Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

01/12/2016

Reel Music Film Festival 2016 begins on Friday

Three weeks of music-documentary bliss courtesy of the Northwest Film Center. / Pictured: Mavis Staples from the film Mavis!

Once again OMN is happy to be a media sponsor!

fri, jan 15, 2016
at 7 pm
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THE BIG BEAT: FATS DOMINO AND THE BIRTH OF ROCK AND ROLL
DIRECTOR: JOE LAURO
US, 2015

From New Orleans to Blueberry Hill, the teaming of Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. and Dave Bartholomew is remembered as a legendary partnership that changed the course of mid-century American music. After meeting at a Ninth Ward dive called The Hideaway, the two became songwriting partners. Under the banner of Imperial Records (where Bartholomew served as producer, arranger, and bandleader), they sold over 60 million records between 1949-62—a time when segregation and the civil rights movement dominated the cultural consciousness. Director and archivist Joe Lauro uses footage unearthed in the French National Archives to fashion a compelling portrait of this remarkable collaboration, charting the influence of New Orleans R&B upon the nascent genre of rock and roll, and featuring candid interviews with its still-vibrant subjects. (90 mins.) 

fri, jan 15, 2016
at 9:15 pm
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ROXY: THE MOVIE
DIRECTOR: FRANK ZAPPA
1973/2015

 

Filmed over three nights in December 1973 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, ROXY: THE MOVIE perfectly encapsulates the qualities that made Frank Zappa such a revolutionary musical pioneer. Thanks to advances in digital technology, this never-before-released film—which sat in the Zappa vaults for decades because its sound didn’t meet Zappa’s technical standards—is finally being shared with music lovers around the world. ROXY features the unparalleled composer and guitarist leading one of the most iconic iterations of his backing band the Mothers (including keyboardist George Duke, trombonist Bruce Fowler, flutist Napoleon Murphy Brock, bassist Tom Fowler, drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson, and percussionist Ruth Underwood) through some of Zappa’s most challenging and rewarding music. A unique big screen treat. (95 mins.) 

Sponsored by KBOO. 

sat, jan 16, 2016
at 4:30 pm
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CONCERTO: A BEETHOVEN JOURNEY
DIRECTOR: PHIL GRABSKY
UK, 2015

 

Over the course of four years, director Phil Grabsky followed celebrated Norwegian concert pianist Leif Ove Andsnes’ attempt to understand and interpret one of the greatest sets of music ever written for piano: Ludwig van Beethoven’s five piano concertos. However, CONCERTO is more than a document of a famous musician’s world tour; it is also an exploration of the deep relationship that emerges between composer and pianist. As Andsnes delves into the life and passion of Ludwig van Beethoven and his work, he begins to invoke the composer’s spirit in a way never before seen. Gransky’s film movingly chronicles Andsnes’ devotion to his passion project and bears cinematic witness to what is increasingly being regarded as one of the greatest interpretations of these five timeless pieces of music. (92 mins.) 

Sponsored by All Classical Portland. 

sat, jan 16, 2016
at 7 pm
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THE AMAZING NINA SIMONE
DIRECTOR: JEFF LIEBERMAN
US, 2015

 

Nina Simone (1933-2003) defied labels—musical, sexual, or political—and today enjoys a popularity and recognition never realized in her lifetime. Lieberman’s extensively researched film draws upon interviews with dozens of friends, family members, band members, lovers, and fellow activists, who not only recall her astounding musicianship and genius, but her fearless demand for respect--whether from segregationists, record companies, or audiences. Director Lieberman follows Simone through the ups and downs of her career: growing up in a small, segregated town, becoming a teen classical piano prodigy, gaining experience as a bar singer, rising to stardom in the late 1950s with “I Loves You, Porgy,” and, finally, emerging as a fiery activist through songs such as “Mississippi Goddam”--all while struggling with a complicated bisexual love life and battling bipolar disorder. Simone’s story, like her music, is startlingly unique. (118 mins.) 

