Louis @ The Barbican

The trumpeter at the gates of dawn


The fact that all our tickets had been upgraded, due to the pretty conspicuous lack of audience, was the first great surprise on that moody Sunday night.
The second one, involved a crafty quartet we commonly faced at the Barbican's freestage, while savouring yummy sandwiches from the bar - courtesy of the London Jazz Festival (the quartet, not the sandwiches, obviously...).
The third and final one, was Louis itself. As a movie and as a project in its whole.
Set in a seedy part of New Orleans in the beginning of the 20th century, the movie Louis found jolly and generous little Louis Armstrong exposed in the darker realities of life, all the while dribbling over an expensive cornet in a shop window.
Inspired by the Charlie Chaplin silent era and shot in funny-moving black and white, it was beautifully surprising and insightful, re-enacting the environment that united Armstrong with the instrument that changed his life - and a lot of other people's lives as well.
The soundtrack Louis, written by veteran trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, was played live by a masterfully versatile band dead set to give us goose-bumps. Capable of swinging notes and atmospheres in the blink of an eye, the dynamic ensemble (which comprised a few of Marsalis' trusted associates) pretty much sounded like a few bands in one.
Compared to the Man With A Movie Camera by In The Nursery, where at almost any given instant you could recognize the trademark ITN sound, this gang would have you guessing. Excellent pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Herlin Riley and their bandmates under the baguette of trumpeter Wycliffe Gordon didn't skip a beat, keeping up with the adventures and mishaps in the life of a budding genius.
They deservedly received a farewell standing ovation from the audience, including the boy that played Louis onscreen.
This audience wasn't as insignificant as our ticket upgrade may have suggested, but still, you wonder where all the rest had been. 
The rest who? 
Armstrong lovers; jazz lovers; film and music lovers. I really hope they didn't spend their hard-earned cash to see Boyce Avenue, just another youtube star band, thanks to a series of banal and cheesy covers. 
Cause that London night was pretty much sold out...

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