“Piano Players Rarely Play Together,” a documentary made by Stevenson Palfi in the early 1980s, explores the musical lineage of Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Isidore Washington, and their predecessors. The film screens Monday through Wednesday at Zeitgeist.
On October 20, 1981 Stevenson Palfi completed “Piano Players Rarely Play Together,” the best New Orleans musical documentary ever made. After two years of dazzling film festival audiences around the world, PBS aired the video on June 7, 1984. Critics agreed with Village Voice writer Michael Goodwin’s assessment, “…the most soulful celebration of New Orleans piano-playing ever made.”
Blaine Dunlap, Director of The Southeast Media Preservation Lab, recently completed a two-year, $40,000 effort to digitally restore Stevenson Palfi’s landmark 1982 New Orleans music. Now you can see it during a three-night limited engagement at Zeitgeist Community Theater at 1618 Oretha C. Haley Blvd. starting at 7:30pm November 28th to 30th. Also screening is Palfi’s last completed work, the 13-minute “The World According to Ernie K-Doe”.
The story-line that Stevenson invented to guide the production is simple: trace the musical genealogy of New Orleans R&B by working backwards from a master of contemporary pop songwriting, Allen Toussaint, to the man who inspired him the most, Henry “Professor Longhair” Byrd, to Fess’s mentor, Isidore “Tuts” Washington, who heard the great New Orleans masters of the early 20th century.
Each of the artists is shown in several contexts: in front of their audience, in an intimate interview setting, and all together. Palfi located and licensed several exuberant Professor Longhair television performances with the Meters from the late 1970s; they just tear up the place with Tipitina, Whole Lot of Loving, and If You Come to New Orleans.
This special Zeitgeist event will support the nonprofit video restoration efforts of the Southeast Media Preservation Lab. Event tickets are $7 or free with a DVD purchase. For more information about the event or to purchase the DVD and tickets visit http://www.analoglab.org/content/invitation-nell-and-polly.