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A film by Jeanne Gayle Pool (2006)


As a performer on saxophones, clarinet, violin, and vibes, as well as a singer, arranger, and contractor for women musicians, Peggy Gilbert has been a one-woman support network and staunch advocate for women since the 1920s. A professional tenor saxophonist for more than 80 years, she has been an inspiration for several generations of musicians.


In January 2006, Peggy Gilbert celebrated her 101st birthday, displaying a vivacity that belied her age. Perhaps she has lived so long so that she can tell the stories of the remarkable women musicians of her generation. These women broke down the barriers before them, enabling female instrumentalists both to be taken seriously as musicians and to develop professional careers.

Her last ensemble, "Peggy Gilbert and The Dixie Belles," played hot Dixieland jazz on national television, at jazz festivals, and in concerts from 1974 to 1994. Appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Golden Girls, Ellen, Simon & Simon, and other sit-coms, made them famous coast-to-coast, even as octogenarians. Peggy herself continued to do television commercials well into her nineties.

This documentary tells Peggy Gilbert's story with more than seven hundred rare photographs of women musicians and all-girl bands. The film also includes rare film clips and stills from movies (beginning in 1931) in which Peggy's band appeared, plus invaluable radio air-check tapes and recordings from the 1930s and '40s.

Directed, written, and produced by Jeannie Gayle Pool, a music historian and composer, the production was made possible with funding from The Silva Watson Moonwalk Foundation and private donors, in association with North Wind Quintet of Los Angeles. Glenn Winters is the Editor. The film features performances of The Dixie Belles and includes an original score composed by Jeannie Gayle Pool. It had its premiere screening in May 2006 in Miami.


"Peggy Gilbert & Her All-Girl Band' is an inspiring, delightful and heartwarming portrait of an indomitable and ageless woman who broke through stereotypes and pioneered the way for women musicians everywhere. Alternating between interviews with Peggy (whose wry humor, remarkable memory, and spunky sweetness shine through like a good jazz riff) and bits of Americana, in fascinating personal photos and nostalgic postcards (from more innocent, less hurried times) through the courage and sacrifice of war to the establishment of fair practices she forwarded via the Musicians'Union. This is a multi-layered portrait of a great woman and a burgeoning America. Narrated by Lily Tomlin and full of insightful interviews with a treasury of jazz and music greats, this film by Jeannie Pool touches the heart and the funny bone and strengthens anyone's backbone — because this gal is such a survivor, we all have no excuses for not making things in life go better for everyone we care about. 'Peggy Gilbert & Her All-Girl Band' will appeal to musicians and non-musicians, to young and old alike, to anyone who has ever asked, 'What does it take to make a difference?' It's a saga. Don't miss it!" - Carol Worthey, Composer​

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