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“Jam Session”: National Film Registry #13

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In the short film, “Jam Session,” Duke Ellington and his band perform “C Jam Blues.”  “Jam Session” is a “soundie,” the music videos of their day. These short musical films were produced largely between 1940 and 1946 for showing in Panorams, coin-operated film jukeboxes that were placed in nightclubs, bars, lounges and restaurants.  As Mark Cantor relates:

“In 1940, anyone in the habit of reading the entertain-ment trade publications – ‘Variety,’ ‘Hollywood Reporter,’ ‘Billboard,’ for example — would be aware that something very new and unique was on the horizon: an audiovisual jukebox, a jukebox with a screen! The vision was quite simple: If people were willing to pay a nickel to hear a current hit recording on a juke-box, then they could be enticed to spend a dime to hear and see a musical performance. “

Read the rest of the Cantor’s “Jam Session” (PDF) essay.

To watch the film in full, click on the link below.  You will be redirected to the LC’s “National Screening Room”:

“Jam Session”


Title:  “Jam Session”

Year of Release:  1942

Year Added to the National Film Registry:  2001  (See all films added to the Registry in 2001.)

This blog post is number 13 out of 30 in our “30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018.


  1. This is a great demonstration. Very well organized tutorial. Lot to learn here. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

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