The Girls in the Band: One Joyful Noise!
Much has been said and screened about women’s rights, the glass ceiling, the difference between the sexes and, even now, what should women do with their lives. One thing they can and should do is play jazz, with all its power, joy and complexity. If you ever had any doubts, The Girls in the Band will sweep them away. Not only in the extraordinary interviews with some of the big names, but with many that you never heard of. And, with all of them, it’s not just their words but their music.
There are trombone players, saxophonists, trumpetistes, drummers, guitarists, cabaret stars, whole bands and orchestras in one long unbroken swinging line from the 1920s all the way to Esperanza Spalding, the 2011 Best New Artist Grammy-winner. And Maria Schneider who, when asked by a reporter “What’s
it like to be a woman arranger?” replies“What’s it like to be a male journalist?”
Along the way, they conjure up a lost world of concert halls and clubs like The Cookery, Hickory House, and the Rainbow Room. The stories they tell about Jim Crow (it was always worse for them than for the male bands), of civil rights, of women’s rights, even of support from men like Woody Herman, Herbie Hancock and (in the very short-term, Tommy Dorsey), are alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.
Let’s put it this way: if you love jazz, you will learn things you never knew, one gorgeous riff at a time, and you will love The Girls in the Band. And if you think nothing compares to rock and roll, sink into the largely acoustic sound track of this succulent movie and change your mind.
Note: Two high notes to look out for: the final sequence, and one of the (big surprise!)producing credits. And just try this: site/video. This just in: there will be a two-week run at the Quad Cinema in New York beginning May 24, and you can also see The Girls in the Band at the Laemmle Noho 7 in L.A. from June 7–13.)