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sat, jan 16, 2016
at 9:30 pm
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THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
DIRECTOR: DON HARDY
US, 2015

 

The avant-garde music and multimedia collective known as The Residents has never revealed the identity of its members, who always appear in costume in extravagant live musical performances and filmed projects. Don Hardy’s witty film tells the story of the group’s start in rural Louisiana, its artistic awakening in late-‘60s San Francisco, and follows its members to the present day, where they are still actively creating and performing. The film showcases a trove of archival materials alongside contemporary performances and interviews with the band’s longtime “business managers,” the Cryptic Corporation, and features appearances by a wide variety of creative minds—including Penn Jillette, Jerry Harrison, Les Claypool of Primus, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening and members of Neurosis, Henry Cow and Ween—all of whom were drawn to the group’s uncompromising focus on creative control over conventional commercial success. (87 mins.) 

Sponsored by KBOO. 

sun, jan 17, 2016
at 5 pm
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KORLA
DIRECTOR: JOHN TURNER
US, 2015

 

With his sparking jeweled turban, organist Korla Pandit (1921-1998) was an alluring enigma, television pioneer, and the godfather of exotica music. Though he never spoke a word on any of the 900 episodes of his groundbreaking 1950s TV program, Korla nevertheless captured the hearts of countless Los Angeles housewives with his soulful, hypnotic gaze and theatrical performances, which expertly showcased both popular tunes and East Indian compositions on the newly developed Hammond B3 organ. In the ‘90s he resurfaced as a cult figure with tiki/lounge music aficionados and was immortalized in the 1994 film ED WOOD. Korla lived up to his reputation as a “man of mystery” by taking an amazing secret with him to his grave—a secret which the film KORLA finally reveals. Among Korla’s musical admirers are Carlos Santana, Booker T. Jones and Steven Halpern, all of whom are interviewed in the film. (78 mins.) 

Sponsored by XRAY.FM. 

sun, jan 17, 2016
at 7 pm
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BILL EVANS, TIME REMEMBERED FOLLOWED BY RHYTHM AND ROMANCE
DIRECTOR: BRUCE SPIEGEL
US, 2015

 

In the pantheon of great jazz pianists, few remain as influential as Bill Evans. His arrival in the late 1950s heralded a new lyricism rooted in the romantic composers of the 19th century, and marked the birth of a groundbreaking impressionist harmonic framework that riveted musicians and listeners alike. While many post-bebop pianists were consumed with how fast they could play, Evans showed the world how slow he could play—and audiences loved him for it. In 1958, Evans joined the Miles Davis sextet, which would go on to produce some of the most celebrated and lasting music of the twentieth century. In the early 1960s Evans teamed up with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian to form the legendary Bill Evans Trio, a group that would redefine the concept of the jazz trio. Through interviews with many of Evans’ peers and collaborators, Spiegel traces a career and life full of brilliance, tragedy, revolutionary innovation, and lasting cultural impact. (84 mins.) 

FOLLOWED BY 

CHUCK ISRAELS: RHYTHM AND ROMANCE

US 2015 

DIRECTOR: ELIJAH HASAN 

 

Portland filmmaker Elijah Hasan’s portrait of acclaimed jazz bassist Israels from his days playing with Bill Evans to current collaboration in Portland today.(37 mins.) 

Sponsored by Portland Jazz Festival. 


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thu, jan 21, 2016
at 7 pm

 
NW MUSIC VIDEOS OPEN SCREENING
DIRECTOR: VARIOUS
US

 

As part of this month’s NORTHWEST TRACKING, the Film Center’s ongoing showcase of work by regional filmmakers, we invite musicians and filmmakers to share recent music videos of any style or genre. If you have a new work you’d like to see on the big screen contact Ben Popp (ben@nwfilm.org) by January 15. Along with the surprise submissions, we’ve invited some great new work from other Northwest filmmakers, so count on sharing a lively, eclectic evening of collaborations by filmmakers and musicians. Admission is free; screening takes palce at the Skype Live Studio, 1210 SW 6th Avenue. Sponsored by KINK.fm. 

fri, jan 22, 2016
at 7 pm
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LEE SCRATCH PERRY: VISIONS OF PARADISE
DIRECTOR: VOLKER SCHANDER
GERMANY, 2015

 

A visionary record producer and pioneer in both reggae and dub music, Lee Scratch Perry’s life has been an ongoing quest for spiritual liberation through sound. Schander followed Lee Perry for 15 years to fashion this intimate “fairytale documentary,” an almost impossible-to-believe portrait of “The Prophet” of the international Rastafari movement, one of the icons of the Black Power movement, and arguably the inventor of Jamaican music as we know it. From Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio in Kingston, where he recorded Bob Marley and The Wailers, to his home today in the Swiss Alps, VISIONS OF PARADISE is a comprehensive guide for how to change the world through music—one positive “vibration” at a time. (100 mins.) 

