Review: Dancin' just thinkin' about it

Our fifth annual short-film festival really moves
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 24, 2010

Best Music Video
The Groove Merchant: Traveling Salesman

The comedian Jerry Lewis inspired the Fogcutters Big Band's music video for their version of "The Groove Merchant," a snappy big-band tune composed by Jerome Richardson and originally arranged and performed by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. In the 1961 film The Errand Boy, Lewis sits at an empty boardroom table and pantomimes being the big boss to a Count Basie song. He wiggles his eyebrows to brass wails and crosses his eyes in time with staccato drumming, keeping his movements in line with the beat. The Groove Merchant: Traveling Salesman uses the same gimmick, to equally comic effect. The video, made in eight hours and filmed with the webcam built into a Macbook, tells the story of a door-to-door record salesman (Fogcutters baritone sax and clarinet player Brian Graham) and two skeptical customers (trombonist John Maclaine and trumpet player Mark Tipton). Complete with hand-flourishes, bugged eyes, and a brief teeny-bopper dancing interlude (nice moves, Graham!), the five-minute film is an apt tribute to Lewis, a charming love letter to a swinging song, and a reminder that music can be both fun and funny.


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