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JazzTimes 10: Jazz on Film

Ten great examples of what happens when jazz goes to the movies—and the movies go to jazz

8. St. Louis Blues (1958)
Bolden is jazz’s lost, lore-laden figure, but W.C. Handy, who was not lost, might have been forgotten if not for the efforts of Louis Armstrong—who revered him—and this Nat King Cole-starring film, with a sizable assist from Eartha Kitt. Handy’s music was loaded with the blues. The best jazz often is, a trend/reality that Handy helped fructify. My passion for this one stems from that earthy quality. Ella Fitzgerald, who also has a part here, was so smitten with the title song that she worked it into her concerts, and Cole’s album of Handy cuts is one of the top dusty-drawer treasures of his output, buried away in a cloth sack in a bin in a mine. But now you know where to find it.

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Originally Published

Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature—for a wide range of publications. He also talks regularly on the radio for the likes of NPR and Downtown with Rich Kimball. His most recent book, Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls (Tailwinds), was published in 2019, with an entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club to follow in 2020. Find him on the web at (where you’ll also find his unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.