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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, current events—for a wide range of publications, and talks regularly on radio and podcasts. His most recent books are an entry in the 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, a volume about the 1951 film Scrooge as the ultimate work of cinematic terror, and the story collection, If You [ ]: Fabula, Fantasy, F**kery, Hope. Find him on the web at colinfleminglit.com (where he maintains the unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.