Home » Movie » Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues film evaluation (2022)

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues film evaluation (2022)


A serious a part of Armstrong’s success got here from his uncanny knack for seeming to search out the rainbow in each cloud. (His final chart-topper, and one among his largest successes, was “What a Fantastic World.”) Consider him singing or talking, and also you image him smiling or laughing. However these laughs and smiles had been multilayered, generally calculated, and at all times imbued with secondary associations that eluded most people however had been crystal clear to Armstrong’s household, companions, and shut associates. 

Probably the most revelatory and thrilling elements of the movie are the sections the place we get to listen to Armstrong and his associates on tape, speaking the way in which outstanding artists and entertainers do when cameras aren’t on them and no person within the room is searching for a “gotcha” quote. Armstrong was an awesome storyteller it doesn’t matter what venue he was in, however it’s a particular kick to listen to him telling bawdy tales about his childhood in New Orleans and slicing free with four- and twelve-letter profanities (that are as musical in his supply as any phrase he blew on his horn). 

There is a great quote from Marsalis right here appreciating Armstrong’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—a music that is an emotional and mental minefield for People who had been by no means really welcome in their very own nation—and evaluating it to Jimi Hendrix’s model. Marsalis concludes that Armstrong concurrently difficult and purified the music, transmitting complicated emotions to the listener via pure approach. Reclaimed it, in a means. (One other anecdote finds James Baldwin listening to Armstrong carry out the anthem, then saying that it was the primary time he’d ever preferred the music.)

The movie takes a serpentine (and generally figure-eight) path via its topic life and output, utilizing its “collage” identification to go locations you may not anticipate it to go, usually at surprising moments. Nevertheless it additionally generally leaves particular subjects or interval in Armstrong’s profession before the viewer may want, and jumps round in time so matter-of-factly that generally it is onerous to instantly discern the place we’re in his life. 

And but these are all options of the movie’s model, not bugs. This isn’t a conventional “after which he went there, after which he did this” film. It is biographical jazz that allows digressions and offers itself the liberty to leap round because it pleases. If “Black & Blues” returns to the identical melody a number of too many instances, it does not diminish the general achievement, which feels free in a means that these types of movies hardly ever do.

On Apple TV+ tomorrow, October twenty eighth.



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