Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 7:30pm
Robert Drew's On the Road with Duke Ellington + Thomas Reichman's Mingus

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Introduced by Ephraim Asili

On the Road With Duke Ellington, Robert Drew, 1967, 16mm, 58 mins
Mingus, Thomas Reichman, 1968, digital projection, 58 mins

Looping before and after screening: Jazz Salt, Ephraim Asili, 2018, audio, 30 mins

The pairing of Robert Drew’s 1967 film On the Road with Duke Ellington and Thomas Reichman’s 1968 film Mingus was originally inspired by a request from the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College. The museum was interested in hosting a screening of films in relation to a sound installation that I had at the museum at the time. The installation, Jazz Salt, was a 30-minute tape loop commissioned for the museum’s freight elevator, a sound collage dedicated to black music and literary experimentation during the 20th century.

The collage pulls almost all of its samples from vinyl records. The exceptions are interviews with jazz musicians taken from various sources; two of those sources are On the Road with Duke and Mingus. I saw both of them for the first time back when it was still common to rent VHS tapes from a local video store. I was then fortunate enough to live near the Video Library which was located in West Philadelphia. The Video Library was well known for obscure titles and their music section contained both the films in this program. Eventually I bought my own copies, and when the time came to make Jazz Salt I knew that I would sample each of them.

In many of my interactions with people interested in jazz music and culture, I find that they are more likely to learn about jazz through media like Ken Burns’s Jazz or an article in a publication like Down Beat or perhaps a scholarly biography. I have no major issues with these sources of information, but I would never consider them as proper substitutes for hearing directly from the source. Whenever I approach a project dealing with this subject, I always prioritize the artists speaking in their own words, and it is the willingness of both Drew and Reichman to prioritize Ellington and Mingus speaking in their own words and actions that continues to draw me toward these two works of cinéma vérité. - EA

Ephraim Asili is a filmmaker, multimedia artist, DJ, radio host, and educator. His films, which focus on his travels throughout the African diaspora, have been shown at festivals worldwide, including the New York Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival (where he received the Most Promising Filmmaker Prize), Milano Film Festival, Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival, Boston Museum of Fine Art, and elsewhere. Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College, Asili DJs on WGCX FM and at the semi-regular dance party Botanica.

Print of On the Road with Duke Ellington courtesy of the Academy Film Archive and Drew Associates. Special thanks to Tom Yoshikami at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.