Pianist Cecile Licad takes a jazz tour

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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).