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'Setting Record Straight' On Creach

September 18, 1987|THOMAS K. ARNOLD

LA JOLLA — Director Stevenson J. Palfi's objective in producing a video documentary on violinist Papa John Creach is best expressed in the title: "Setting the Record Straight."

The hourlong documentary, which premieres here Sunday night at Elario's nightclub, atop the Summerhouse Inn, traces the 70-year-old Creach's distinguished career as a veteran of the West Coast jazz and blues scene. It is an attempt to dispel the widespread misconception that Creach is "just an old black guy freaking out on the fiddle, playing acid rock," Palfi said.

"Papa John is one of the most versatile and talented musicians alive," said Palfi, who produced the documentary with grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. It will air on PBS in about a year.

"Unfortunately, however, most people know him only as a rock 'n' roller who played with the Jefferson Airplane, the Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna in the early 1970s," Palfi said.

"So my goal in making this video was to set the record straight that rock 'n' roll was actually the least challenging music Papa John ever played--and the best way to do this, the best way to show just how versatile Papa John really is, was by letting the music speak for itself."

On "Setting the Record Straight," the music certainly speaks. Among the concert clips are Creach with New Age pianist George Winston performing a duet of "St. Louis Blues," Creach and famed blues singer-saxophonist Eddie (Cleanhead) Vinson teaming up on "Cleanhead Blues" and "Perdido," and Creach with veteran jazz bassist Red Callender playing the Ragtime classic, "Twelfth Street Rag."

The Sunday premiere, which will be followed with a live appearance by Creach and his three-piece band, kicks off the violinist's six-week, Wednesday-through-Saturday engagement at Elario's.

"We decided to hold the premiere at Elario's because this club has consistently supported Papa John for several years now," Palfi said. "This documentary is a once-in-a-lifetime event--let's honor Papa John while he's still alive, instead of doing this stuff after the fact."

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