I sat in the Green Room waiting for actor and director Tyler Perry to arrive backstage at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center for the Colors of Conversation event during the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. Before hitting the stage for the panel, there was only a short window to interview him about his new project, A Jazz bluesa screenplay he had written in the 1990s.
Many know him from the Medea movies, which some say has limited his cinematic reach in terms of what he can do, but Perry is here to prove the naysayers wrong. “Filming was like, ‘I know something you don’t know,'” he said. “Throughout my career people would say Madea is all I can do. Today, 26 years later, I have Jazz blues.”
It was an idea he couldn’t get rid of. Imagine what it’s like to latch on to an idea and finally be able to execute said idea all these years later. According to Pretty, right now is the best time to present her story to the world. “Right now in America, t1=here’s an assault on our history. I feel wonderful to be able to do this now.
Jazz blues follows Bayou (Joshua Boone), a vocalist from the Deep South who falls in love with Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer) and follows the band through forty years of secrets and lies. The director pulled out all the stops, hiring legendary dancer/actress Debbie Allen to choreograph and Terrance Blanchard to arrange and produce the music. When depicting the main character’s emotional trajectory from the beginning to the end of the film, the director was very passionate about displaying all the hardships and emotions that come with being a black man in the Deep South.
“[Bayou] The entire arc is about the emotions, love, anger, and frustration that most of us carry through life at one point or another. Joshua Boone does an amazing job delivering a solid performance. Watching him be able to express all these different emotions and come to this sort of reunion is extremely powerful to watch.
Perry grew up in the Deep South, in rural Louisiana, where jazz was an influence on him. This experience gave him a special connection with matter. “Jazz was really the soundtrack to my life,” he said. Many stalwarts of the musical genre who inspired his upbringing have music featured in the film. “Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington and all these incredible voices inspire me.
As our time together drew to a close, I had to ask Perry if he was planning on working on any other projects. The blues of a jazzman exists outside of the Medeaverse and everything it has done so far. However, he understands that his recent filmography should not be ignored, as it has helped him get to where he is. “The Madea films were for my target, my audience. I made sure to serve the niche, which put me in a position where I could make time to write and perform other stories.
As I pressed him a bit more on what we can expect from the future Tyler Perry, you’d be surprised what he’s up to. “The next film I have just written is a film about the Second World War. I will play with space and bigger sets for sure.
There is no release date for The blues of a jazzman (which will be broadcast on Netflix). Additionally, there are no specific details about the WWII film yet. However, he announced at the Colors of Conversation event that the film would debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022.