There is one line at the beginning of this concert that sums up the music industry for early jazz and boogie woogie musicians. It is said by leader Sammy Price when he introduces a song: “Usually you don’t get any credit for these things until you’ve passed on to the great beyond.” Indeed, many of the tracks played by Price and his All Stars came from the dim history of 19th Century American music, whereby jazz songs were passed down as an oral tradition and their original composers’ names got lost in the dust.
What’s more, black musicians rarely got credit for their art. Even once the decades-long popularity of minstrel shows subsided, early 20th-Century jazz recorders where mostly white musicians and artists were categorized by skin color. Here, in 1958, we should note that Price still called his band the “Negro All Stars,” which was entirely reflective of their social status.
As a result, the All Stars we see in this concert are not nearly as well-known as they should be today. Price is smooth and eminent as leader, Taffy Douglas is a real find for new listeners as a singer with all the grace and elegance of yesteryear romance, Eddie Barefield deploys pure sweetness on the sax and clarinet, and a lengthy drum solo by J.C. Heard is unfiltered mastery. As a document, this film should be treasured.