Sponsored by KBOO. 

fri, jan 22, 2016
at 9:15 pm
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WE ARE TWISTED F***KING SISTER
DIRECTOR: ANDREW HORN
US, 2015

 

When Twisted Sister got their big break in 1983, they became one of the biggest glam rock bands of the 1980s, drawing sell-out crowds to their live shows and defining early MTV through their outlandish music videos. But the band that killed disco was no overnight success. WE ARE TWISTED F***ING SISTER recounts the wickedly appealing and never-before-told story of the ten grueling years leading up to Twisted Sister’s legendary break, as directly recalled by the band, their managers and their biggest fans. “Very, very, very entertaining. Engrossing. . . often hilarious.”—The Hollywood Reporter. (136 mins.) 

Sponsored by KINK.fm. 



sat, jan 23, 2016
at 3 pm
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SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION
DIRECTOR: ETHAN HAWKE
US, 2014

 

This intimate portrait of classical pianist, composer, author, teacher, and sage Seymour Bernstein offers a wise and charismatic reflection on art and life. The question “why make art?” winds its way through conversations with Bernstein’s accomplished friends, including art critic Michael Kimmelman and religious scholar Andrew Harvey. As Bernstein reflects on the careers of such pianists as Glenn Gould and Clifford Curzon (seen in archival footage), his deep love and knowledge of piano music proves infectious. “Calling to mind MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, his film is full of urbane conversation and infused with the sophisticated rhythms of New York City. Whether aficionados or newcomers to the world of classical music, viewers will find much to gain from this introduction to Seymour.”—Toronto Film Festival. (81 mins.) 

Sponsored by All Classical Portland. 

sat, jan 23, 2016
at 7 pm
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THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA
DIRECTOR: DZIGA VERTOV
USSR, 1929

 

We welcome Los Angeles composer and bassist Tom Peters for a live performance of his score for Vertov’s classic city symphony. Demonstrating his famed “kino-eye” theory, which endows the movie camera with the flexibility of the human eye, Vertov’s groundbreaking film retains the infectious exuberance that has made it an enduring classic. Though the film is part documentary—a portrait of a city and its inhabitants and a veiled political rumination on the state of the Soviet Union—it is also a witty compendium of extravagant camera techniques and editing tricks, forever commenting on itself and the perspective of the cinema audience. Appropriately, at the end of the film the “man with the movie camera” comes out from behind the lens to take a well-deserved bow. Tom Peters is a 2014 Grammy ® Award nominee in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category for the recording “Cage: The Ten Thousand Things.” Special thanks to Walker. (84 mins.) 

Sponsored by All Classical Portland. 

sun, jan 24, 2016
at 7 pm
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SONS OF THE WIND
DIRECTOR: BRUNO LE JEAN
FRANCE, 2012

 

Director Bruno Le Jean set out to make a musical documentary about “gypsy jazz,” but ended up with a unique portrait of four guitar virtuosos who share common bonds of humor, fraternity, history, and impressive musical chops. Forged by the warm friendship between master musicians Angelo Debarre, Tchavolo Schmitt, Ninine Garcia, and Moreno, SONS OF THE WIND offers a peek into the musicians’ extended families and the ways in which their nomadic gypsy heritage is coming to an end. Heirs to a musical tradition made famous by the legendary Django Reinhart, these men learned techniques that were handed down through their families’ oral traditions, amid the camps and caravans where they were born to live and breathe music. “The gypsy-jazz guitar is the star of a valentine to the Romani way of life.”—The Hollywood Reporter. (90 mins.) 

tue, jan 26, 2016
at 7 pm
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LANDFILL HARMONIC
DIRECTOR: BRAD ALLGOOD, GRAHAM TOWNSLEY
US, 2014

 

A testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit, LANDFILL HARMONIC follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is suddenly catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the band must learn to navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. (84 mins.) 

