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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I have seen so many films about the Harlem Renaissance, I was beginning to think that there was no film that both captured and explained the history of the period and also made learning fun for students. As a teacher, I use this DVD with my 12 and 13 year old students. The full versions of songs on the bonus part of the DVD shows the power that visual and audio images can have and had way before MTV. For the price and quality, this is a must have for educators, and a joy for historians and music lovers in general.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
It is certainly hard to find films in jazz from this time period, so this collection is a very valuable one. The quality of the recordings are incredible considering their age, and the representations of the music/musicians sometimes surprising, even for those who study jazz culture.

Although the commentary may not give you much information beyond an introductory level, being able to see jazz performance is something which simply reading about the period can't compare to. One thing to mention--though this DVD is entitled Harlem Renaissance, it seems like several of these films were produced after renaissance was considered to be over.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I bought this DVD for a course I teach on African-American Literature. This is a great DVD if you are interested in showing/discussing the music or performances of the period. However, the "documentary" components of this film are sorely lacking; the commentary provides only the most basic information about the Harlem Renaissance, and there is only about five minutes of commentary throughout the whole documentary. As such, this is mainly just a collection of performance clips, so you will need to do a lot more backgrounding for your students if you wish to explore this aspect of the Harlem Renaissance in depth. Also, don't be fooled by the running time -- the actual "documentary" portion of the film is only about 45 minutes long, and there is an extra 30 minutes of "bonus features" with an additional 11 performances.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The title of this DVD is very misleading, as none of the footage here is from the Harlem Renaissance. The Renaissance ran from 1919 to about 1932, which was still the "silent era" in film. The film and TV clips included on this DVD are all from after the Renaissance, from the 1930s to the 1950s. Of course this is hard to tell, since none of the clips appears with a source or date. While of interest, the musical numbers here focus on big bands that played for mostly white audiences. Absent are the black blues women of the period 1915-1930 (Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, etc.) who were essential voices for African American expression in the period, especially for women. People unfamiliar with the period will be led astray by this DVD. Instead, get "Against the Odds: the Artists of the Harlem Renaissance," or sample the early episodes of Ken Burns's series on Jazz. There was also a great series called "I'll Make Me a World," which covers the rise of African American culture in fine detail, but it doesn't appear to be easily available.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
Format: DVD
This DVD has a great collection of many old film clips interspersed with limited but informative commentary. I really enjoyed listening and watching the jazz musicians play/sing and the dancers dance. There are two dozen artists/groups that are featured here. I have never seen this video footage elsewhere, so it was really special to see what the music LOOKed like.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2005
Format: DVD
While most books and documentaries on the Harlem Renaissance focus on the writers and the painters of the era, this work focuses on the musicians. Most of the musical coverage is of the grainy, black-and-white motion picture productions of the time. This is accurate but may not appeal to modern viewers. Some of the vibrancy that comes through in the materials art just isn't here. Further, the transition from performances to narrative and commentary and back does not flow well. Still, this would be a great work for students taking jazz courses or for fans of classic jazz. Unlike many of the Renaissance's writers and artists, the musicians covered here survived for decades. It's hard for me to even pigeonhole them as Renaissance figures.
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on September 7, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Sincerely talented people! Some short views of the talented people that good music was built upon! If only some of today's "talented people" had as much talent as that in the little finger of these happy, talented, successful musicians. Much is owed to these early geniuses. Listen up!!
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Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Very little to enjoy. I was expecting more artists and highlights but there really wasn't much to see and really very little about the era when Harlem was the hub of the creative world.
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on December 31, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I think I enjoyed it more than my students but it was nice for them to see how music and dancing was in that era.
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