Pioneers of African-American Cinema

It's arrived -- thanks in part to a successful Kickstarter campaign, this nearly comprehensive compendium of American 'Race Films' is here in a deluxe Blu-ray presentation. Pioneers of African-American Cinema Blu-ray Kino Classics 1915-1946 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 952 min. / Street Date July 26, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 99.95 Directed by Richard Norman, Richard Maurice, Spencer Williams and Oscar Micheaux

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Black Cinema History? We didn't hear a peep about any such thing back in film school. Sometime in the 1980s PBS would broadcast a barely watchable (see sample just below) copy of a creaky silent 'race movie' about a 'backsliding' black man in trouble with the law, the Lord and his wife in that order. The cultural segregation has been almost complete. It wasn't until even later that I read articles about a long-extinct nationwide circuit of movie theaters catering to black audiences, wherever the populations were big enough to support the trade.
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Review: 'The Leftovers' - 'Off Ramp': Wrath of the Guilty Remnant?

  • Hitfix
Review: 'The Leftovers' - 'Off Ramp': Wrath of the Guilty Remnant?
A review of tonight's "The Leftovers" coming up just as soon as I email my manuscript to myself... "They won't jump out of the way." -Laurie After two episodes set largely in Jarden, "The Leftovers" returns to the Tri-State area(*), and to the most divisive of the many divisive elements of season 1, with Laurie and Tommy taking on the Guilty Remnant in "Off Ramp." (*) No, not that Tri-State area, even if Damon Lindelof wrote a "Lost"-themed "Phineas & Ferb" episode. When Laurie's potential book publisher asks her to explain exactly what the Remnant believes and why, he's acting as a stand-in for the many "Leftovers" viewers who didn't understand and/or like what all those chain-smoking ghouls in white jumpsuits were up to last season. And with Laurie finally able to speak — she speaks so much in this episode that you can feel all those words relieved to get out
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‘Birdman,’ ‘Whiplash’ Get a Punch From Jazz

‘Birdman,’ ‘Whiplash’ Get a Punch From Jazz
It might be America’s most indigenous art form, but jazz has been dying on the vine for many years, accounting for just a miniscule fraction of music sales in the marketplace, and lacking the kind of star power that Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock brought to the form in their heyday.

But the year in movies seems to have resurrected the form. Sundance sensation “Whiplash,” perhaps the most acclaimed indie release of the year, is not only about an aspiring jazz drummer, but its inspiration is decidedly old school: drummer Buddy Rich and the big band jazz tradition.

Other talked about indies include “Low Down,” a real-life tale inspired by jazz pianist Joe Albany and his struggles with heroin addiction, and the documentary “Keep on Keepin’ On,” which, like “Whiplash,” is about the relationship between a mentor, jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry, and acolyte, blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Drummer Antonio Sanchez Sets The Cadence For His Birdman Score

“Rhythm is everything in cinema,” says director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

Making the unique choice for the Birdman soundtrack, Iñárritu went with an almost total drum score by four-time Grammy Award winner Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez is considered by many critics and musicians alike to be one of the most prominent drummers, bandleaders and composers of his generation.

Sanchez will open the 2014 Hollywood Music in Media Awards with a special drum performance from Birdman. Held at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood on Tuesday, November 4, Sanchez will play his critically acclaimed drum score live to a scene from the film.

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career,
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Anniversaries: Dinah Washington Born 90 Years Ago

Dinah Washington (8/29/24-12/14/63) was one of the last great examples of female blues singers regularly working in a jazz band context. Many aficionados would say that she was surpassed in this style only by Bessie Smith. First Issue: The Dinah Washington Story, the two-cd set that proudly features the commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 1993 to mark the 30th anniversary of her premature death at age 39 (from an overdose of alcohol and diet pills), offers the finest overview of Washington's artistry, ranging from her first records under her own name in 1943 to her classic material for the Verve, Mercury, EmArcy, and Wing labels from 1946 through 1961 (with at least one item from every year in that span), missing only her last two years, when she was on Roulette.