Sponsored by KBOO. 

wed, jan 27, 2016
at 7 pm
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JACO
DIRECTOR: STEPHEN KIJAK, PAUL MARCHAND
US, 2015

In 1976, Jaco Pastorius’ (1951-1987) melodic “singing” bass style redefined the role of the bass in modern jazz and rock music. Almost overnight, critics hailed him as “the future of modern music,” alongside popular visionaries such as David Bowie, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, and Herbie Hancock. Produced by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, JACO examines the famous bassist’s life and music using insights from an array of artists including Flea, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins, Carlos Santana and others, as well as Jaco’s family and friends. (110 mins.) 

Sponsored by Portland Jazz Festival.

thu, jan 28, 2016
at 7 pm
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SAM LAY IN BLUESLAND
DIRECTOR: JOHN ANDERSON
US, 2015

The man some call “the greatest drummer of all time” is mostly recognized for his signature double-shuffle beat—but is almost as famous for the capes, crowns, canes and cowbells that are the stuff of his legend. Sam Lay has played a key role in the evolution of blues music for almost 60 years; he was on drums when Bob Dylan went electric at Newport, was a founding member of the groundbreaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and spent decades in the studio and on the road with blues greats such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter and James Cotton. And, at 80 years old, Lay is still an active part of the Chicago blues scene. Anderson tells this remarkable story through Lay’s own words, music, and home movies, and features interviews with past bandmates including Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and James Cotton. (90 mins.)

fri, jan 29, 2016
at 7 pm
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THE GLAMOUR & THE SQUALOR
DIRECTOR: MARZ EVANS
US, 2015

 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame disc jockey Marco Collins became a radio star in the 1990s, serving as the inaugural music director at Seattle’s commercial alternative station, 107.7 The End, and helping to launch world-renowned acts like Nirvana and Beck. Identifying with punk rock in his teens, he found his way to radio just as the grunge movement was beginning to emerge. Numerous musicians, including Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), credit him for helping launch their bands into the mainstream consciousness and establish Seattle as a world music center. Gay at a time when the music scene wasn’t quite as accepting as it is today, Collins plunged from his golden era on radio into a less-glamorous world of odd jobs and stints in rehab. In Evans’ stirring portrait, he emerges bloodied but unbowed, a true Northwest music hero. (82 mins.) 

Sponsored by XRAY.FM. 

fri, jan 29, 2016
at 9 pm
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MAVIS!
DIRECTOR: JESSICA EDWARDS
US, 2015

 

At age 75, soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staples Singers, are making the most vital music of her career. Featuring powerful live performances and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, and more, MAVIS! reveals the struggles, successes, and intimate stories of her journey. Through 60 years of performing across musical genres and through monumental societal shifts, Mavis has never forgotten the importance of family and her message of love and equality. (85 mins.) 

sat, jan 30, 2016
at 5 pm
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EVERYBODY'S CAGE
DIRECTOR: SANDRA TROSTEL
GERMANY, 2015

 

When John Cage (1912-1992), one of the most influential composers of New York’s 20th century avant-garde, was asked to summarize himself in one sentence, he said humorously: “Get out of whatever cage you‘re in.” Cage systematically scrutinized the underlying principles of the arrangements in music and society, developing musical forms free of hierarchy, judgmental structures, and the individual taste of the composer. EVERYBODY’S CAGE imagines a conversation with Cage, connecting his musical work with his philosophical thoughts, and considers his principles in the context of the present day. Pianist and composer Francesco Tristano and a small team interpret Cage’s VARIATIONS IV—a score without notes--and perform it in the public environment of New York City, inviting an expedition to a place of tranquility in one of the world´s busiest cities. “If, as the Buddhists say, ‘the mind is a restless monkey,’ EVERYBODY’S CAGE is an invitation to drink some water and listen to the sounds of the jungle.”—Sandra Trostel. (81 mins.) 

Sponsored by XRAY.FM. 

sat, jan 30, 2016
at 7 pm
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ORION: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
DIRECTOR: JEANIE FINLAY
UK, 2015

 

As a teenager in 1960s Alabama, Jimmy Ellis’ wonderful singing voice was unlike any other... except, that is, for one Elvis Presley. Hampered by his over-resemblance to the King, Jimmy’s own singing career floundered. Then, in 1979, he found fame as a masked singer called “Orion,” a persona deliberately evolved to create intrigue in the wake of Presley’s untimely death. Over the next years he played to legions of grieving Elvis fans and developed his own fanatical fan base, many of whom remained in willful denial about the true identity of their masked idol. With his contract stipulating that he never remove his disguise in public, Ellis’ success came at a high price for a singer still hoping to succeed on his own terms. Finlay’s nuanced portrait of Ellis serves as a riveting cautionary tale of the music industry, and a memorable exploration of fame and identity. (89 mins.) 

