DONALD LAMBERT ON FILM, 1932-1960

It’s so delightful to know that scholars of this music — brilliant young ones! — are carrying on the great work of honoring our collective ancestors. You have already heard about Matthew Rivera, Charles Iselin, Andrew Sammut, and Colin Hancock, among others. To this list I again add the name of Sterling J. Mosher III, pianist, researcher, archivist and more, who has now brought us filmed performances of stride pianist extraordinaire Donald Lambert, early and late. Here is his compact, friendly annotation:

As of November 2021, this is the full filmography of Donald Lambert. Dreams are that a full video of the 1960 Stride All Stars Program at the Newport Jazz Festival will be made public. As well as any possible amateur films of Don, perhaps by a visiting customer at Wallace’s or distant family.

00:03 The first film we see is from March of 1932, from the film “Ten Minutes To Die” (Oscar Micheaux.) Donald Lambert only is featured in one song with the band.

02:01 May of 1932, “Veiled Aristocrats” (Oscar Micheaux.) Donald walks in from stage right with the “piano tuner,” he is initially standing behind the piano while the tuner plays and a woman sings. Donald takes over for the tuner and performs for 2 songs. The final song is “Dragging My Heart Around.” Mabel Garrett sings and tap dances. Donald and all other persons on screen exchange goodbyes and exit stage left and right. We get a clear sound of Donald’s voice, sounding young at the age of 28. (Special Thanks to ARK THEATRE for uploading the cleanest film of both of these rare early pieces of Afro-American Cinema history.)

08:49 01 July, 1960. Newport Jazz Festival (Newport, R.I.) Stride All Stars Program. Donald appears in 3 clips here. The original speed, pitch, and quality is retained in these clips as they originally appeared. Some folks have taken the crystal clear audio from the recorded concert and placed it over the video at correct speed. Some of these videos are available at UNIGONFILMS on youtube. A television announcer narrates through all 3 clips. In order of the concert, Donald plays Anitra’s Dance, later plays Liza, then plays “Charleston” for two takes with Eubie Blake playing the upper register and The Danny Barker Trio. Willie The Lion Smith is seated off camera. Rudi Blesh is heard speaking several times, announcing to the concert attendees.

GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN.

Just astonishing. Thank you, Sterling, for your labors of love. Bless you, Donald Lambert, Oscar Micheaux, and Rudi Blesh.

May your happiness increase!

10 responses to “DONALD LAMBERT ON FILM, 1932-1960

  1. douglaspomeroy2871

    Years ago there was a 12″ Lp of Lambert recordings in audio of poor quality.. It is a revelation to hear these recordings. Lambert had amazing talent, and if he had made high quality disc recordings I believe he would be far better known today.

  2. Wistful Nostalgic

    Great clip!

  3. Wow! I didn’t know about “Ten Minutes to Die!” What a find!

  4. All thanks should go to Sterling J. Mosher III, who is a great treasure-finder!

  5. Simply amazing, all of it, including the dancers. Any clue the personnel of the Danny Barker Trio?

  6. Barker, Wellman Braud, Bernard Addison — yes yes yes!

  7. Thank you Michael for sharing that wonderful rare compilation of hidden gems. Kind regards, Bill.

  8. You are very welcome, but the man to thank is my phenomenal young friend, pianist and scholar Sterling J. Mosher III. He’s doing great things.

  9. Franz Hoffmann Germany

    It would interest me if this NPT clip is from our late friend Terkild Vinding who had filmed & parallel taped a lot from TV-screens. He had offered me this in the late 80s but asked to wait because he was offered better quality from both Boston & Chicago TVs who had re-broadcasted that session. But then the parcel was lost by post.. They must exist in his & John Fell´s collection brought to the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Club.

  10. That’s the lovely Mabel Garrett on both Micheaux’s films at the beginning. She later appeared at the Cotton Club and in the Broadway version of “Cabin in the Sky”.

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