As vocalist expert Chris Albertson's liner notes observe, "Dinah was a gospel, blues, pop, and jazz singer all rolled into one,
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Dream Team: The Semi-Mysterious Story Behind the Music of 'Twin Peaks'

Dream Team: The Semi-Mysterious Story Behind the Music of 'Twin Peaks'
"Are you kidding me, man?!" composer Angelo Badalamenti howls jokingly when Rolling Stone asks him what he thought of Twin Peaks, the TV series he scored in the early Nineties. "It was really off the wall. I thought it was either going to sink violently down the drain or, hopefully, capture the intrigue of enthusiastic people conversing by the office water cooler on a Monday morning."

12 Things We Learned from David Lynch's Talk at Bam

As it turned out, Twin Peaks was an instant hit when it premiered on April 8th,
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Film Review: ‘The Pleasures of Being Out of Step’

Film Review: ‘The Pleasures of Being Out of Step’
It would be difficult to determine in which domain Nat Hentoff, premiere jazz critic and highly controversial First Amendment rights champion, contributed more to the public consciousness. Documentarian David L. Lewis makes no attempt to do so in “The Pleasures of Being Out of Step,” cavalierly swinging back and forth between Hentoff’s musical and political activism, much as Hentoff himself did. Stooped at almost 90 but feisty and humor-filled as ever, Hentoff presides over a film rich in the sounds and occasional sights of legendary cultural figures, from Lenny Bruce and Malcolm X to Bob Dylan and Coleman Hawkins.

Controversy-seeking yet affably mild-mannered, Hentoff thoroughly sticks to his beliefs with an iconoclasm that has nothing to do with political correctness. The fact that he started writing out of a passionate commitment to jazz artists gave his writing an immediacy and engagement that, when coupled with his intellectual acuity, gifted jazz
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Sundance Film Review: ‘Low Down’

Sundance Film Review: ‘Low Down’
Striking a moody, complementary downbeat to electrifying Sundance opener “Whiplash,” “Low Down” traces two years in the life of noted jazz pianist Joe Albany, who played with the likes of Charlie Parker and Lester Young and died after a long battle with heroin addiction in 1988 at age 63. It’s a familiar story of music-world success, failure and addiction, admirably but unevenly told by first-time feature director Jeff Preiss, who certainly knows the music and the milieu, but proves less adept at shaping the material into a consistently compelling narrative. A gallery of very fine performances from John Hawkes, Elle Fanning and Glenn Close should draw deserved critical kudos, but the pic’s measured pace and unyielding depressive air put a definite damper on commercial prospects.

Low Down” is based on the memoir of the same name by Albany’s daughter, Amy-Jo, who also co-authored the screenplay (with Topper Lilien) and
See full article at Variety - Film News »

DVD Review: 'Beware of Mr. Baker'

  • CineVue
★★★☆☆ The very fact that rockumentary Beware of Mr. Baker (2012) exists at all is solely down to director Jay Bulger's strange passion for the irate and ferociously talented flame-haired drummer Ginger Baker. Not that the musician doesn't deserve his own documentary, but it was both brave and insightful of Bulger to choose the fledgling Baker as a subject, dust him down and reintroduce the man to a world that had almost forgotten he existed. Last year's critically acclaimed Searching for Sugar Man (2012) also trod a similar path, but if Rodriguez is a softly-spoken, peace-loving messianic figure, then Baker is the Antichrist.

Some may see only a bitter and acid-tongued musical monster, who spends the majority of the film seemingly wishing Bulger would put him back under the rock he found him under. Undoubtedly a master of his instrument, Baker grew up in South London during the blitz, lost his father
See full article at CineVue »

Beware of Mr Baker – review

Jay Bulger, the American director of TV commercials and writer on rock music, comes to the task of making a documentary on wild man and virtuoso drummer Ginger Baker with one important qualification: while a student at New York's Fordham University he boxed in several Golden Gloves tournaments for young amateur pugilists. At the end of their extended filming session in South Africa where the septuagenarian Baker now lives, Bulger remarked that he was going on to film interviews with Ginger's former associates. Furious at this suggestion, Baker unleashed a string of obscene abuse and then struck Bulger with the walking stick he's being using since developing osteoarthritis. The blow broke the documentarist's nose, and we're shown it at the beginning and end of Beware of Mr Baker. Like the experienced fighter he is, Bulger took it like a man in the best Golden Gloves tradition, smiled and completed his film.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Simpsons Exclusive: Saxophonist Sonny Rollins Gets Tupac Treatment

The Simpsons Exclusive: Saxophonist Sonny Rollins Gets Tupac Treatment
The Simpsons‘ has tapped Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins to play himself in an episode of the Fox animated comedy, TVLine has learned exclusively.

Related | An Animation Domination Halloween Treat for You!

In a spring episode titled “Whiskey Business,” Rollins appears as a hologram to Lisa when she takes exception to a “Tupac-at-Cochella”-style hologram of blues icon Bleeding Gums Murphy and starts a letter writing campaign to stop this holographic exploitation.

Related | Simpsons Boss on Carell’s Violent Tendencies, Cumberbatch’s Eagerness and ‘Bart’s Annie Hall’

Rollins is a Grammy-winning jazz tenor saxophonist who has played with greats like Miles Davis,
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SXSW '12 Review: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Is A Rollicking, Dangerous & Ultimately Transcendent Ride With Cream Drummer Ginger Baker

This year’s SXSW had a few strong themes running throughout its selections, and in the documentary category, this was seen in the numerous films about '70s rock icons such as “Paul Williams: Still Alive,” “Marley,” the preview of “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” and heck, even “Bad Brains: A Band in DC” fits into this category. But the Documentary Feature winning film, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” about Cream drummer Ginger Baker, certainly earned its award, as it blows those other (quite remarkable) films out of the water, starting with one vicious rap to the nose.

The film’s title is a literal one, taken directly from the sign at the gate of Ginger Baker’s South African compound. It also refers to the opening sequence of the film -- the camera obscured, with Baker shouting “I don’t want those fucking people in my film!” before lashing
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Allman Brothers’ Jaimoe on His Jasssz Band

Allman Brothers’ Jaimoe on His Jasssz Band
Carl Vernlund Jaimoe (center) and the Jasssz Band.

The last year saw a flood of solo releases by members of the Allman Brothers band. The first three, by Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks’ Tedeschi Trucks Band, were all nominated for the Best Blues Album Grammy Award. But the fourth and final release may be the best of all: “Renaissance Man” by founding Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe and his Jasssz Band.

Released December 17th by lil’Johnieboy Records, “Renaissance Man” is a laid-back delight.
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

A Super Group for Jazz Lovers

From left, Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott.

Many super groups are less than the sum of their super parts. But vibraphonist Stefon Harris, 38, trumpeter Christian Scott, 28, and tenor saxophonist Dávid Sanchez, 42, are looking to beat the odds with their collaborative project, “Ninety Miles,” released this week on Concord Picante.

Together, the three musicians — all bandleaders in their own right, all labelmates as well — journeyed to Havana, Cuba (hence the album’s title) to work and record with Cuban
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

August 2011 Criterion Collection Titles Announced

It’s so strange, writing this so long after the announcement yesterday. In today’s internet world of instant information, and twenty four second news cycles, yesterday’s August 2011 Criterion Collection new releases may as well have happened last week, or last month. I’m sure that the page views for this post will be markedly smaller than the usual, as I have tried consistently to have the new release post up within minutes of the pages going live on Criterion’s website. I know this all sounds like inside baseball stuff, but it’s on my mind, and darn it, this is my website.

I had a whole, several paragraph long, write up of the August titles, but since I’m finding myself writing this at 10pm on Tuesday evening, I think it’s better if I just scrap that whole thing and start over. I was going on
See full article at CriterionCast »

Jazz Singer Abbey Lincoln Died at Home

Jazz singer Abbey Lincoln has died at her New York home, aged 80. The star passed away at her Manhattan property on Saturday, August 14, her brother David Wooldridge confirms to The New York Times.

Born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago in 1930, she released her debut album, "Abbey Lincoln's Affair - A Story of a Girl in Love", in 1956. Largely inspired by Billie Holiday, Lincoln went on to release more than 20 albums throughout her six-decade long career.

She also branched out into movies, starring opposite Sidney Poitier in 1968's "For Love of Ivy" and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the film. Lincoln married jazz musician Max Roach in 1962, but they divorced in 1970.

She is survived by her brothers David and Kenneth Wooldridge and her sister, Juanita Baker.
See full article at Aceshowbiz »

Abbey Lincoln obituary

Jazz singer, actor and civil rights activist strongly influenced by Billie Holiday

If Abbey Lincoln was overwhelmed by the responsibility of being proclaimed "the last of the jazz singers", she never let it show. As her great contemporaries and principal influences among the classic female jazz vocalists fell away – with Billie Holiday the first to go, in 1959, and Betty Carter the last, in 1998 – Lincoln steadfastly maintained her dignified, almost solemn, focus; her tart, deftly timed Holiday-like inflections, and her commitment to songs that dug deeper into life's meanings than the usual lost-love exhalations.

And, like Ella Fitzgerald, who all her life took to a stage as if she were surprised to find anyone had come to see her, Lincoln became the opposite of a celebrated jazz diva. In some of her London performances during the 1990s, she would sit quietly beside the piano, tugging at her clothes, like someone who
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Jack Parnell obituary

Drummer, bandleader and musical director of popular TV shows

Tall, lithe, impeccably turned out, the drummer Jack Parnell, who has died aged 87, always carried the aura of the matinee idol he had once been. Like the American drummer Gene Krupa, a star player with Benny Goodman's band, the personable Parnell was often mobbed at the stage door after a Ted Heath concert in the 1950s. An outstanding big band drummer himself, Parnell liked to vocalise in the style of Phil Harris and later became a busy bandleader before branching out as a conductor and musical director for popular television shows. In his latter years, he returned to the jazz circuit and showed his mettle with visiting Us stars such as cornettist Ruby Braff and as leader of his own quartet.

Parnell was a Londoner, born in Paddington and raised in Wembley, the only son of vaudevillians and the grandson of a celebrated ventriloquist,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Music Break – “Freedom Day” (Max Roach Composes; Abbey Lincoln Sings)

Awesome, awesome stuff! I own the entire album from which this track, Freedom Day, comes -1960’s We Insist! – Freedom Now, featuring Abbey Lincoln on vocals, over music composed by her then husband, jazz legend, Max Roach and lyricist Oscar Brown. It’s a must-have for any lovers of jazz music and revolution . Pick up a copy Here if you don’t already own it (h/t Aiac):
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Dog Ears Music: Volume Ninety-Nine

Cepia Cepia is the electro-ambient brainchild of Minneapolis-based bassist/songwriter and sound engineer Huntley Miller. Founded in the early aughts, Cepia = a marriage of music, rhythmic-math, and specter-effect emotion. Collaborations include Dosh, Suki Takahashi, and J.T. Bates. With nearly a score of remixes and CDs to collect, get lost in "Pearl," from the 2006 release Pearl. Buy: Genre: Electronic Artist: Cepia Song: Pearl Album: Pearl Hank Mobley Tenor sax master Hank Mobley was born in 1930 in southern Georgia and raised in northern New Jersey. Early professional landmarks include performances with legendary drummer Max Roach and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Mobley was in at the founding of the Jazz Messengers and went on to lead a variety of hard-bop units and cut over two dozen albums. Collaborations include Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Duke Jordan, Paul Chambers, Wynton Kelly, Freddie Hubbard, and Rudy Van Gelder. Mobley passed in 1986....
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