Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues – TIFF 2022

Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues – TIFF 2022

Follow the life and legacy of the master and so-called founding father of jazz, America’s first pop star, and cultural ambassador.

Audio diaries help to dispel the myths about jazz legend in Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues. Known for his trumpeting and deep, raspy voice, Louis Armstrong was viewed by many as the Prime Minister of the world of jazz. However, Louis Armstrong was never public about his opinions or politics, resulting in a younger, more radical generation perceiving him as overly accommodating to a white audience. With the help of audio diaries recorded as his home, the man behind the musician can surface.


Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues is a documentary about the legendary jazz musician directed by journalist Sacha Jenkins. In addition to telling the story of Louis Armstrong's five-decade-long career, the film uses audio recordings to illustrate the real man behind Armstrong's always-smiling public persona. The film also features personal journal entries by Louis Armstrong, narrated by the rapper Nas.

Most people would probably best know Louis Armstrong for his 1967 recording of “What a Wonderful World,” which became one of his biggest hits, despite being recorded quite late in his career. Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues revisits Armstrong's career as a successful black man in a music industry controlled by white people. This, of course, resulted in criticisms of Louis Armstrong being someone who accommodated white people. Though it would turn out that the real Louis Armstrong was different than the jazz trumpeter on stage.

It is jarring sometimes to listen to Louis Armstrong's audio diaries in Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues and hear him use some very colourful language that he would never say in public. The recordings reveal the humanity of Louis Armstrong and show that he did have political views that he chose never to share in public.

With a career beginning in the 1920s and lasting until his death in 1977, Louis Armstrong is undoubtedly one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues helps pull back the curtain on the man behind his always-smiling public facade.

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Trailer for Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues – TIFF 2022

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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