Jazz Shorts 1929–1939

Jazz Shorts 1929–1939

10 Episodes

Louis Armstrong swings, Bing Crosby croons, and Billie Holiday sings the blues in these tune-filled shorts, featuring some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time in their electrifying prime. Made as preludes to accompany feature films, these minimusicals helped popularize future superstars—from Cab Calloway to Hoagy Carmichael—on their way to becoming legends. From Bessie Smith belting the ST. LOUIS BLUES to Duke Ellington performing his SYMPHONY IN BLACK to big-band maestro Artie Shaw presenting a CLASS IN SWING, this selection of syncopated sizzlers represents an indispensable record of America’s musical heritage.

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Jazz Shorts 1929–1939
  • St. Louis Blues

    Episode 1

    Directed by Dudley Murphy • 1929 • United States
    Starring Bessie Smith, Jimmy Mordecai, Isabel Washington

    In her only film appearance, legendary blues singer Bessie Smith and the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra tell the story of a woman who is deserted by her boyfriend for a St. Louis floozy. Smith...

  • Sing, Bing, Sing

    Episode 2

    Directed by Babe Stafford • 1933 • United States
    Starring Bing Crosby, Florine McKinney, Irving Bacon

    A honey-voiced Bing Crosby makes a plan over the radio to elope with his sweetheart—but, alas, her father is listening too. This Mack Sennett–produced comedy features Crosby’s rendition of “Betw...

  • I Surrender Dear

    Episode 3

    Directed by Mack Sennett • 1931 • United States
    Starring Bing Crosby, Arthur Stone, Luis Alberni

    A young Bing Crosby croons “I Surrender Dear,” “Out of Nowhere,” and “At Your Command” in this light romantic farce directed by screen-comedy legend Mack Sennett.

  • Hoagy Carmichael

    Episode 4

    Directed by Leslie M. Roush • 1939 • United States
    Starring Hoagy Carmichael, Jack Teagarden

    This song-filled short features a medley of standards by composer Hoagy Carmichael, including “Washboard Blues,” “Old Rockin’ Chair,” and his signature song, “Stardust,” performed by trombonist Jack Teag...

  • Cab Calloway’s Hi-De-Ho

    Episode 5

    Directed by Fred Waller • 1934 • United States
    Starring Cab Calloway, Sidney Easton, Fredi Washington

    The magnetic Cab Calloway plays a ladies’ man who finds time for a dalliance with a train porter’s wife in between lively renditions of favorites like “Zaz-zuh-zaz” and “The Lady with the Fan.”

  • Black and Tan

    Episode 6

    Directed by Dudley Murphy • 1929 • United States
    Starring Duke Ellington, Fredi Washington

    Duke Ellington makes his first film appearance in this musical drama, in which he plays a struggling bandleader trying to save his piano from bill collectors alongside dancer Fredi Washington and trumpet p...

  • Artie Shaw’s Class in Swing

    Episode 7

    Directed by Leslie M. Roush • 1939 • United States
    Starring Artie Shaw, Helen Forrest

    One of the most popular jazz bands of the 1930s teaches you the ABCs of swing with performances of Artie Shaw’s theme song, “Nightmare,” and “I Have Eyes,” sung by Helen Forrest.

  • Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life

    Episode 8

    Directed by Fred Waller • 1935 • United States
    Starring Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday

    A rising nineteen-year-old singer by the name of Billie Holiday made her screen debut in this musical landmark, which features Duke Ellington and his orchestra performing his symphonic jazz piece “A Rhapsody o...

  • A Rhapsody in Black and Blue

    Episode 9

    Directed by Aubrey Scotto • 1932 • United States
    Starring Louis Armstrong

    A leopard-print-clad Louis Armstrong appears in a dream sequence singing “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You” and “Shine” in this jazz fantasy.

  • A Bundle of Blues

    Episode 10

    Directed by Fred Waller • 1933 • United States
    Starring Duke Ellington, Ivie Anderson

    Duke Ellington presents vocalist Ivie Anderson delivering a plaintive rendition of “Stormy Weather.” Plus: two instrumentals from his orchestra, accompanied by a showstopping routine from Cotton Club dancers Be...