The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America

New York Magazine and IndieWire “Critic’s Pick” – The New York Film Festival

Audience award winner – The Seattle International Film Festival

With Janet Jackson voicing the words of Ella Fitzgerald, John Legend as Duke Ellington, Billy Crystal as Mezz Mezzrow, Andy Garcia as Mario Bauzá, Tyne Daly as Helen Oakley Dance, Ron Perlman as Gene Krupa, Danny Glover as Count Basie, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson as Teddy McRae, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Dizzy Gillespie, Keith David as Charles Buchanan, Harlem Arts Alliance founder Voza Rivers as Sandy Williams, New Orleans musician Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes as Barney Bigard, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts as Stanley Dance, and narration by Rocky Carroll of NCIS.

Featuring interviews, singing, dancing, and drumming, 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.

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 Hollywood Reporter

What Chick did for me can never be repaid. Always thinking of others, always in pain, but no one knew it - he was the kind that comes along once every thousand years.

Ella Fitzgerald

This jubilant docu captures Jazz Age excitement with a lively portrait of bandleader/drummer Chick Webb, whose music intersected with and rivaled that of jazz's most illustrious names.

Variety

The Savoy King is an important contribution to our knowledge and our history. I highly recommend this film.

Harry Belafonte

What a story! The Savoy King is a great flick. The Harlem Jazz movement, Chick Webb, and the Savoy is a fascinating, mind-blowing chapter in American cultural history. I LOVED this film.

actor Rainn Wilson (The Office)

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

I really enjoyed The Savoy King, and found it quite uplifting. Chick Webb was one of the most intriguing musicians in the history of Jazz, and I really loved him by the end of the film. Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for sharing this inspiring story with us in a very entertaining fashion.

Terry Zwigoff, director of Crumb, Bad Santa, and Ghost World

The Savoy King is an excellent film that is able to capture the energy and passion of our music. The story of Chick Webb is unique and wonderful. The way Jeff Kaufman has presented Chick's tale fits perfectly with that. It was thoughtful, humorous, and heartfelt. I loved it!

Grammy-winning trumpeter, bandleader, and film score composer Terence Blanchard

I had a ball watching this documentary, I was filled with immense pride knowing all that Mr. Webb overcame personally and physically to impart his musical vision to the world. Kudos to all involved in the making of this masterpiece!

Dee Dee Bridgewater, three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Tony Award-winning actress, and host of National Public Radio's JazzSet

A music documentary -- in this case one on Chick Webb - is a fantastic way to start this year's (New York Film Festival) press screenings; certainly the subject makes for very, very nice surprise and constitutes a very smart bit of curatorial recognition.

The Huffington Post

The Savoy King is an incredible, comprehensive, and entertaining film. This is a must see!

Debbie Allen, actress, dancer, choreographer, director, and producer (Fame, Everybody Hates Chris, Grey's Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance)

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, critic, broadcaster, and author of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

The Savoy King is a wonderful film – dynamic and true to the spirit of its subject. If Chick Webb's life had been a novel, filmmakers would have lined up to option it. Through genius and a fabled will, Chick became a true titan in American music. In telling this remarkable story of an indispensable man, Jeff Kaufman has made one of the great musical documentaries of our time.

Music and film critic Gary Giddins, author of Visions of Jazz, and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Gertrude Jeannette, Jeff, Joe Wilder, Voza Rivers

December 16, 2014

Jeff and Andy Garcia

Jeff and Andy Garcia

December 16, 2014

Van Alexander and Marcia

Van Alexander and Marcia

December 16, 2014

John Legend and Jeff

John Legend and Jeff

December 16, 2014

Van Alexander, Norma Miller, Jeff Kaufman

Van Alexander, Norma Miller, Jeff Kaufman

July 23, 2014

Harlem Jazz

Harlem Jazz

July 23, 2014

Savoy back-flip

Savoy back-flip

July 23, 2014

Dec Savoy poster

Dec Savoy poster

July 23, 2014

Savoy Ballroom, 1941

Savoy Ballroom, 1941

July 23, 2014

Savoy Ballroom dancers

Savoy Ballroom dancers

July 23, 2014

Moe Gale & Chick 1939

Moe Gale & Chick 1939

July 23, 2014

July 1938, Fairyland

July 1938, Fairyland

July 23, 2014

Chick, Ella, Paramount, 3-7-39

Chick, Ella, Paramount, 3-7-39

July 23, 2014

Chick Webb, Artie Shaw, and Duke Ellington

Chick Webb, Artie Shaw, and Duke Ellington

July 23, 2014

Chick Webb, Mario Bauzá, Ella Fitzgerald

Chick Webb, Mario Bauzá, Ella Fitzgerald

July 23, 2014

Chick Webb 1939

Chick Webb 1939

July 23, 2014

Chick Webb and Drums

Chick Webb and Drums

July 23, 2014

Big Apple flier 1937

Big Apple flier 1937

July 23, 2014

Chick & Ella

Chick & Ella

July 23, 2014

Signed Chick Webb poster

Signed Chick Webb poster

July 23, 2014