Got home from an evening meeting last night to find my girl watching the 1943 classic black musical “Stormy Weather,” starring Lena Horne and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Once I started watching, I was hooked.
The movie was fascinating on many levels, not least as an historic artifact of racial attitudes at the time, documenting how black performers were both confined by stereotypes and caricatures while also finding ways to defy them.
But what really blew me away was the quantity and quality of musical and dance talent showcased in the movie, from Cab Calloway (doing an early moonwalk) to the Nicholas Brothers dance duo to a hilarious homage to the black vaudeville comedy duo Miller & Lyles, which ranks up there with anything done by Abbott & Costello.
I mean, when you’ve got all-time jazz greats such as Illinois Jacquet and Coleman Hawkins as uncredited background players, you’re talking talent.
Anyway, enough socio-historic babble. It’s Friday, and almost quitting time. Here’s a clip featuring one of my favorites, Fats Waller, with the great blues singer Ada Brown. (Tragically, Fats died shortly after the movie was released at the age of 39.)
– Jay Bookman