Sponsored by KINK.fm. 

sun, jan 31, 2016
at 7 pm
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SYL JOHNSON: ANY WAY THE WIND BLOWS
DIRECTOR: ROB HATCH-MILLER
US, 2015

 

Aside from a couple of minor hits, Chicago soul singer Syl Johnson retired from the music industry in the 1980s having never quite having achieved the success he longed for. But with the dawn of hip hop came the unexpected, widespread embrace of his 1967 song “Different Strokes”—sampled by artists as diverse as Run- DMC, Michael Jackson, the Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, A$AP Rocky, Kid Rock, En Vogue, Usher and Kanye West, among many others—and new opportunities for the savvy performer emerged. Rob Hatch-Miller’s lively film chronicles the ups and downs of “the best soul singer you’ve ever heard—even if you’ve never heard of him.” (85 mins.) 

tue, feb 2, 2016
at 7 pm
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COOL CATS
DIRECTOR: JANUS KØSTER-RASMUSSEN
DENMARK, 2015

In the 1960s, many American jazz greats traveled--and often permanently relocated--to Europe. Seeking to escape from systemic American police violence, racial discrimination, and destructive drug culture, these artists sought out work, artistic appreciation, and human connections. Among these expatriates were tenor saxophonist giants Ben Webster (1909-1973) and Dexter Gordon (1923-1990), who independently settled in Copenhagen and found themselves accepted and celebrated in a surprisingly warm fashion by their newfound countrymen. Drawing on rare interviews and performance footage from Danish television and films, contemporary interviews with friends, girlfriends, and musicians of the era, and an extraordinary treasure trove of Ben Webster’s own, touching 8mm home movies—this intimate portrait of bittersweet exile connects past and present in a moving fashion. (83 mins.) 



Sponsored by Portland Jazz Festival. 

thu, feb 4, 2016
at 7 pm
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MAGICARENA
DIRECTOR: ANDREA PRANDSTRALLER, NOCCOLO BRUNA
ITALY, 2014

 

“Built 2,000 years ago, the majestic Verona amphitheater—the biggest opera venue in the world—is, indeed, a ‘magic arena.’ Prandstraller and Bruna chronicle the Spanish theatre troupe La Fura Dels Baus’ rehearsals and opening night presentation of Verdi’s Aida, staged 100 years after its original performance there, and capture revelatory glimpses of many of the 2,000 workers responsible for this epic undertaking. As La Fura Dels Baus evoke a magical world and apply their innovative approach to updating the opera for the third millennium, the filmmakers capture an enthralling balance between life on stage and behind the scenes, between private life and public show, and between sacred enactment and secular entertainment, revealing the art of opera like it’s never been seen before.”—Vancouver International Film Festival.(91 mins.) 

Sponsored by KINK.fm. 

fri, feb 5, 2016
at 7 pm
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AMERICAN EPIC
DIRECTOR: BERNARD MACMAHON
UK/US, 2016

 

Presented by Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett and Jack White, and produced for the BBC’s Arena and PBS, MacMahon and a host of co-producers piece together the extraordinary 1920s story of record companies leaving the big city to tour America’s backroads and capture for the first time the raw musical expressions of rural cultures. These field recordings, initially aimed for the rural markets from which they came, democratized music and gave a voice to the most marginalized demographics in the nation. Following the trail to rediscover the families whose music was recorded, and whose legacy has left a lasting impact on popular music, AMERICAN EPIC reveals the remarkable lives of these seminal musicians through previously unseen film footage, unpublished photographs, and exclusive interviews with some of the last living witnesses to that era. In this special advance screening of one of the three episodes in the series, the filmmakers travel deep into the Hopi nation and its musical traditions, explore the origins of Hawaiian slack-key guitar, discover the hybrid of cultures expressed in Tejano music, head through bayou country and its Cajun music, and end up in Avalon, Missisippi to explore the history of the delta blues and its innovator, Mississippi John Hurt. (82 mins.) 

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