Louis and “Louis”

Gravestone and tomb of jazz great Louis "...

The graves of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong and his wife Lucille at Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, NY. And yet the man is "alive" some 41 years after his demise (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Kalamu‘s NeoGriot turned me onto both of these films, although I’ve already seen Satchmo on educational TV in California long ago.

Apparently, the recent move towards making some silent films like The Artist and Silent Movie is not something new. This is a trailer from a silent film called Louis that was released in 2010.

If you can imagine Louis Armstrong as a little boy of six, playing Indian, hankering for adventure on the streets and dreaming of his first trumpet, then this is your movie.

The boy who plays the young Louis Armstrong is Anthony Isaiah Coleman. The website for Louis is here. Yes, the soundtrack features Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, as well as his music and that of composer and pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk. This year, Louis makes its European debut at the London Jazz Festival in mid-November at The Barbican. As with its New York and Chicago openings, there will be a jazz band accompanying the film.

I am touched by this trailer; if only the real Louis could have seen this. The screen urchins look well taken care of compared to what Louis and his friends must have really looked like as street children. But through all the homages to Chaplin, and to silent film melodrama, and to Storyville, it gives one a clue about his beginnings: what kind of little boy he must have been, and how he came to be a genius as a human being and as a musician.

And then from fantasy to reality with Satchmo. This 2000 documentary is assembled from the pieces on YouTube and hopefully, without infringing on the copyright. Even when the public largely moved away from Armstrong’s music, and discovered be-bop and hard jazz and the beginnings of jazz-rock, he remained steadfast in his interpretation—and enjoyment—of the idiom.


~ by blksista on January 22, 2012.

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