Very rarely are we fortunate enough to get an inside view into the earliest days of the great jazz tradition. This outstanding 1989 documentary by Preston McClanahan focuses on the life of bassist Chester Zardis - the "last of the first" great African-American jazz pioneers, a master of the bass, and an important African-American jazz innovator. At a time when most legendary bebop figures had already passed away, Zardis was still performing the same new Orleans Dixieland music that he had been playing throughout his unparalleled 70-year career! Filmed during the last year of his life - Zardis died shortly after the making of this documentary at 90-years old - the bassist is captured performing in various settings, ranging from solo bass to duets with multi-instrumentalist Danny Barker to performances with trumpeters kid Sheik Colar and Wendell Brunious, trombonist Louis Nelson, and clarinetist Michael White, to name a few. The film also boasts insightful commentary and a dazzling performance by Milt Hinton, who gives us a special glimpse into the evolution of the bass in jazz. The New Orleans ambience is delightful, with Mrs. Bertha Zardis cooking up a batch of shrimp etoufee, gospel music in the local church, and scenes of Zardis reminiscing about the old days with a group of neighborhood children. Danny Barker provides poignant testimony on the trials and tribulations of life as a black musician trying to make it in New Orleans, while two of the foremost authorities - musicologists Bill Russell and Alan Lomax - give a detailed analysis on the development of this magical and unique musical tradition.