A JAZZMAN’S BLUES A Tyler Perry Film 27 years in the making. Perry wrote the screenplay, in 1995
A Jazzman’s Blues premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2022, in select theaters on September 16, 2022, and will premiere on Netflix worldwide on September 23, 2022.
A Jazzman’s Blues is a grand story of forbidden love that reveals forty years of lies and secrets to the backdrop of juke joint blues in the deep South. Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer play star-crossed lovers Bayou and Leanne in Tyler Perry’s written, directed, and produced movie, which also features an ensemble cast that includes Amirah Vann, Austin Scott, Milauna Jemai Jackson, Brent Antonello, Brad Benedict, Kario Marcel, Lana Young, and Ryan Eggold. Ruth B. performs an original song in the movie, Terence Blanchard—a multi-Grammy winner and two-time Oscar nominee—arranges and produces the music, Aaron Zigman composes the score, and Debbie Allen choreographs the dance sequences.
The inside scenes were all filmed at the Tyler Perry Studio’s in Atlanta, and the outside scenes were all filmed in Savannah and Macon, Georgia. According to Tyler, there’s something about Spanish moss on an oak tree that’s moving in the breeze that already tells the story within itself.
Excerpts from a press release’s interview with Tyler Perry.
Given how long you have had this idea, it is an interesting time to release A JAZZMAN’S BLUES considering how timely so many of its issues are. How does it feel to be releasing it at this moment?
It’s a wonderful feeling, but also it’s tragic in the sense of, it showed up again in my life and I’m doing it at a time when there are so many people who are trying to eliminate the truth of the history of us as African American people. Some people who saw it said to me, “It’s a love story, but it’s so tragic.” And I was explaining to them, “Well, for us as Black people in America, a lot of our love stories at this time were tragic. We didn’t have the option to run away and live happily ever after. There were many things we had to overcome.” So I don’t want to water down our history or do away with it because I think it’s very important that we remember and acknowledge it and understand it.
Do you think the film actually taking so long to come to fruition actually helped in terms of honing your skills as a director?
Yes, I’m glad I didn’t do it 10, 20 years ago. It took the years of experience I had of being behind the camera and really understanding what that meant. It took working with directors like David Fincher and Adam McKay to really understand just the power of using the camera to tell a story. For me, in the beginning of my career, it was just about using the camera to tell the story, but I didn’t necessarily use it as a paintbrush. And my cinematographer Brett Pawlak, he read the script, we talked about it, I told him what I wanted it to look like and what I wanted it to feel like and he was absolutely brilliant in understanding it and helping me paint the image.
You also got to work with your buddy Debbie Allen on the choreography. How was that experience?
I brought the script to Debbie maybe 20 years ago. She was working at Dreamworks at the time and she loved it. We tried to get it done and nothing happened at the time. But then I brought it back around to her and I said, “Listen, I’m going to do this film and I’d love for you to do choreography.” She’s like, “Are you kidding me?” So to work with a legend? It was wonderful because Debbie Allen is dance. And to have her create these incredible numbers that really sold the whole moment. I was very, very fortunate to get that opportunity.
What do you hope viewers take away from the film?
The story and the passion of these people. And even though it’s a fictional movie to understand that these people actually existed, these struggles were common, these things actually happened. And if there’s a reverence for the past and we shouldn’t let anyone whitewash it and turn it into something that it wasn’t. If people start to realize how important it is that we maintain and tell these kinds of stories, then I think that it would be all that I want it to be.
A JAZZMAN’S BLUES Trailer
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