You are about to see a video clip of an important jazz film that hasn't been viewed by the general public in about 50 years. It's at the bottom of this post. Most people aren't even aware that the film exists, and the clip was put up yesterday on YouTube by Raymond De Felitta [pictured], director of Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris, City Island and other superb films.
The video clip is one of six parts from Music of the South, a rare documentary that Raymond's father, Frank De Felitta, filmed in 1956 in backwoods Alabama for CBS. It's narrated by CBS newsman Charles Collingwood.
CBS commissioned the film for its Odyssey series, which aired on Sunday afternoons starting in the '50s and continued into the '60s. Back in '56, Raymond's father was brought to the sharecropper's remote home by Frederic Ramsey Jr., co-author of jazz books such as Jazzmen (1939). Ramsey also made field recordings of blues singers and country musicians for Folkways records in the 40's and 50's.
The film print is a bit dark because it has been around for some time. We're fortunate to even have this film, since Frank De Felitta grabbed it and others he made just as CBS was tossing out large amounts of archival material many years ago. Mr. DeFelitta went on to be a director, novelist and screenwriter. [Pictured, from left: Dick Cavett with Raymond De Felitta]
Raymond will be posting additional parts of this film (as well as others his father made) at his blog, Movies 'til Dawn.