(Actor Anthony Coleman as a young Louis; photo credit: Peter Sorel)
According to a news release, “Louis,” a silent film directed by Dan Pritzker and starring Jackie Earle Haley, Shanti Lowry and Anthony Coleman, will premiere in the U.S. 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 DC, Detroit, and Philadelphia on 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 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,” Marsalis says in a news release. “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.” “Louis” is a companion piece to Pritzker’s “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce and Lowry. “Bolden” will be released theatrically in 2011.