TIFF 2022 – Louis Armstrong: Black & Blues
Drawing on Louis Armstrong’s audio diaries, documentarian Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men) revisits the music and reappraises the politics of the legendary jazz trumpeter and singer.
Louis Armstrong had kept recorded audio diaries of himself that reveal a different side of his personality than the showman on camera. Those tapes play a key role in this documentary portrait of the jazz musician.
filmmaker Sacha Jenkins, covered Armstrong’s worldwide career. The documentary‘s private footage of his show performances, while in concert, on the road, and at home. We hear past recordings of his contemporaries including Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw, as well as Armstrong’s second wife, pianist Lil Hardin, and his last wife, Lucille, to whom he was married for nearly 30 years. The Passages from his private correspondence were narrated by Nas.
Armstrong was perceived by a younger, more radical generation who thought he was overly accommodating to white audiences. Ossie Davis, Amiri Baraka, and Wynton Marsalis each attest to being detractors who turned into admirers.
The soundtrack is amazing, and it contains music from all his hits plus new music composed by Terence Blanchard. The film lets us enjoy Armstrong’s musicianship, singing skills, as well as conversation, joking around, his train of thoughts, and leaving a record of his life.
Throughout the documentary we see Armstrong on the world stage with the world’s top jazz musicians, being interviewed by icons such as Orson Wells and performing on top rated TV shows. We hear vintage audio, including icons: Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Artie Shaw, as well as Armstrong’s second wife, pianist Lil Hardin, and his last wife, Lucille.