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Jivin' in Be-Bop is a 1947 musical film. It was produced by William D. Alexander and stars Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra,[1] which included notable musicians such as bassist Ray Brown, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and pianist John Lewis.[2] The film also features singers Helen Humes and Kenny "Pancho" Hagood, Master of Ceremonies Freddie Carter, and a group of dancers.[2]

Jivin' in Be-Bop
Jivin' in Bebop.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byLeonard Anderson
Spencer Williams
Produced byWilliam D. Alexander
StarringDizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra
Helen Humes
Kenny "Pancho" Hagood
Freddie Carter
Release date
  • 1947 (1947)
Running time
60 minutes

The film consists of a plotless revue presented in a theatrical setting, offering a total of 19 musical and dance numbers. Gillespie and his band are shown performing eight songs, including "Salt Peanuts", "One Bass Hit", "Oop Bop Sh'Bam", and "He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped". The band plays off-camera while dancers perform during the remaining songs, which include "Shaw 'Nuff", "A Night in Tunisia", "Grosvenor Square", and "Ornithology".[2][3]

The liner notes that accompany the DVD release suggest the tracks were prerecorded.[4] One of Gillespie's biographers confirms this,[5] although at least one critic believes the musicians were playing live.[4]

The dancing in the film has been described as "dull and frequently silly" by writer Phil Hall, who wrote that Jivin' in Be-Bop includes "one of the worst ballets ever put on film".[6]

Gillespie's dancing, on the other hand, is generally praised. One writer said "his unique technique is shown to great effect" in the film.[7] One biographer described Gillespie "skipping about the stage",[8] and another wrote that Gillespie was "quite happy to dance to the band's sounds, ... spinning around and mugging in front of the band".[5]

Between the songs, Carter tells jokes and banters with Gillespie. Film historian Donald Bogle described the comic routines as "dull-witted".[9] Bogle went on: "There are only two redeeming factors here: namely Dizzy Gillespie and vocalist Helen Humes. Otherwise the proceedings are pretty dreary."[9]

Home video releaseEdit

A 1993 video, Things to Come, included the eight on-screen performances by Gillespie and the band from Jivin' in Be-Bop, together with some numbers from another Alexander-produced musical, Rhythm in a Riff, which featured Billy Eckstine.[10][11]

Jivin' in Be-Bop was released on DVD in 2004. The between-song banter between Carter and Gillespie was cut.[6][12] According to one reviewer, the DVD was produced from a badly damaged print, which made portions of the film "unwatchable".[4]


  1. ^ Moon, Spencer (1997). Reel Black Talk: A Sourcebook of 50 American Filmmakers. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-313-29830-0.
  2. ^ a b c Yanow, Scott (2004). Jazz on Film: The Complete Story of the Musicians & Music Onscreen. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. pp. 80–82. ISBN 0-87930-783-8.
  3. ^ Yurochko, Bob (1993). A Short History of Jazz. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-8304-1595-5.
  4. ^ a b c Kauffman, Jeffrey (January 29, 2008). "Jivin' in Be-Bop". DVD Talk. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Shipton, Alyn (1999). Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 0-19-514410-4.
  6. ^ a b Hall, Phil (August 17, 2004). "Jivin' in Be-Bop". Film Threat. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Shepard, T. Brooks (May–June 1997). "Master of the Horn". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  8. ^ Gentry, Tony (1991). Dizzy Gillespie. Los Angeles: Holloway House. p. 128. ISBN 0-87067-778-0.
  9. ^ a b Peterson, Bernard L. (1997). Early Black American Playwrights and Dramatic Writers. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-313-26621-2.
  10. ^ Deffaa, Chip (April 2, 1993). "Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Eckstine: Things To Come". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  11. ^ Yanow. Jazz on Film. p. 133.
  12. ^ Calder, Robert R. (December 22, 2004). "Dizzy Gillespie: Jivin' in Bebop". PopMatters. Retrieved April 10, 2009.

External linksEdit