I’ve always believed this, but now I have even more proof: visible and audible in excerpts from a 1935 Oscar Micheaux film, MURDER IN HARLEM (also called LEM HAWKINS’ CONFESSION) which has several scenes at a party, with extraordinary music provided by Clarence Williams and his Orchestra: Cecil Scott, clarinet / tenor saxophone; unknown tenor; Jimmy McLin, guitar; Willie “the Lion” Smith and Hank Duncan, piano; Eunice Wilson, vocal / dance; unknown tap dancer:
I believe that is Clarence himself singing I CAN’T DANCE (I GOT ANTS IN MY PANTS); the tap dancer works out to a themeless DOIN’ THE NEW LOW DOWN; the band returns to I CAN’T DANCE behind the odd “bogeyman” scene; Eunice Wilson shows off her talents to HARLEM RHYTHM DANCE.
Thanks to the eminent and diligent jazz scholar Franz Hoffmann for sharing this with us — it’s rather like discovering Leo Watson on film. (Thanks also to Tom Saunders for commenting on this on Facebook.)
Cecil’s sound is absolutely unmistakable — and the Lion AND Hank Duncan on film in their prime? Astonishing.
Who would have thought that a film with some connection to the 1913 Leo Frank case would have had such delightfully jubilant music?
May your happiness increase!