Tag: Amiri Baraka

Angela Bassett and Band of Vices Gallery Curate Afro-Surrealist Art Show by Chelle Barbour

Angela Bassett (Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

The ‘Black Panther’ star co-curates a new exhibition at Band of Vices gallery featuring Afro-Surrealist collages by artist Chelle Barbour.

by Jordan Riefe via hollywoodreporter.com

Artist Chelle Barbour’s first solo show, You Is Pretty!, at Band of Vices gallery in the West Adams district of L.A. through Oct. 13, is a photo montage series examining portrayals of African-American women in media. And if you look closely at the curator credits, one very famous name jumps out: Angela Bassett.

Longtime friend and fan of gallerist Terrell Tilford, Bassett, who serves as co-curator of Barbour’s show, frequented his gallery throughout the aughts when it was called Tilford Art Group. After closing in 2010, he rebranded as Band of Vices in 2015 and reached out to Bassett about playing a larger part. “I’ve been a lover of art for many, many years, so it was just a new venture for me. And when he introduced me to Chelle’s work, I was excited about it as well, about this young artist that I heretofore wasn’t familiar with but found her work to be really strong and really striking in many ways,” Bassett explains.

Barbour’s practice includes painting, digital video, photography, writing and curating. She collaborated on projects with Black Lives Matter at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2016; and has participated in a number of group shows. But to have Bassett play a part in her first solo show is just too much, she quips.

artwork by Chelle Barbour

“When I saw her name as a curator, I was like, ‘What?!?” Barbour explains. “I have been a fan of hers for years. I’m pleased that she likes the work, that she’s seen it. Her endorsement just leaves me speechless.”

With You Is Pretty!, Barbour poses questions about agency and beauty by layering visual metaphors over imagery of black women to evoke what writer and essayist Amiri Baraka called Afro-Surrealism. The women in her collages are alluring and confident, the opposite of more common depictions emphasizing a lack of economic value, or worse, irrelevance. By incorporating motifs like butterflies, flower petals and industrial machinery, she conjures archetypes of strength and potential.

“Chelle’s work explores that notion of the other or the alien or the marginalization, but she uses the black woman as her muse,” offers Bassett. “When I, as an artist, look out into the world, I find those voices, whether it be art or music or narration, that celebrate our beauty, our being different, as a strength, as something positive.”

Read more: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/angela-bassett-curating-afro-surrealist-art-show-celebrating-60th-birthday-a-list-friends-1140376

Lost John Coltrane Recording From 1963 Will Be Released at Last

John Coltrane Credit: Chuck Stewart

If you heard the John Coltrane Quartet live in the early-to-mid-1960s, you were at risk of having your entire understanding of performance rewired. This was a ground-shaking band, an almost physical being, bearing a promise that seemed to reach far beyond music.

The quartet’s relationship to the studio, however, was something different. In the years leading up to “A Love Supreme,” his explosive 1965 magnum opus, Coltrane produced eight albums for Impulse! Records featuring the members of his so-called classic quartet — the bassist Jimmy Garrison, the drummer Elvin Jones and the pianist McCoy Tyner — but only two of those, “Coltrane” and “Crescent,” were earnest studio efforts aimed at distilling the band’s live ethic.

But now that story needs a major footnote.

On Friday, Impulse! will announce the June 29 release of “Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album,”full set of material recorded by the quartet on a single day in March 1963, then eventually stashed away and lost. The family of Coltrane’s first wife, Juanita Naima Coltrane, recently discovered his personal copy of the recordings, which she had saved, and brought it to the label’s attention.

There are seven tunes on this collection, a well-hewed mix that clearly suggests Coltrane had his sights on creating a full album that day. From the sound of it, this would have been an important one.

“Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album” is due on Impulse! on June 29. Credit:

“In 1963, all these musicians are reaching some of the heights of their musical powers,” said the saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son, who helped prepare “Both Directions at Once” for release. “On this record, you do get a sense of John with one foot in the past and one foot headed toward his future.”

That’s true — though as Mr. Coltrane was careful to point out, his father always lived in a state of transition. The poet and critic Amiri Baraka wrote in 1963 that Coltrane’s career was one of simultaneous “changes, resolutions and transmutations.” As the public came to depend on the grounding wisdom of his saxophone sound in the late 1950s and ’60s, Coltrane kept shifting and expanding it.

By the time he signed with Impulse! in 1961, he had mostly left behind the swift harmonic movement of his earlier work. He was resolutely exploring other elements: drones influenced by North African and Indian music; unbounded and jagged melodic phrasing. One of Coltrane’s earliest biographers, C.O. Simpkins, de

But Coltrane had a funny problem: He was also quite commercially successful, particularly for an improvising musician of such rigor. He had arrived at Impulse! shortly after scoring a megahit with “My Favorite Things,” and the producer Bob Thiele felt obligated to provide a stream of concept-driven and consumer-friendly projects. The other albums he made in 1963 with Coltrane were “Ballads,” “Duke Ellington and John Coltrane” and “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.”

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NYC: A Screening Series Not to Be Missed Kicks Off Today! “Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986”

Tell It Like It Is

Kicking off today, Friday, February 6, 2015, is a must-attend series, presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center (NYC), titled “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986” – from the opener, Kathleen Collins‘ stately 1982 feature “Losing Ground” (read my review of the film here); to Ayoka Chenzira‘s humorous, though inciting short “black hair” travelogue, “Hair Piece A Film for Nappy-Headed People;” Camille Billops‘ devastating documentary on a young black woman’s struggles to come to terms with her physically abusive father (dead at the time of the making of the film) as well as a mother, abused herself, unable to protect her children in 1982’s “Suzanne Suzanne,” and more.

