“It’s just that jazz ain’t cool anymore,” the sexy saxophonist is told in the new Amazon Prime dramatic feature “Sylvie’s Love.”
But Viola Davis’ title character in Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” disagrees: “Blues helps you get out of bed in the morning.”
Who would have thought that one of the notable trends in filmed entertainment at this time would be an American art form born more than 120 years ago? Amid the stalled and rearranged film landscape of 2020, just as the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged as a cultural force, numerous film and TV projects are celebrating jazz, blues and other music associated with the Black experience, and its historically challenging path to full respect.
“Sadly, these projects remain timelessly relevant,” said James Erskine, director of the new documentary, “Billie,” about legendary jazz and blues singer Billie Holiday.
Besides those “Sylvie’s Love” and “Ma Rainey,” consider “The Eddy,” a Damien Chazelle Netflix series starring André Holland as a musician running a Paris jazz club. Or Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, which is filled with the sounds of Black British life (“The narrative is told through music,” McQueen said on “The Big Picture” podcast, “like putting together an album”). Next month, Hulu will release Lee Daniels’ feature “The United States vs Billie Holiday,” penned by playwright Suzan Lori-Parks.
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