New silent film 'Louis' brings welcome attention to composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk
For something completely different, consider zipping to Strathmore Saturday night for the presentation of the new, fascinating silent film "Louis" with live musical soundtrack provided by Wynton Marsalis and his jazz ensemble, and classical pianist Cecile Licad.
The movie, directed by Dan Pritzker and shot be legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, offers a fanciful take on the boyhood experiences of Louis Armstrong. It's a wonderful homage to the art of silent film, for starters, and an entertaining story, too. (I confess I found the many brothel scenes -- with all that underwear from what looks like the 1910 edition of a Victoria's Secret catalog -- a little tiresome, but that's just me).
I saw the movie with a pre-recorded soundtrack by Marsalis and friends; the live version is likely to be even more fun. One of the coolest things about the project is the choice of Louis Moreau Gottschalk's music for the scenes where Licad plays, providing an atmospheric counterpoint to the jazz from Marsalis. Gottschalk, a composer with New Orleans roots, was one of America's first classical superstars in the mid-19th century. His music went way out of favor, but enjoyed a revival in the 1970s; a recording by the brilliant pianist Ivan Davis gave Gottschalk a particularly strong boost. Maybe "Louis" will start another renewal of appreciation for this colorful composer.
Here's a taste of Davis playing Gottschalk; I also thought you might like to see the trailer for "Louis":