Podtalk: Sacha Jenkins Directs ‘Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues’

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CHICAGO – One of the most prominent Americans musicians in the 20th Century, if not one of the greatest, was Louis Armstrong. The memorable black trumpeter, vocalist and outsized personality found success in the Jim Crow era, and how he did it is spotlighted in Sacha Jenkin’s documentary “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in New Orleans in 1901, and was raised by his mother and grandmother in poverty. As the documentary reveals, his unlawful street activities landed him in a “colored waif’s” detention school, where he learned discipline and played in the band. After stepping out of school, he began to play on riverboats, and began to develop his signature style. He followed his mentor King Oliver to Chicago, where he did his first recordings and introduced himself to the wider world. His ascension in music, the movies and as a worldwide ambassador of goodwill took off throughout the decades to follow, when he became a superstar.

“LA1"
The legendary Satchmo in ‘Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues’
Photo credit: Apple TV+

In Sacha Jenkin’s documentary there is an exploration beyond the ever-smiling Armstrong, who took precise dictation of his life and settled with his fourth wife Lucille for the last thirty years of his life (d. 1971). While he never publicly seemed to be affected by the pervasive racism of the American South (and its more hidden aspects in the North), he was outspoken about the treatment of blacks in society, and refused to play in a hotel that he couldn’t stay at. That angle completes a deeper portrait of the man nicknamed Satchmo … who transcended his roots to become a beloved and almost symbolic icon for the better angels of our nature.

Director Sacha Jenkin is known as a television producer, filmmaker, writer, musician, artist, curator, and chronicler of hip-hop, graffiti, punk, and metal cultures. His documentary of Armstrong is a departure from his previous subjects (Rick James, the Wu-Tang Clan and 50 Cent), but in many ways – as he notes in the interview below – Armstrong is the man who paved the way for all other entertainers, black and white, to become who they are.

“LA2"
‘Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues,’ Directed by Sacha Jenkins (inset)
Photo credit: Apple TV+

In Part One of a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, director Sacha Jenkins reflects on Louis Armstrong, “the coolest person ever” …

In Part Two, Jenkins talks about the legacy of Armstrong’s life, lived on his terms …

”Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues” streams on Apple TV+ beginning October 28th. Featuring the life and times of “Satchmo,” “Satch” and Pops, the unforgettable Louis Armstrong. Directed by Sacha Jenkins. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Editor, Film Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2022 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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