BLACK POWER & JAZZ: A Film Series

Black Power & Jazz: A Film Series

Wednesdays, February 5-26, 2020

6:30-9pm

MoAD presents a four-week film series in conjunction with Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaitea photographic exhibition focussing on how the Black Pride movement manifested in fashion and in jazz & soul music. Dr. Tanisha C. Ford writes in the catalogue, “Jazz set the rhythm for all of Brathwaites’s work… he is a son of the modern Jazz age.” The Black Power & Jazz film series complements the exhibition with works on representative and still influential icons of the era — from the widely celebrated performer Abbey Lincoln to the community-based California Jazz musician Horace Tapscott — as well as touching on the era’s “L.A. Rebellion” independent film movement.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

HORACE TAPSCOTT: MUSICAL GRIOT (Barbara McCullough, 2017, 72 minutes). A Bay Area premiere

HORACE TAPSCOTT MUSICAL GRIOT is a “poetic meditation on the strength of African American music and activism embodied in the history of Los Angeles through the life of musician, composer and community activist, Horace Tapscott (1934-1999)”.  During the Watts Rebellion of 1965, LAPD stopped his performances, stating that his music incited people to riot.  He was blacklisted in the 1960’s and 70’s because of his affiliation with political groups active during those times. The film allows Mr. Tapscott to reveal his story as a griot would in a West African society who preserves the knowledge, legacy and oral history of his culture.  Filmmaker Barbara McCullough will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.

A native of New Orleans, Barbara McCullough spent most of her life in the Los Angeles area.  She attended UCLA and was part of a group of filmmakers who were termed, “The LA Rebellion”. Her goal is to reveal untold stories reflective of African American life. Other film and video projects include: “Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification”, “Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflection on Ritual Space”, “Fragments”, and “The World Saxophone Quartet”. These projects have been screened in galleries and museums nationally and internationally. Her film, “HORACE TAPSCOTT: MUSICAL GRIOT” is a documentary on musical genius, community activist and mentor to generations of accomplished jazz musicians, the late Horace Tapscott. Through his story, the history of jazz in Los Angeles is told. Ms. McCullough worked in the special visual effects industry for over 20 years and was past chair of the visual effects department at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

PASSING THROUGH (Larry Clark, 1977, 115 minutes)

This narrative feature film shot in Los Angeles tells the story of a jazz musician who struggles against music industry pressure in order to remain authentic with his art. Eddie Warmack, an African American jazz musician, is released from prison for the killing of a white gangster.  Not willing to play for the mobsters who control the music industry, including clubs and recording studios, Warmack searches for his mentor and grandfather, the legendary jazz musician Poppa Harris.  Director Larry Clark theorizes that jazz is one of the purest expressions of African American culture, embodying the struggles of generations of Blacks going back to slavery times, but now hijacked by a white culture that brutally exploits jazz musicians for profit. Filmmaker Larry Clark will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.

Larry Clark is a filmmaker and former professor of film at San Francisco State University. Born in Ohio (where he was president of the Black Student Union at Miami University), he later drove to Los Angeles to enroll in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. With musical roots (his uncle was renowned jazz pianist Sonny Clark; his mailman father played sax and taught Latin dance, and his housekeeper mother sang opera), it’s fitting that his first feature, Passing Through (1977), is often cited as one of the best jazz films ever made. Featuring Horace Tapscott and his Pan-Afrikan People’s Jazz Arkestra and co-written by actor Ted Lange, it united a wide range of black artists. It had its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Filmex and went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

ABBEY LINCOLN IS (Paul Raoux, 52 minutes, 1998) Bay Area Premiere

(Image: Kwame Brathwaite, b. 1938, Abbey Lincoln singing at an AJASS event, Harlem, ca. 1964. Archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Phillip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles)

For more than 50 years, jazz singer, songwriter and movie actress, Abbey Lincoln lived her life in a way that demanded respect –  as an artist and as a Black woman.  In this rare portrait, she discusses her career, her relationships with other musicians such as former husband/collaborator Max Roach and Miriam Makeba and how she integrated art and activism   The documentary features clips from live musical performances and from her film appearances. Gallerist and cultural critic Ashara Ekundayo will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.

Ashara Ekundayo is a Detroit-born, Oakland-based independent curator, artist, creative industries entrepreneur and organizer working internationally across cultural, spiritual, civic, and social innovation spaces.  Through her company AECreative Consulting Partners and her projects Omi Arts Project + Space and Ashara Ekundayo Gallery, she places artists and cultural production as essential in equitable design practices, real estate development, and movement-building. Additionally, her worldview offers an Afrofuturist, intersectional framework to the public sector that centers the lives, traditions and expertise of Black womxn of the African Diaspora.  She is the author of the forthcoming book, “Artist As First Responder.” Ashara.io

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A special screening to be announced soon!

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non- profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

Categories:  Public Programs