Tag Archives: louis armstrong

HBO’s “Treme” kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

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HBO's "Treme" kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

‘Louis the Movie’

16 Sep

From the Associated Press. Although unfortunate that the screenings with live music by Wynton Marsalis was only held in five cities, it is encouraging that the director intends to eventually get the film out to a larger audience, even if it means adding a recorded soundtrack.

—-                        —-                                —-                          —-

Dan Pritzker has spent more than 15 years and millions of dollars trying to bring the story of a jazz singer of whom little is known to the big screen.

0802 louis armstrong.JPG

Then he decided to release another movie first. And not just any other movie, but a silent, black-and-white movie about Louis Armstrong.

“Since I finished the silent film first, it’s kind of like I finished my second film before I finished my first, which is a little ridiculous,” Pritzker acknowledged.

Pritzker, the billionaire son of the late Hyatt hotel magnate Jay Pritzker and a musician in his own right with the R&B band Sonia Dada, had intended to release “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, as his debut film project. It’s about Buddy Bolden, the cornet player virtually unknown in most circles but credited with being one of the creators of jazz.

But while Pritzker was writing the script for that movie in 2001, he took his mother to see the Charlie Chaplin classic “City Lights,” complete with a live symphony, in Chicago. He decided it would be a challenge to make a silent film as well, one that was supposed to pick up where “Bolden” left off.

That’s where the inspiration for “Louis” was born. It tells a fictional story of a 6-year-old Louis Armstrong (played by Anthony Coleman), whose dreams of playing the trumpet are intertwined with the seedy, corrupt underworld of early 20th century New Orleans. Jackie Earle Haley plays an evil, corrupt politician with more than a passing interest in a brothel, and Shanti Lowry stars as the beautiful prostitute who captures the heart of the politician and young Louis.

Lowry, who stars in both movies as the same character, said she didn’t know what to expect while filming the silent “Louis,” but she wasn’t at a disadvantage because neither did anyone else, including Pritzker.

“Dan was in the same boat with us. He’d never done it before,” Lowry said. “And every day we got on the set and created the scene. It was not always exactly what was on the page. … It was an adventure every day.”

The movie, photographed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, opened Aug. 25 in Chicago, played in Detroit, and is scheduled to be screened in Bethesda, Md., New York and Philadelphia over the next few days. Each showing will feature live accompaniment by jazz great Wynton Marsalis, the film’s executive producer, his 10-piece ensemble, and pianist Cecile Licad.

Right now, there are no plans to show “Louis” in other theaters after its initial dates. But Pritzker said he’ll figure out how to bring “Louis” to a wider audience, even if it means showing the movie with recorded music instead of a live orchestra.

“I’ve been showing it to people with music just attached to it,” he said. “Humility aside, it came out really well, and it plays completely.”

Lowry agrees, saying she doesn’t care if it’s a commercial success but only hopes those who do see it “Louis” love it as much as she does.

“It’s like a museum piece,” she said. “You could freeze frame any piece and put it on a wall.”

Now that “Louis” is out, Pritzker can concentrate once again on his first love, the movie “Bolden.”

Bolden was institutionalized in 1907 and died in 1931 without leaving behind a single recorded note of music, but is considered by many historians as an integral figure in the creation of jazz.

“It’s the poetry and the tragedy — an anonymous black guy who created this music that’s incredible,” Pritzker said. “Jazz is the American art form.

http://www.louisthemovie.com/

The Associated Press

'Louis the Movie'

16 Sep

From the Associated Press. Although unfortunate that the screenings with live music by Wynton Marsalis was only held in five cities, it is encouraging that the director intends to eventually get the film out to a larger audience, even if it means adding a recorded soundtrack.

—-                        —-                                —-                          —-

Dan Pritzker has spent more than 15 years and millions of dollars trying to bring the story of a jazz singer of whom little is known to the big screen.

0802 louis armstrong.JPG

Then he decided to release another movie first. And not just any other movie, but a silent, black-and-white movie about Louis Armstrong.

“Since I finished the silent film first, it’s kind of like I finished my second film before I finished my first, which is a little ridiculous,” Pritzker acknowledged.

Pritzker, the billionaire son of the late Hyatt hotel magnate Jay Pritzker and a musician in his own right with the R&B band Sonia Dada, had intended to release “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, as his debut film project. It’s about Buddy Bolden, the cornet player virtually unknown in most circles but credited with being one of the creators of jazz.

