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JazzTimes 10: Jazz on Film

Ten great examples of what happens when jazz goes to the movies—and the movies go to jazz

5. The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
Ah, the potent reminder of when jazz musicians were megastars. Krupa fit the larger-than-life definition of mid-century celebrity because that descriptor appeared to correspond to the dimensions of his drum sound. He is played by Sal Mineo, and this becomes one of those push-and-pull films. Should Krupa join the seminary? But wait—he loves his drums too much for a life of the cloth. Consider it a more benign version of the Robert Johnson crossroads mythos. Krupa isn’t discussed a lot as a technician because of the perceived flamboyance—and extreme volume—of his sound. Any opportunity is a good one to revisit his impeccable technique, which was even longer on feeling than chops.


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Originally Published

Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature—for a wide range of publications. He also talks regularly on the radio for the likes of NPR and Downtown with Rich Kimball. His most recent book, Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls (Tailwinds), was published in 2019, with an entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club to follow in 2020. Find him on the web at (where you’ll also find his unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.