Only Vince Giordano would proclaim himself the “King of Schlep,” dressed in an elegant tuxedo as he lugs heavy instruments and equipment up equally elegant stairs.
The Smithtown native, recently inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame for leading the jazz band The Nighthawks and playing on the Oscar-nominated score for the movie “Carol” last year, is that kind of character — the stuff of documentarians’ dreams.
Filmmakers Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards recognized that immediately when they met Giordano as they worked on an episode of the PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook.” They wanted the rest of the world to experience meeting him too and that’s what happens in their new documentary “Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past,” which opens at Cinema Village in Manhattan on Jan. 13.
“His music is so thrilling, so infectious and addictive,” said Edwards, who began following Giordano for the film in 2012. “In documentaries, you want to start with a character who wants something. Vince is almost monomaniacal with his passion. He says it’s his religion.”
Throughout “There’s a Future in the Past,” Davidson and Edwards, who directed and produced the film, show what Giordano goes through to keep his beloved jazz from the 1920s alive, both by performing it every week with his band The Nighthawks and by preserving it in the sheet music museum of sorts that he has created in his Brooklyn home. However, it’s not all blue skies for Giordano, even though his music has become part of films like “The Aviator” and Woody Allen’s “Café Society” and was a regular on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” (A band member jokes about Giordano’s life, “A day without chest pains is a day without sunshine.”)
“The story lies in the things that befall him as he works to keep the dream alive,” said Davidson, whose most recent documentary, “A Gesture and a Word,” about singer-songwriter Rob Morsberger, was released last year. “We weren’t sure it was going to have a happy ending.”
As much as “There’s a Future in the Past” is about Giordano’s music, it is also about what life as a musician is actually like. “Many musicians have seen this and almost to a person they say they are laughing and crying at the same time,” Edwards said. “This is exactly the life. It’s tragic and comic at the same time. It’s what happens when you’re trying to swim upstream and do something different.”
WHAT “Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past”
WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m. daily Jan. 13-19, Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St., Manhattan
INFO $8-$12; 212-924-3364, cinemavillage.com