Watch the trailer. In Hell, Satan appears to tell us that rhythm is coming to life again, then we're taken to a sound stage where Jimmie Lunceford conducts his dance orchestra. He's in black tie and a tuxedo of white tales and black trousers. He announces that rhythm is our business, and that's the orchestra's first number, with vocal, sax, bass, and trumpet solos. Myra Johnson sings "You Can't Pull the Wool Over My Eyes" in her animated style, the Three Brown Jacks tap dance, and the short closes with two up-tempo numbers with two sax players tap dancing and the horn players taking off their tux coats to start a make-shift percussion section. As usual, we don't get anything too fancy visually but that's made up for in some great music.
During his youth, Lunceford studied music with Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of bandleader Paul Whiteman , and became proficient on all reed instruments. He earned a degree from Fisk University Nashville, Tenn. There he formed a student band in that featured several talented young players who stayed with the band when it turned professional in During performances, musicians would spin, toss, and catch their instruments with drill-team precision, incorporate dance routines or glee-club-style singing, and end each show with choreographed bows. Yet showmanship was always secondary to the music. Lunceford proved to be a much better leader than manager of his band. Morale in the band was low by , and members felt they had been overworked and underpaid.
James Melvin Lunceford June 6, — July 12, was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era. Lunceford was born on a farm in the Evergreen community, west of the Tombigbee River , near Fulton , Mississippi. Seven months after James Melvin was born, the family moved to Oklahoma City.
His family moved to Oklahoma City before Jimmie was a year old. The Luncefords eventually settled in Denver, where he went to high school and received instruction in music from Wilberforce J. Whiteman, the father of bandleader Paul Whiteman. The band quickly achieved professional stature, and recorded in Memphis for Columbia in and for Victor in By , the band—now merely Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra—had acquired its distinctive discipline and polish, with the tight section work for which it was to become celebrated. The Decca recordings, featuring arrangements by Sy Oliver and Eddie Durham, represent a consistently excellent body of work. The Lunceford Orchestra was a show band, and their musical precision was enhanced by the choreographed movements of the band in performance.