Dave Davidson (Director/Producer) and Amber Edwards (Director/Producer) are the principal partners at Hudson West Productions, a not-for-profit independent production company that has, for nearly 30 years, created documentaries about history, culture, music, art, and education. Founded in 1985, Hudson West’s mission is to fill in the cultural and historical gaps left by commercial media by preserving, interpreting, and presenting unique but overlooked narratives to a wide audience. Collectively Dave and Amber have created more than seventeen hours of national PBS programming, including nine episodes of the award-winning series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook (2010-2013;) A Place Out of Time: The Bordentown School (2010, Christopher Award;) Words and Music by Jerry Herman (2008;) George Segal: American Still Life (2001;) Against the Odds: Artists of the Harlem Renaissance (1994;) Vladimir Feltsman—Journey from Home (1993;) The Dancing Man—Peg Leg Bates (1992;) and Cissy Houston: Sweet Inspiration (1988.)
We have been making documentaries for more than thirty years that focus on people, places, and ideas that are in danger of being lost to time. We found a kindred spirit in musician, bandleader, and scholar, Vince Giordano.
Since the 1980s Vince has been the living embodiment of Hot Jazz, that raucous syncopated dance music that drove America into the Modern Age. In good times, Vince, as leader of his 11-member band The Nighthawks, has been a celebrated hero to Jazz fans. In the all-too-numerous lean times, when public taste drifted to other forms, Vince appeared to be the sole doctor in the ER keeping this unique music on life support.
As storytellers, we were fortunate to follow Vince and company through one of those cycles. Shortly after we began filming, The Nighthawks lost their regular gig at a club in New York’s Times Square—another victim of Manhattan real estate insanity. After that there were jobs—and some were very good—and over three years of shooting we witnessed a gradual renaissance of Hot Jazz, driven by a flood of young enthusiastic players, all of whom revere Vince and the Nighthawks as the sine qua non of early jazz. By the time we wrapped the production, Vince Giordano and the music he loves were back in the cultural spotlight.
Of course the film features plenty of the infectious music that the Village Voice refers to as “Rock and Roll – Prohibition-style”, but we also follow the day-to-day grind as Vince and his partner, Carol Hughes, search for scarce bookings, hire and fire musicians, load the van with tons of equipment and charts and doggedly chase down vintage arrangements that might otherwise land in a dumpster. Whether clad in his tuxedo leading the band, or in shirtsleeves hefting a one-hundred-pound celeste into the battered Econoline, Vince never wavered in his obsession to keep this magical music alive. Our film is a testament to his mantra— “There’s a Future in the Past”.
Dave Davidson & Amber Edwards