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"The Savoy King is an important contribution to our knowledge and our history. I highly recommend this film."
"The Savoy King is enjoyable and convincing . . . the vibrant doc is rewarding for any Swing fan and, given some colorful and heartstring-pulling elements, will likely inspire filmmakers in the audience to wonder about biopic rights."
The Savoy Ballroom was the home of the Lindy Hop dancers, and the first venue in America where Blacks and Whites could dance and socialize together. Born fatherless and poor in Baltimore, Chick Webb developed childhood spinal tuberculosis and was a hunchbacked dwarf in constant pain, yet he virtually invented modern drumming and built the hottest Swing orchestra of the 1930s - the ‘house band’ of The Savoy Ballroom. Chick was mentored by Duke Ellington, toured with Louis Armstrong, argued with Jelly Roll Morton, jammed with Artie Shaw, discovered and practically adopted Ella Fitzgerald, beat Benny Goodman (with Gene Krupa) and Count Basie (with Billie Holiday) in battle of the bands, befriended Mario Bauzá ("The Father of Afro-Cuban Jazz"), fired Louis Jordan for trying to steal away Ella, encouraged a struggling Dizzy Gillespie, and helmed the first Black band to host a national radio show . . . all before drumming himself to death at age 30.
Featuring Corey Hawkins voicing the words of Chick Webb, Janet Jackson as Ella Fitzgerald, and John Legend as Duke Ellington, plus Bruce ’Sunpie’ Barnes, Rocky Carroll, Billy Crystal, Tyne Daly, Keith David, Andy Garcia, Danny Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Perlman, Billy Porter, Voza Rivers, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, and Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones.
Interviews and performances with Van Alexander, Louie Bellson, Ray Brown Jr., Richard Gale, Roy Haynes, John Isaacs, Gertrude Jeannette, Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dr. Muriel Petioni, Brad Rowe, Joe Wilder, and Rev. Edward Wilson.
video clip - The Savoy Ballroom
video clip - Chick Webb Southern Tour
"The director weaves an aesthetic tapestry that puts most likeminded non-fiction efforts to shame, so gracefully capturing the atmosphere of the 1930s swing scene that the film truly earns the term ‘immersive.’ It's a comprehensive documentary that never feels like a school lesson, conveying the rollicking spirit of its subject with a liveliness and joy that elucidates how an artist might, as in Chick's case, give everything - including his life - for his art.”
- The Village Voice
"This jubilant doc captures Jazz Age excitement.”
“Thoughtful, humorous, and heartfelt. The Savoy King is an excellent film that captures the energy and passion of our music. I loved it!"
- Terence Blanchard, Grammy-winning musician and composer
“I had a ball watching The Savoy King, and laude the filmmakers for the integrity and obvious devotion to presenting a first-class worldview of Chick Webb, our beloved Ella Fitzgerald, and the wonderful world of Harlem past. Kudos to all involved in the making of this masterpiece!"
- Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy and Tony Award winning singer, songwriter, and actress
“The Savoy King is a vibrant, evocative tribute to an unsung jazz giant, as seen through the eyes of people who knew and loved him, with an all-star voice cast, and wonderful music. I loved every minute of this film."
Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian