When Joe Albany passed away in 1988, he left behind a story rife with struggles and thwarted potential. Having studied piano as a child, Albany quickly rose to fame as he played with various big names in the jazz scene such as Miles Davis and Warne Marsh. His fall came in the 50s and 60s, as he battled with a heroin addiction and went through several failed marriages. In the 70s, he returned to his jazz roots, but has ultimately been largely forgotten by others in the jazz scene.
This is set to change in 2014, however, as poker-playing producer Burton Richie has just finished wrapping up a film based on Albany’s life. The film, entitled Low Down, takes from Albany’s daughter’s accounts of her life and relationship with her father in his darkest times.
Producer Burton Ritchie is quite new to the film scene. Although he has a reputation as a lifelong entrepreneur, Ritchie is more known for his efforts in the poker scene. He has repeatedly competed in the World Poker Tour, which partypoker.com claims to be “known by all poker players as the best tour in the world.” He’s also competed in the World Series of Poker since 2011. Ritchie started in poker when he, being an experienced entrepreneur with a knack for predicting the next big thing, discovered online poker in 2001. Being involved in the poker industry for over a decade, Ritchie has gone into other industries such as real estate.
In 2012, Ritchie established Heretic Films, the film production company funding Low Down. Commenting on making the film, Ritchie said “it was an unbelievable experience.” Thanks in part to the star-studded cast, the film is set to make headlines in 2014.
Ritchie jokes that he is “a Game of Thrones off-season employer”, since several members of his cast are from the critically-acclaimed TV show. John Hawkes, of American Gangster fame, is set to play Joe Albany in this upcoming biopic, but stars such as Glenn Close and Peter Dinklage are also to star in the movie.
The movie is said to be based on Amy Jo Albany’s book, Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood, is a supreme piece credited for its “virtuoso dialogue” and “dry and economical wit.” Low Down promises to be a moving, disturbing film about the broken life of a forgotten artist.