sugar B.
Stephan Sachs

"sugar B." is neither a "portrait of an artist" in the traditional sense, nor is it a conventional music film. It is a film essay.

The central theme builds upon research about the untimely death of the jazz musician James C. Booker in 1983. He was known as "The Piano Prince" of New Orleans. Virtuoso changes in style and daring to offbeat arrangements were his specialty. He played together with many famous musicians, several of which he deeply influenced. Nevertheless, the 'big break' was ultimately denied him. He had the stuff of stardom, but in hindsight was regarded as unpredictable.

Conscious refusal to play up to the Market, or painful side effect of his excessive life? Rebellious stubbornness as reaction to the lack of big-time recognition, or in fact the actual cause thereof?

Flirting with artistic clichés, or conscious spreading of stories in order to maintain a degree of personal freedom?

The attempt to examine and understand this colorful personality raises questions about the posturing of the artist, based upon the general impression of "the artist" in contemporary commerce-oriented society.

This approach is expressed on film in a complex array of levels: from flamboyant and over-the-top outbursts to faint yet dense atmospheric passages. The music, as well as the visual lushness of the many-facetted city of New Orleans, contribute heavily to this thoroughly sensuous "Southern ballad"...