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Woody Herman: Blue Flame: Portrait of a Jazz Legend


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Product Details

  • Actors: Woody Herman, Joe Lovano, Phil Wilson, Terry Gibbs, Dr. Herb Wong
  • Directors: Graham Carter
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: JAZZED MEDIA
  • DVD Release Date: November 13, 2012
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009KY9DAK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,533 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In recognition of the Centennial celebration of Woody Herman s birthday in 2013, this feature-length
documentary provides an in-depth look at the legend s 50-year career as a big band jazz leader.



Feature-length documentary about big band jazz leader Woody
Herman, who led his group for more than 50 years from 1936
until his death in 1987.



Directed by award-winning filmmaker Graham Carter, this DVD
includes interviews with 35 musicians and jazz historians, including
Woody himself, as well as Phil Wilson, Joe Lovano, Terry Gibbs,
Jeff Hamilton, Sonny Igoe, Frank Tiberi, Dr. Herb Wong, and
Dan Morgenstern.



Features several rare performances, including broadcasts from
The Ed Sullivan Show and Iowa Public Television.



Includes almost 400 photographs and images of Woody and his
various bands over a 50-year career.



Herman s story parallels the changes in jazz, from the 1930s Swing
Era to bebop and cool jazz in the 1940s and 1950s, and the emergence
of jazz/rock fusion in the 1960s and 1970s.



Many jazz stars got their start in Herman s band, including Pete &
Conte Candoli, Flip Phillips, Neal Hefti, Terry Gibbs, Stan Getz,
Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Sal Nistico, Bill Chase, Frank Tiberi, Alan
Broadbent, Joe Lovano, and Jeff Hamilton.



The Herds featured some of the finest jazz composers of the last
seven decades, such as Ralph Burns, Neal Hefti, Shorty Rogers,
Gene Roland, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Holman, Nat Pierce, and
Alan Broadbent.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
88%
4 star
6%
3 star
6%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 16 customer reviews
A must have for the jazz/big band fan!
Anthony D. Jordan
A must for your collection of Big Band Jazz CD's Great players in this band.
Phillip Burton Jr.
Woody and his bands were a always a pleasure.
Michael Palermo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas F. Mondello on October 18, 2012
"Blue Flame" is a straight-ahead, very swinging tribute to one of the greatest, most influential - and certainly most durable - bandleaders in the history of jazz - "The Chopper," Woody Herman. The documentary, told through interviews with many Herman Herd alumni, as well as taped performance segments, is an absolute joy to savor.

Director/Producer/Narrator Graham Carter has shrewdly mixed player and critic/historian anecdotes, marvelously appropriate historical performance footage and rare still photography to frame Herman as a Road Fatherly "player's leader," innovator and
consummate entertainer whose life and living (in both senses of the word) centered
on his music.

The white-hot energy that flowed from Herman's various bands is all here - it's evident in the fabulous music and in the commentary from Herman's admiring players. Perhaps no other bandleader in the Pantheon - Ellington, Basie, Kenton - as great as they were, had the enormous number of players star as they did in the Herman Herds and ultimately move on to stellar careers on their own. That's probably testimony to Herman's genius in allowing players significant creative freedom and encouragement. The continuous flow of new, young blood, as well as Herman's fierce dedication to the music - it was always about being true to the music - kept things swinging hard as decades passed.

While there have been numerous written bios of Herman - Robert C. Kreibel's exhaustive, almost academic study (with the same title as this effort) and Gene Lees' anecdotally informative "Leader of the Band" - the focus here is on the music, the musicians (including the great Herman arrangers such as Ralph Burns, Nat Pierce, Alan Broadbent, et al) as well as spotlighting the leader himself.
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This is the second of the in-depth music biographies that I've watched by Graham Carter (the other was "Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm") and I have to give Carter credit for being a "one-man band" (NO pun intended, really). He not only conducted all the interviews - and with nearly 1,000 musicians who played in one of Woody Herman's bands over 50-plus years, Carter seems to have found nearly 35 or more - and wrote the script, but he narrates it too!. And you get a lot of entertainment value on this DVD as well. With a running time of nearly two hours and a lot of complete performances (both from European TV and from a PBS station in Iowa) that are , thoughtfully, "indexed", so that you can go directly to specific performances on repeat viewings, it's a must have for big band or Herman fans. Note that it is authorized by both the Herman Estate and the Woody Herman Appreciation Society.

But I need to warn you that this is not a "slick" production. While the post-1960 performances - usually from videotape - have good video, the clips (most of the early performances - taken from feature films - are just excerpts) from the 1930s-1950s show a lot of wear and the images are fuzzy. There are certainly better copies out there but the licensing fees may have made using these cost-prohibitive. If you are used to seeing early jazz documentaries with clean prints, I'm afraid you won't find those here. I issue the warning but am still giving the DVD five stars because no one else has attempted to pay such a loving tribute to the "Head of the Herd" before and, even though Herman's career started in 1936, we are up to the 1940s in the story - and clips - in the first 11 minutes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Larson on December 14, 2012
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One of the best biographical documentaries of a musician I have ever seen. There were photos and video clips of his entire life from being a child wonder in vaudeville to leading his big band until his death over the course of 70 years. The stories by band members from all the different eras were interesting and informative. This is a must have DVD for anyone who has a library of jazz musicians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anthony J. Agostinelli on December 30, 2012
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This is one of the documentaries that wastes no time and fuss and gets to the heart of who Woody Herman was...can you imagine, playing complete versions of some his recordings in the film -- I'm impressed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony D. Jordan on December 26, 2013
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I usually write long reviews when I like something, but will keep this one short and simple. This is by far, the absolute best DVD about the life and music of Woody Herman you will find. A must have for the jazz/big band fan! Chock full of music and ALOT of interviews with past Herman alumni. You will want to watch it over and over again...i have, Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By frank on July 2, 2013
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The above DVD was excellent it gave the best coverage of Woody Herman I have yet seen and also included some wonderful features of his various bands on film. This DVD is a credit to one of the greatest band leaders to come out of jazz and is for that highly recommended. Frank.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Usher on November 30, 2012
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I had the great privilege of attending a viewing of this video at the "Groovin' Hard" Jazz Festival in Los Angeles this past October. It was hosted by Graham Carter himself. Numerous Herman alumni were also in attendance. What a blast. I purchased a copy of this DVD at the festival, then left it in my rental car at the airport!! Anyway, it is everything the previous reviewers say it is -- a "must have" for any Herman fan. I'm ordering another copy right now!!
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Woody Herman: Blue Flame: Portrait of a Jazz Legend
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