“Louis” a Silent Movie with Live Accompaniment by Wynton and Jazz Ensemble to Premiere in August

Posted on May 21st, 2010 in Concerts | Tags: concerts, louis armstrong, louis the movie, new orleans, soundtrack

“Louis,” a silent film directed by Dan Pritzker and starring Jackie Earle Haley, Shanti Lowry and Anthony Coleman, will premiere in US cities in late August with live musical accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis, renowned pianist Cecile Licad and a 10-piece all-star jazz ensemble, including Sherman Irby, Victor Goines, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, Kurt Bacher, Vincent Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez, Ali Jackson, and conductor Andy Farber. Marsalis will play a score comprised primarily of his own compositions. Licad will play the music of 19th century American composer L.M. Gottschalk.

The group will perform live with the film in a series of special performances in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Philadelphia from August 25-31. Partial proceeds from the five concerts will benefit Providence Saint Mel School in Chicago, IL in honor of Paul J. Adams III

Shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond as a modern re-imagining of early silent film, “Louis” is an homage to Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, beautiful women and the birth of American music. The grand Storyville bordellos, alleys and cemeteries of 1907 New Orleans provide a backdrop of lust, blood and magic for 6 year old Louis (Anthony Coleman-pictured above; photo credit: Peter Sorel) as he navigates the colorful intricacies of life in the city. Young Louis’s dreams of playing the trumpet are interrupted by a chance meeting with a beautiful and vulnerable girl named Grace (Lowry) and her baby, Jasmine. Haley, in a performance reminiscent of the great comic stars of the silent screen, plays the evil Judge Perry who is determined not to let Jasmine’s true heritage derail his candidacy for governor.

“The idea of accompanying a silent film telling a mythical tale of a young Louis Armstrong was appealing to me,” says Marsalis. “Of course, calling it a silent film is a misnomer — there will be plenty of music, and jazz is like a conversation between the players so there’ll be no shortage of dialogue. I look forward to playing with Cecile. The contrast between Gottschalk’s music and jazz can be a revelation to those unfamiliar with Gottschalk’s music and jazz.”

“The combination of Cecile playing Gottschalk and Wynton and his ensemble playing jazz reflects the wide-ranging nature of the American musical landscape,” notes Pritzker.

“‘Louis’ came about when I was writing a screenplay about Buddy Bolden, the first jazz trumpeter of New Orleans, and I took my mom to see Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ with the Chicago Symphony performing the score. It was without a doubt the best movie experience I ever had. The challenge of trying to tell a story visually, without dialogue, was compelling. I thought that if I was going to shoot one film, I might as well try to shoot two—the second being a silent film that picked up where “Bolden” ended. And it put Vilmos and me on even footing—he’d never made a silent film before either.”

“Louis” is a companion piece to Pritzker’s “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce and Lowry. “Bolden” will be released theatrically in 2011.

Tour dates for “Louis” with Wynton Marsalis and Cecile Licad:

Wednesday, August 25—Symphony Center, Chicago

Thursday, August 26—Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, August 28—Strathmore Center, Bethesda, Md.

Monday, August 30—Apollo Theatre, Harlem, NYC

Tuesday, August 31—Keswick Theatre, Glenside (Philadelphia) Pa.

The film is rated “R” – Restricted (Some Sexual Content), so that U.17 must be accompanied by parent or guardian.