Apple picks up new Louis Armstrong documentary

Apple Original Films has given the green light to a new feature-length documentary on Louis Armstrong being produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries.

Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong offers “a definitive look at the master musician’s life and legacy as a founding father of jazz, the first pop star and a cultural ambassador of the United States,” according to a news release.

The film will be directed by Emmy nominee Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men), and produced by Jenkins, Julie Anderson, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes. Grazer and Howard are serving as executive producers.

“He was loved by millions worldwide but often mischaracterized for not doing enough to support the civil rights movement,” the news release continues. “In reality, his fight for social justice was fueled by his celebrity and his willingness to break his silence on issues of segregation and patriotism.”

With the support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the filmmakers have access to never-before-seen archival materials including audio recordings, film footage, photographs, personal diaries and “a life’s worth of ephemera.”

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Previous films on the jazz legend include 1999’s The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong and 2000’s Louis Armstrong: Satchmo. This is likely to be the most high-profile Louis Armstrong documentary to date.

Last year, it was announced that France’s MK2 Films had picked up a documentary project called Louis Armstrong: The Cause of Happiness, directed by Thibaut de Longeville. However, MK2 ended up backing out after learning that the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation had no involvement in the film and hadn’t given access to Armstrong’s personal archives.

Apple’s other recent music documentaries include Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You, directed by Thom Zimny; Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, directed by R.J. Cutler; and Beastie Boys Story, directed by Spike Jonze.