A series programmed by Michelle Materre and Film Society of Lincoln Center Programmer at Large Jake Perlin, co-presented by Creatively Speaking, other titles included in the program, which some of you would be familiar with, include Bill Gunn‘s seminal “Ganja & Hess” (a film that Spike Lee *reinterpreted* in his latest work, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus”); William Greaves’ instructive “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm;” another Bill Gunn film, “Personal Problems” (which came after “Ganja”), the work of cinéma-vérité, capturing a middle class black family in crisis; St Clair Bourne’s intimate documentary capturing Amiri Baraka‘s trial and conviction for “resisting arrest” despite allegations of police harassment, in “In Motion: Amiri Baraka;” and much, much, much more.

Of course, given the period and city covered, the early work of Spike Lee is well represented, with “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” and “She’s Gotta Have It,” both scheduled to screen.

Tickets for this must-attend series of rare screenings can be purchased online here.

It’s quite exhaustive, so I strongly encourage you to take full advantage, because you may never get another opportunity quite like this again, or anytime soon, after this run ends. Check out the full lineup here.

In the meantime, here’s a just-released trailer for the series:

article by Tambay A.Benson via blogs.indiewire.com

Ras Baraka Declares Victory in Newark’s Mayoral Race

Ras Baraka
Newark, NJ Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka (AP Photo)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Ras Baraka, son of late poet and activist Amiri Baraka, declared victory Tuesday in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker as mayor of the state’s largest city.  Baraka, who served on Newark’s City Council, was a staunch critic of Booker, who stepped down last year to run for the Senate. He declared victory with nearly all districts counted and with a 54 percent to 46 percent lead over former State Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries.

Baraka inherits a fiscal crisis that has left Newark in danger of being subject to state monitoring.  His supporters held a raucous celebration at a downtown hotel after he announced his victory.

Speaking to the crowd, Baraka wished his mother a happy Mother’s Day and said he knew his father, who died in January, was “in the room tonight.” He urged the crowd to “be the mayor” and work for positive change, a reference to one of his campaign slogans, “When I become mayor, we become mayor.”

“We have a great city, an international city,” he said. “Watch out, America, here comes Newark!”

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Library of Congress Acquires Papers of Legendary Jazz Drummer Max Roach

From Max Roach’s archive: a contract for a 1956 club date; an undated photo of Roach, at right, with Art Blakey, center; a 1964 letter from Maya Angelou. Lexey Swall for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Max Roach, the great drummer and bandleader and paradigm-shifter of jazz, though he disliked that word, never finished an autobiography.  That’s a shame. He died in 2007 at 83, and his career spans the beginning of bebop, the intersection of jazz with the civil rights movement, free improvisation, and jazz’s current state of cross-disciplinary experiments and multimedia performances. Inasmuch as jazz is about change and resistance, he embodied those qualities: He fought anything that would contain or reduce him as an artist and a human being. He would have been well served by his own narrative, set in one voice.

Max RoachBut Roach was archivally minded, and, when he died, he left 400 linear feet of his life and actions to be read: scores and lead sheets, photographs, contracts, itineraries, correspondence, reel tapes and cassettes and drafts of an unfinished autobiography, written with the help of Amiri Baraka. On Monday, the Library of Congress will announce that it has acquired the archive from Mr. Roach’s family and that it will be made available to researchers.

“What I think he would hope people would see,” said the violist Maxine Roach, his daughter from his first marriage, “is that there was a lot about his life that was difficult, you know? The struggles. A lot about economics, and jazz as a word that we didn’t define ourselves.” (Roach felt that it was a pejorative term; he preferred to call it African-American music.)  “But aside from all of that,” she continued, “I hope that people see his excellence and his mastery of his skill, which helped him rise in this country that’s been so hard on black men especially, and how he went through it and what price he paid.”

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R.I.P. Poet and Activist Amiri Baraka

Portrait of American writer Amiri Baraka, USA, 17th March 2013. (Photo by Mick Gold/Redferns)
Portrait of American writer Amiri Baraka, USA, 17th March 2013. (Photo by Mick Gold/Redferns)

Amiri Baraka, the militant man of letters and tireless agitator whose blues-based, fist-shaking poems, plays and criticism made him a provocative and groundbreaking force in American culture, has died. He was 79.  His booking agent, Celeste Bateman, told The Associated Press that Baraka, who had been hospitalized since last month, died Thursday at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Perhaps no writer of the 1960s and ’70s was more radical or polarizing than Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), and no one did more to extend the political debates of the civil rights era to the world of the arts. He inspired at least one generation of poets, playwrights and musicians, and his immersion in spoken word traditions and raw street language anticipated rap, hip-hop and slam poetry. The FBI feared him to the point of flattery, identifying Baraka as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the Pan-African movement in the United States.”

Baraka transformed from the rare black to join the Beat caravan of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac to leader of the Black Arts Movement, an ally of the Black Power movement that rejected the liberal optimism of the early ’60s and intensified a divide over how and whether the black artist should take on social issues. Scorning art for art’s sake and the pursuit of black-white unity, Barak was part of a philosophy that called for the teaching of black art and history and producing works that bluntly called for revolution.

“We want ‘poems that kill,’” Baraka wrote in his landmark “Black Art,” a manifesto published in 1965, the year he helped found the Black Arts Movement. “Assassin poems. Poems that shoot guns/Poems that wrestle cops into alleys/and take their weapons leaving them dead/with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland.”

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