Vince Giordano leads the Nighthawks band, and his music has been featured in Woody Allen’s movies and the series “Boardwalk Empire.” Charlie Gross/First Run Features
As you absorb the buoyant ’20s and ’30s jazz bubbling through the documentary “Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past,” you may well wonder if this is the happiest American music ever created. It’s a peppy, carefree sound that conveys a frantic energy but is rendered with a light touch.
Born and based in Brooklyn, Mr. Giordano, 64, has been leading the Nighthawks, his 11-piece band specializing in the pre-swing era, for nearly four decades. He plays several instruments, including tuba, string bass and bass saxophone, and sings in a voice that evokes a less rambunctious Fats Waller. His popularity playing hotels has spawned a subculture of young fans who flock to his performances in period dress.
You probably know the music of this passionate preservationist, which has been featured in Woody Allen’s movies and the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” His devotion to stylistic authenticity infuses his band’s performances to the degree that, to quote a ’70s pop song title, “everything old is new again.” Played with such vigor and attention to detail, it sounds utterly fresh.
Much of the space in Mr. Giordano’s Brooklyn apartment is devoted to his ever-growing, meticulously annotated collection of 60,000 big-band arrangements. They are culled from his extensive search for original manuscripts and radio transcriptions of music that the film calls hot jazz. What the singer, pianist and cabaret performer Michael Feinstein is to vintage popular songs, Mr. Giordano is to hot jazz.
“There’s a Future in the Past” is a ground-level exploration of this historian at work, leading the Nighthawks or one of their satellite ensembles and traveling the country to examine and rescue old arrangements that have turned up in radio station archives and musicians’ basements. What others would dismiss as trash is the equivalent of discovering gold to Mr. Giordano.
A preview of the film.
By FIRST RUN FEATURES on January 12, 2017. Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive. Watch in Times Video »
This movie, directed and produced by Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards, digs deeply enough into Mr. Giordano’s world to convey the drudgery and headaches of being a
bandleader: juggling personnel, scheduling, dealing with a musicians’ union and lugging around instruments. But for all the players’ expertise and devotion, their profession won’t make them rich and famous.
They do it for love. The most memorable performances are carried by a mysterious lilt that makes them the next best thing to dancing on air.
Vince Giordano: There's a Future in the Past
NYT Critics’ Pick
Directors Dave Davidson, Amber Edwards
Writers Dave Davidson, Amber Edwards
Stars Sam Bardfeld, Dan Block, Colin Brigstocke, Adrian Cunningham, Andy Farber
Genres Documentary, Biography, History, Music
Movie data powered by IMDb.com
Last updated: Jan 12, 2017