For Tyler Perry, now is the time to dream. Nearly 30 years in the making, the multi-hyphenate talent released clips from her upcoming sweeping epic, The blues of a jazzmanat the 20th Annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival on August 6.
Told over 50 years, from 1937 to 1987, the romantic drama follows the forbidden romance between lovers Bayou (Joshua Boone) and Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer).
Shot with photography by Brett Pawlak, the film reveals five decades of intertwined secrets and lies set to a bluesy juke joint soundtrack. The film also stars Amirah Vann, Austin Scott, Milauna Jemai Jackson, Brent Antonello, Brad Benedict, Kario Marcel, Lana Young, and Ryan Eggold. The songs for the film were arranged and produced by multiple Grammy Award winner and two-time Academy Award nominee Terence Blanchard with music by Aaron Zigman. The choreography was in charge of the legendary Debbie Allen.
Ahead of The Color of Conversations at MVAAFF, Shadow and Act spoke exclusively with Perry about A Jazzman’s Blues, why the film took nearly 30 years to make, and how his career will change and expand in the future.
The blues of a jazzman it was the first screenplay Perry wrote. She wrote the script in the 90s and although it was bought in 2006, the project never came to fruition until now. “The landscape never agreed,” she said. “I wrote it in 1995 and waited for the right time to do it. I never knew when the time was right because I was building the brand and doing the things that I knew my audience wanted. My focus was always making sure we had a hit. Because, as a black person, it could change your entire career if you have a flop. But seeing what’s happening now, a lot of people in politics want to rewrite black history, marginalize them, change them, and dilute them. I thought, ‘This is the time to tell the story.’”
Perry initially hoped to star as Bayou, but fell out of the role.
However, when it came time to launch the project, he knew he wanted to share his platform with newcomers. “If you look at my entire career with the people I work with, they’ve always been people that a lot of people didn’t know at the time but have become big stars,” he explained. “Huge stars. Viola Davis. Idriss [Elba]Sofía Vergara, I could go on and on with the names, but having these two people in The Jazzman’s BlueBecause people haven’t seen it yet, I think it allows you to tell the story and not have to get over the vastness of it once it’s over.”
Since the film has been his passion project for years, it was imperative for Perry to partner with a studio that would allow his vision to come to light exactly as he envisioned it.
“I’ve been very lucky in the way that I’ve made movies,” he said. “It’s always been about bringing it to viewers the way I see it, so working with Netflix has been really cool because they understand me. I don’t have a problem where they’re restricting this, they wouldn’t or they wouldn’t do that. The blues of a jazzman it’s the same story; It has never changed from 1995 to now.”
The blues of a jazzman It will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It will premiere on Netflix on September 23.