Drums West: Jim Henson’s Animated Tribute to Jazz Drummer Chico Hamilton (1961)

Judging by behind-the-scenes footage of a beardless Jim Henson animating "Drums West,” a 1961 homage to jazz drummer Chico Hamilton, one good sneeze and the party would’ve been over.

Animation is always a painstaking proposition, but the hundreds of tiny paper scraps Henson was contending with in an extremely cramped working space seem downright oppressive compared to the expansive visuals to which they gave rise.

The finished piece’s construction paper fireworks are everything iTunes Visualizer function strives to be. Speaking for myself, I can’t envision any computer-generated abstraction opening a magic portal that suddenly allowed even a philistine like me to appreciate a brush solo steeped in 50’s-era West Coast cool.

Surely Dr. Teeth would be down.

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Related Content:

Watch The Surreal 1960s Films and Commercials of Jim Henson

Jim Henson Teaches You How to Make Puppets in Vintage Footage From 1969

Jim Henson’s Animated Film, Limbo, the Organized Mind, Presented by Johnny Carson (1974)

Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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