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Obese and alcoholic, Fats Waller began playing in church, before moving on to accompany Harlem’s vaudeville acts and silent films stars. After each show, he played with the ragtime and stride pianists in some of Harlem’s first nightclubs. Piano jazz was born. In fact, and this is the central theme of the film, Fats Waller’s music constituted only a part of the “Harlem Renaissance”, a New York literary, artistic and political movement paralleled by the movement of European Africans to claim their black heritage. Like Fats Waller himself, the film is “funny”, riddled with the black american jive which was part and parcel of jazz. Jazz is portrayed here as a music unto itself; an ironic but demanding play between the desire to communicate and to express one’s self.

Gérald Arnaud See his other films
Company : EX NIHILO
Coproduced by : LA SEPT ARTE

Genre : documentary
Duration : 52 min
Year of production : 1996
Available Versions : VF / VO STF

Distributor : Ex Nihilo

International sales : Ex Nihilo

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