Here’s my JazzTimes interview with Wynton Marsalis about channeling legendary cornetist Buddy Bolden, known as “the man who invented jazz,” for the film Bolden, which opens nationwide today (May 3, 2019). I recommend that everyone who cares about jazz see the film and check out the soundtrack. Wynton and colleagues did a brilliant job imagining what Bolden’s group sounded like – there are no existing recordings of them. He also recreated the excitement of a 1930s-era concert by Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra, with the help of the gifted actor-singer Reno Wilson as Pops.
Category Archives: Louis Armstrong
If you’re free on Sunday afternoon, 2/5/17, join me for a look back at The Great Jazz Singers (Part 1) – From Satchmo to Lady Day. I’ll be speaking – and playing killer film clips – at the Freeport Memorial Library on Merrick Road at 2:30 pm, and it’s free.
Here’s my first piece for The Guardian: a look back on the history of jazz-on-film – the good, the bad and the ugly – pegged to the forthcoming release of two remarkable films about jazz. “Born to be Blue,” with Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker, opens March 25. Don Cheadle’s “Miles Ahead,” about you-know-who, opens April 1.
The article includes a list of my five favorite films about jazz and jazz musicians. The Guardian didn’t have room for my honorable mentions, but here they are:
- Keep On Keepin’ On (2014) – poignant, inspirational documentary about the great trumpeter Clark Terry and his star pupil, the blind pianist Justin Kauflin;
- Mo’ Better Blues (1990) – Spike Lee’s serious attempt to portray the lives of modern jazz musicians, with stirring music by the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Terrence Blanchard);
- Ray (2004) – Taylor Hackford’s conventional but still exhilarating biopic about Ray Charles, with a pull-all-the-stops-out performance by musician/actor Jamie Foxx; and
- Robert Altman’s Kansas City (1996) – Despite jazz being somewhat peripheral to the rather hackneyed crime story, it includes one of the best sequences of live jazz ever filmed, a cutting contest between Coleman Hawkins (saxophonist Craig Handy) and Ben Webster (saxophonist James Carter).