Denzel Washington stars as a self-centred jazz trumpeter whose single-minded ambition alienates everyone who cares about him in Spike Lee’s striking drama full of vigorous, stylish camerawork and a killer jazz score.
Financially irresponsible Giant (Spike Lee) manages a jazz group, but his sax player, Shadow (Wesley Snipes), wants to replace him with a better businessman. When Bleak (Denzel Washington), the band's trumpeter, tries to defend Giant - his close friend – it leads to a power struggle between the two musicians. Meanwhile, as Bleak tries to straighten things out with his band mates and manager, he’s trying to juggle his affections between Indigo (Joie Lee), a school teacher who has no time for his ego, and Clarke (Cynda Williams), a sultry aspiring singer whom Bleek keeps rejecting offers from of vocal help within the band whilst at the same time taking full advantage of her looks.
Whilst maybe lacking the edge of Lee's more overtly political works, Mo Better Blues is stacked full of ideas and moments of technical virtuosity, not to mention great music, and is his personal ode to the art of jazz and its roots in the African American experience.