LOUIS ARMSTRONG’S BLACK & BLUES – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Satchmo and Pops are the nicknames given to one of the greatest musicians America has ever produced. Beloved by the world and anyone fortunate enough to know him. I am talking about the one and only Louis Armstrong. In this new documentary directed by Sacha Jenkins, we are offered an intimate and revealing look at the world-changing musician. Not only is his story told by the musicians he influenced, but also through the lens of archival footage and never-before-heard home recordings and personal conversations. It turns out that Louis Armstrong had a love of recording his thoughts and his conversations with people that he knew. A lot of them were famous, just like he was. It is a who’s who of musicians that shaped the jazz world. He said he knew that history would want to write about him, and by making personal recordings and documenting his thoughts, he hoped they would get it right.
Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues honors Armstrong’s legacy as a founding father of jazz. And the fact that he was one of the first internationally known African American beloved stars and cultural ambassadors of the United States. This documentary shows how Armstrong’s life started in the poverty of New Orleans and ended happily and comfortably in his home in New York City. His career spanned five decades and several eras in the history of jazz, and he left his indelible imprint on it all.
The film also shows how he became a lightning rod figure in the turbulent Civil Rights Era. Many a young black and proud musician or actor publicly denounced “Pop’s” big grin and wiping away his sweat with a big white handkerchief as coming across too much like a minstrel or buffoonish. However, as his private personal feelings of how the black man’s struggle became more public, people had to take a second look at him and what he stood for. Yet, no matter what anyone thought of him, there was no denying Armstrong’s virtuoso talent when it came to making music with his horn.
I have been a fan of Satchmo since I was three years old when my grandmother showed me an old black-and-white movie he was in. I fell in love with the sound he made, and he was the reason I played the trumpet in elementary and high school. To say I am a fan is an understatement. So, believe me when I tell you that this documentary is a gem. It showed me sides of the man that even I didn’t know about. It made me fall in love with that sweet man with the horn all over again.
I give Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues 5-stars. It’s an intimate look at a man who blessed the world with his gift of music and song. It’s a film that many will buy and add to their library.
Directed by: Sacha Jenkins
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Running Time: 1h 44min
Limited theatrical Release: Premiering at Texas Theater and streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ October 28th
Starring: Louis Armstrong, Steve Allen, Ernie Anderson, NAS (Voice)
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.