Jun 09, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Remember Bob Hope?
Sure, you do!
Martha Raye, W.C. Fields, Dorothy Lamour? Of course.
But what about Shep Fields and Ben Blue? No, I didn’t think so.
Well those two journeyman jazzmen appear alongside the aforementioned big names in “The Big Broadcast,” a 1938 musical-comedy from Paramount being screened by the Syracuse Cinephile Society at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 13, at the Spaghetti Warehouse.
The film focuses on an ocean race between two luxury liners. One ship is broadcasting the event on the radio and is loaded with an all-star passenger list headed by W.C. Fields with vocalist Martha Raye as his daughter. “The Big Broadcast” is Bob Hope’s feature film debut and the movie in which he and Shirley Ross introduce the Oscar-winning tune (and Hope’s theme song) “Thanks for the Memory,” by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.
And what about those two ne’er-do-wells, drummer/comedian Ben Blue and bandleader Shep Fields?
Ben Blue was a Canadian-born drummer who achieved greater success with punch lines than percussion. He played drums for Jack White and His Montrealers and appeared long with Paul Whiteman in the 1929 film King of Jazz before joining the Earl Carroll Vanities.
Brooklyn-born Shep Fields started out as a clarinetist but found fame during the big band era by blowing bubbles into a water glass as the bandleader of Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen, The Big Broadcast also stars Dorothy Lamour, Leif Erickson, Lynne Overman, Grace Bradley, Tito Guizar and Kirsten Flagstad.
Spaghetti Warehouse is located at 689 N. Clinton St., near Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. Admission to each Cinephile screening costs $3, or $2.50 for Cinephile members. For dinner reservations, call 475-1807.
Scott-Heron dead at 62
Spoken-word pioneer Gil Scott-Heron, who co-headlined last year’s Syracuse Jazz Fest, died May 27 in New York City after falling ill upon returning from a European tour, according to The New York Times. Scott-Heron, who was 62, had long suffered from severe drug addiction and other health problems. He was best known for writing and performing a scathing piece of social satire called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” recorded in 1970.
Syracuse Jazz Fest Artistic Director Frank Malfitano mourned Scott-Heron’s passing.
“We’ve lost a true original,” Malfitano said. “We’ve lost an irreplaceable genius and a singular voice in the ongoing movement for social justice. He was a political and poetic artist who ranks alongside Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Pete Seeger, Richie Havens and Bob Dylan.”
The Syracuse impresario said Scott-Heron’s death underscores how important it is that Jazz Fest presents such artists.
“Last June, prior to Boz Scagg’s closing performance on Saturday, more than 25,000 people got to witness, see and hear the genius of Gil Scott-Heron on the Jazz Fest’s main stage,” Malfitano recalled. “Most of the festival’s younger audience members, who had never had an opportunity to see Gil in his early-80s heyday, got to see this genius here while he was still vital, musically, politically and artistically. For everyone at the festival, it was and will forever remain a singular honor, one of the proudest moments in the festival’s three-decade history of presenting artists who matter.”
Anticipating Jazz Fest
Headliners for the 29th annual M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest on June 24 and 25 at Onondaga Community College include Felix Cavaliere & The New Rascals, the Average White Band and the Robert Cray Band on Friday and the Brothers of Funk with Al Chez and Return to Forever IV with Chick Corea and Jean-Luc Ponty on Saturday.
The Price Chopper Fireworks display fired up by Telstar Display Fireworks climaxes Jazz Fest at 11 p.m. June 25. Over the festival’s two days, convenient parking on the OCC campus is available for $5 per vehicle; syracusejazzfest.com.
Mags & Murphy in Rochester
Meanwhile, the nine-day Rochester International Jazz Festival will present bop vocalist Mark Murphy, a Fulton native, on its opening night, June 10, in addition to singer Natalie Cole, former Tonight Show guitarist-bandleader Kevin Eubanks and piano great Cedar Walton.
Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, a Syracuse native now active on the NYC scene, plays there June 13, and the CNY Jazz Orchestra takes the Jazz Street Stage the next night. Teenage alto sax sensation Grace Kelly leads a quintet at the festival June 15, and pianist Kenny Barron, who came to prominence backing Stan Getz, fronts a trio June 17; rochesterjazz.com.
Big difference between the Flower City and Salt City festivals:
All the performances at the Syracuse Jazz Fest are free!