When one thinks of jazz, we think of New Orleans, Louis Armstrong and Mardi Gras…right? But, do we ever for one moment think about who actually invented the jazz? Lucky for you, I have the answer and his name is Buddy Bolden.
Jazz is one of the few American art forms and the musicians who first gave it life shared legacy of inspiration, pain, love and demons. The beauty of jazz is between the lines, and its roots are still shrouded in mystery and beautiful alchemy. Charles “Buddy” Bolden was born in New Orleans in 1877 and was a bandleader sensation before Louis Armstrong and the first cornet player to emerge from ragtime and blues. Director and writer Dan Pritzker set out to change that.
Bolden invites the audience into the madness and genius of Buddy Bolden taking place between 1906 an 1931. A musical genius, Bolden was diagnosed with Schizophrenia inhabiting at least 29 different personalities that we know of. The film opens in with a sepia toned insane asylum were you hear Louis Armstrong on radio and Bolden wandering through the catacombs until he can find just the right vent the music is pumping through. Hailed as the “King of New Orleans Jazz” with a revolutionary approach to music – combining blues, gospel, ragtime, and signature improvisational riffs.
Through this cinematic journey we meet his wife Nora (YAYA DaCOSTA) deeply loved him and yet endured the pain he inflicted throughout their lives, and his manager Buddy Bartley (ERIK LaRAY HARVEY) who guided him to ecstatic highs and dangerous lows. Buddy’s life is portrayed to be just a frenetic like jazz shining light on what’s between those spaces between the stars. Apparently, there was only one recording of his music (never recovered) and one photograph to work with.
Yaya DaCosta is a revelation as Nora. Every moment she is on-screen is simply. magical and Reno Wilson as Louis is equally impressive as Louis Armstrong whilst playing his own riffs. However, Gary Carr as Buddy Bolden is turning in such an emotionally complicated and layered performance that one can’t help bu wonder how he was able to shake it off once the cameras shut down.
Beautifully shot and directed/written by Dan Pritzer, Bolden is a cinematic history lesson into one of our most treasured musicians. Produced by Abramorama and a Origianl soundtrack by Wynton Marsalis, Bolden hits theatres on May 3rd. Check your local listings for a theatre near you