with good reason. Lionel has aptly been called a national treasure for his contribution to jazz music. His fans will recall his tremendously successful albums Fantastique, C Minor Blues, Tenderly and Running Home. He is at his very best in this historic concert. The music has pure soul and features a full complement of accomplished instruments. The man who played with the likes of Chick Corea, Duke Ellington and Wallace Davenport then yields the stage to the fabulously gifted Faye Adams, who had set the music world ablaze in that vibrant era of Rhythm and Blues. She renders one of her most beloved numbers - Everyday - with the trademark deep-throated waver in her voice and receives an enthusiastic round of applause. Next on is the legendary tap dancer Bill Bailey, who presents some intensely dexterous moves before one of the main attractions of the evening comes onstage - Herb Jeffries, dapper and suave as always as he croons My Heart to a highly appreciative audience under a mocked-up starlit Broadway sky. After yet another comical interlude, Amos Milburn takes over with a fantastic rendition of Bad, Bad Whiskey to the accompaniment of scintillating piano and a steady R&B backbeat. The star parade continues without letup - and the audience laps it up. Willie Bryant and his comic compadres take over at well-calculated intervals with side-splitting sitcom routines, but music is the primary focus throughout. Sarah Vaughn takes center stage, and Lionel Hampton makes a reappearance too. Understandably, the celebrated Nat 'King' Cole - one of the biggest jazz and pop artists from the '30 to the '60s - is the star attraction, but there is no upstaging in this remarkable musical tour de force. The almost exclusively African American cast does what they do best - they play outstanding jazz and R&B, crack jokes and obviously have as good a time as the audience.

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