Rock Hall celebrates Black History Month with jazz, film

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will celebrate national Black History Month with a new exhibit Jammin', Jazzin' & Jivin': Jazz on Film and a month-long free film series inspired by the exhibition.

Jammin', Jazzin' & Jivin' is open now and the film series will kick-off Feb. 12. During the month, Sean Jones, Artistic Director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, will join in a conversation about rock and roll's roots in jazz with the Rock Hall's Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey and John Kisch, founder and director of the Separate Cinema Archive and organizer of the Jammin', Jazzin' and Jivin' exhibit.

The exhibit, Jammin', Jazzin' & Jivin': Jazz on Film features 27 posters spanning nearly 70 years of jazz-related cinema. These promotional posters are works of art in themselves. Jammin', Jazzin' & Jivin': Jazz on Film helps illustrate the connection between jazz and its close relatives -- rhythm and blues, boogie-woogie -- and how these genres found audiences in the African American community and soon after - worldwide. Numerous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Bessie Smith and Quincy Jones are featured.

From the advent of talking pictures, jazz music was rich source of material for the film industry. In films made by major studios and independents, in full-length features and one-reel shorts, jazz was often presented to exclusively black audiences. These films are, in some cases, the only moving images we have of some of these artists. In the era of modern Hollywood, jazz is often the back story in a biographic film of a legendary figure, like Charlie Parker or Billie Holiday.

The film series events are free with a reservation. Seating is limited.

Film series

Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. -- CABIN IN THE SKY This Vincente Minnelli film (his first for MGM), was an exceptional all-black, all-star, musical fantasy and morality tale about the eternal struggle of a man caught in a tug of war between heaven and hell. The action transpires in aWizard of Oz style dream of Little Joe Jackson (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) who lies unconscious from a wound inflicted by a gambler. Good and evil take on human form and compete for the favor of Little Joe, who is torn between the loyalty of his good Christian wife, Petunia (Ethel Waters), and the temptations of the adulterous Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). Added to the cast is a treasure trove of talent including Mantan Morland, Butterfly McQueen and Ruby Dandridge, with featured musical numbers by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Horne made an auspicious film debut as Georgia Brown.

Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. -- LISTEN UP-THE LIVES OF QUINCY JONES Quincy Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 as the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has had one of the longest, most successful careers in popular music. He is a record producer, conductor, arranger, film composer, television producer and trumpeter. He has worked with such artists as Michael Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, to name just a few. He has been nominated for a record 79 Grammys - and won 27 - and in 1991, he received the Grammy Legend Award. The entire narrative of this documentary unfolds in a collage of interview snippets, backed by stock footage featuring Jones, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughan, among many others.

Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. -- A CELEBRATION OF SHORT FILM Sean Jones, Artistic Director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, will join in a conversation about rock and roll's roots in jazz with the Rock Hall's Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey and John Kisch, who organized the Jammin', Jazzin' and Jivin' exhibit. The evening will also feature screenings of several short films that are showcased in the exhibit, including Black and Tan (1929) Caldonia (1945) and The Nat King Cole Musical Story (1955).

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