Summer of Music: Jazz On Film

The Last of The Blue Devils

Dir. Bruce Ricker (1979) 80 min.

The Last of the Blue Devils chronicles the 1979 reunion of many of these legendary players, combining interviews, vintage film footage, photos, and some inimitably swinging performances by Basie, Turner, pianist Jay McShann, and many others to create an intimate, good-natured portrait of what one old-timer calls the "cool, relaxed sound" of the city. The camaraderie among these men, all of whom are colorful raconteurs, is palpable. But it's the music, surely, that's the main attraction; performances include some familiar tunes, like Turner's "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and a Basie big band version of "Night Train" (featuring tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest, the tune's composer) that's as greasy as the local barbecue. The Last of the Blue Devils is an absolute delight not to be missed!"The Last of the Blue Devils" contains vintage footage of important Kansas City musicians as Big Joe Turner, Lester Young, Jay McShann, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker and the Count Basie Orchestra with Freddie Green, to name a few. Beyond the exceptionally filmed musical segments, the documentary's highlight remains the personal interactions between all of the wonderful Kansas City legends reunited in 1979 for a historic jam session.