But while Pritzker was writing the script for that movie in 2001, he took his mother to see the Charlie Chaplin classic “City Lights,” complete with a live symphony, in Chicago. He decided it would be a challenge to make a silent film as well, one that was supposed to pick up where “Bolden” left off.

That’s where the inspiration for “Louis” was born. It tells a fictional story of a 6-year-old Louis Armstrong (played by Anthony Coleman), whose dreams of playing the trumpet are intertwined with the seedy, corrupt underworld of early 20th century New Orleans. Jackie Earle Haley plays an evil, corrupt politician with more than a passing interest in a brothel, and Shanti Lowry stars as the beautiful prostitute who captures the heart of the politician and young Louis.

Lowry, who stars in both movies as the same character, said she didn’t know what to expect while filming the silent “Louis,” but she wasn’t at a disadvantage because neither did anyone else, including Pritzker.

“Dan was in the same boat with us. He’d never done it before,” Lowry said. “And every day we got on the set and created the scene. It was not always exactly what was on the page. … It was an adventure every day.”

The movie, photographed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, opened Aug. 25 in Chicago, played in Detroit, and is scheduled to be screened in Bethesda, Md., New York and Philadelphia over the next few days. Each showing will feature live accompaniment by jazz great Wynton Marsalis, the film’s executive producer, his 10-piece ensemble, and pianist Cecile Licad.

Right now, there are no plans to show “Louis” in other theaters after its initial dates. But Pritzker said he’ll figure out how to bring “Louis” to a wider audience, even if it means showing the movie with recorded music instead of a live orchestra.

“I’ve been showing it to people with music just attached to it,” he said. “Humility aside, it came out really well, and it plays completely.”

Lowry agrees, saying she doesn’t care if it’s a commercial success but only hopes those who do see it “Louis” love it as much as she does.

“It’s like a museum piece,” she said. “You could freeze frame any piece and put it on a wall.”

Now that “Louis” is out, Pritzker can concentrate once again on his first love, the movie “Bolden.”

Bolden was institutionalized in 1907 and died in 1931 without leaving behind a single recorded note of music, but is considered by many historians as an integral figure in the creation of jazz.

“It’s the poetry and the tragedy — an anonymous black guy who created this music that’s incredible,” Pritzker said. “Jazz is the American art form.

http://www.louisthemovie.com/

The Associated Press

A Fly on the Studio Wall

7 Dec

One of the great things about being in my job is having the opportunity to interview world-class musicians, or introduce them on stage at concerts. Of course the chance to hear them play live right in front of me, or learn interesting things about them during an interview is amazing, but for me the most entertaining part is the discussions that happen before the tape is rolling or before the show begins.

This is the time where, even if it is only a sentence or two, I feel you can really get the coolest story of the event.

I have yet to run into sax man Joshua Redman in a bad mood backstage. He remembers names, asks about other people at the radio station by name and tells me to say hello to them for him.

While walking on stage to introduce Wynton Marsalis, one of his band members told me to wait a second because he wanted to know where the best place to eat after the show was.

The late Michael Brecker made it clear to me multiple times in one interview, after complimenting his recordings, that if I really wanted to enjoy his music, “you need to hear that **** live.”

And the great Clark Terry, after a wonderful interview and performance, was kind enough to join some of the staff and listeners for a sandwich. God bless him, as he fell asleep while I was in the middle of a sentence. In his defense, most people start falling asleep when I talk too much.

Thinking about this made me start wondering about all of the great conversations and interactions that took place “off-mic” in recording sessions that we never got to hear.

For example, to be a fly on the wall, Christmas Eve, 1954. Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk are in a recording session that reportedly almost came to blows because Miles didn’t want Monk playing during his solos. Give their recording of The Man I Love a listen, and you can almost hear the animosity. I would have loved to hear that conversation take place.

Or perhaps some studio sessions with slightly less violent interactions. How about Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (or any recording session with either of those two guys)? I can only imagine the conversations that took place when the tape wasn’t rolling.

Certainly there are many sessions that would have been great to be a fly on the wall for, and no doubt that with all of the ones that are racing through my mind right now, I am probably forgetting some that would have been the best.

I invite you to share who you would have liked to overhear in the studio when the microphones were off.

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