Review: ‘Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past’ shows it’s hard work keeping old-time jazz alive

Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, as seen in the documentary "Vince Giordano: There's a Future in the Past."
(Michael Lenic)

Unless you’re a jazz aficionado or a denizen of New York’s classier nightclubs and society functions, you may not be familiar with the work of Vince Giordano — even though the bandleader and music archivist has been one of the most in-demand early 20th century Americana revivalists for decades.

Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards’ documentary “Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past” is a fine introduction to a musician so respected that filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese have called on him to help re-create the sounds of the ’20s and ’30s in their period pictures. Always, Giordano strives to transport audiences of today into another world.

Davidson and Edwards reveal what it takes to be a working musician, making a living in the 2010s with songs nearly a century old. From the outside, Giordano looks successful. But he still sweats finding regular gigs for his big band, and he’s still schlepping instruments and an extensive collection of vintage sheet music around the country.

Giordano’s combo is road-tested, bringing vitality and showmanship to moldy oldies. “There’s a Future in the Past” is equally balanced between its smoking-hot live performances, interviews and day-in-the-life footage.


There’s less in the film about why it matters to keep history alive, instead of creating something new. But by showing the exhausting diligence that goes into moments of pure transcendent joy onstage, this doc should make new fans for Giordano’s living museum.


“Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past”

Not rated


Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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