“What a scene it must have been back in the hurly-burly of Storyville, as jazz was being born.
In that fabled red-light and saloon district in early 20th-century New Orleans, brass marches, refined waltzes, ragtime tunes and spirituals emanated from brothels, street parades, churches and dance halls, merging into a musical gumbo that future jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet would refine and serve to a music-hungry nation.
The new play “Emboldened” by Reginald Andre Jackson aims to evoke that rich musical polyphony and some of the colorful people responsible for it. It also tries to penetrate the mystique of jazz pioneer Charles “Buddy” Bolden, whose presciently raw, improvisational music stylings are as legendary as his precipitous descent into madness.
With the essential enrichment of a live combo led by drummer-composer D’Vonne Lewis, Jackson and director Robin Lynn Smith offer a savory taste of black New Orleans life and music from the era when “King” Bolden ruled the scene.“