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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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.