Pianist Cecile Licad takes a jazz tour


Sarah Black

Pianist Cecile Licad

            Pianist Cecile Licad, whose romantic temperament is well documented and whose interest in chamber music is far reaching, takes both proclivities to a new place in her latest venture. She’s about to embark on a five-city tour with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and an all-star band – to play live accompaniment for a new silent movie, "Louis," on the early life of jazz icon Louis Armstrong.
            No, Licad will not be playing riffs on Marsalis’ trumpet flourishes. She’ll be contributing the sort of thing she does best: music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (which she has recorded for Naxos) to lend the film what director Dan Pritzker calls an aura of silent-film authenticity.
            Pritzker makes no pretense that his film, which opens Aug. 25 in Chicago, is a bio-pic. He calls it a fantasy on Armstrong’s street-wise, musically irrepressible youth in New Orleans. Here's a sneak peek. And why did he pick Licad to supply Gottschalk’s romantic atmosphere?
            Because, he says, she imbues that New Orleans-born composer with just the right gutsy, opulent sound, “like Chopin after he’s been to Dodge City.”
            The “Louis” screening tour continues Aug. 26 in Detroit, then goes on to Bethesda, Md. (Aug. 28), New York City (Aug. 30) and the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside (Aug. 31).

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Lawrence B. Johnson
Lawrence B. Johnson is a performing arts critic specializing in theater and classical music. He is the former international wine writer for The Detroit News. The recipient of many journalism awards, Johnson has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit News, The Milwaukee Sentinel and magazines running the gamut from Musical America and Opera News to Playboy. Johnson, who grew up in Indiana, is a graduate of Indiana State University, where he received a degree in humanistic studies with concentrations in French literature, philosophy and music history. In 1975, he was awarded a mid-career journalism fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities for study at the University of Michigan, where he focused on classical Greek drama, Shakespeare and modern playwrights. He has taught journalism, criticism and music history at Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wayne State University and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.