It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to clue us in on who is the Queen of Jazz. It’s Ella Fitzgerald, my dear Watson, Lady Ella. William Basie began to boogie-woogie piano keys at a Harlem club catering to “uptown celebrities.” After a quick stomp through Kansas City, he came back as Count Basie. There are few true royalties among jazz, ask anyone waiting for residual checks, but as Duke Ellington made clear, these two had that thing which made them swing. Eagle Rock Entertainment is dropping two documentaries celebrating these American jazz icons: Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things and Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes exclusively on digital formats on Sept. 11.
“Recently enjoying a hugely successful Virtual Cinema release, Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things presents a deep, insightful look into the life of The ‘First Lady Of Song,’” according to the press statement. “Ella Fitzgerald’s journey is thoroughly explored, from her youth as a kid on the streets of Harlem during the Great Depression, to her meteoric rise to renowned jazz singer, innovator, and international superstar against the odds of severe racism and sexism.” The documentary was directed by award-winning filmmaker Leslie Woodhead and produced by novelist Reggie Nadelson.
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things combines never-before-seen footage with conversations with Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Itzhak Perlman, Norma Miller, the late Andre Previn, and a rare conversation with Ella Fitzgerald’s son, Ray Brown Jr.
Count Basie, the legendary bandleader, is revered for his musical achievements. During his 60 years as a musician, he helped elevate jazz to a serious, respected artform. He took the genre from clubs to concert halls, and was the first African-American to win a Grammy. Directed by Jeremy Marre, Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes “unveils the man behind the music, as Basie tells his story in his own words, according to the press statement. “A revealing biography of this jazz pioneer, the film uncovers his inspirations and passions, as well as his private and family life.”
The film layers home movies and photo albums around rare performances Basie did with artists like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sammy Davis Jr. The music underscores Basie’s “conversations of his relationship with wife Catherine (whose work in African-American causes placed her at the side of Martin Luther King) and his protective, undying love for his daughter Diane, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy,” the press statement reads.
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things and Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes will be available exclusively on digital formats on Sept. 11.