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Wynton Marsalis Imagines Buddy Bolden

For a new biopic, the famed trumpeter channels “the man who invented jazz”

Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis (photo: Joe Martinez)

Nearly 120 years after his heyday in New Orleans, Charles “Buddy” Bolden, the cornet player and bandleader widely credited with inventing jazz at the dawn of the 20th century, may finally be about to get the attention he deserves.

Bolden, an independent feature film by director Dan Pritzker with original music composed and performed by Wynton Marsalis, opens nationwide in May. The movie chronicles Bolden’s high times amid the racism and casual violence of New Orleans circa 1900, and the musical achievements that led to rock star-like adulation and his crowning as “King Bolden.” It also details his sudden, tragic downfall: In 1907, at age 29, Bolden was committed to the state insane asylum in Jackson, La., where he would spend the last 24 years of his life.

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Allen Morrison

Allen Morrison is a music journalist, musician, jazz critic, lecturer, and a regular contributor to JazzTimes and 
DownBeat. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, Jazziz, American Songwriter, and Departures. He lectures frequently on jazz history aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Before becoming a full-time journalist, Allen worked as a music publicist and a pianist. He is working on a book on how musicians and non-musicians hear music. He maintains a blog at