ON OUR MINDS
Photography from Iris Velghe
In 1966, the pianist Cecil Taylor appeared in Les Grandes Répétitions, a series of Nouvelle Vague-influenced documentaries for French television about Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and other modern composers. Taylor, who died at eighty-nine in April, was the only jazz musician featured. The avant-garde jazz movement was young, brash, and commanding increasing respect from a classical establishment that had been, at best, indifferent to black music, and Taylor, a conservatory-trained pianist who was creating a radical synthesis of jazz improvisation and European modernism, had emerged as one of its most militant and sophisticated leaders.
“Abstraction represents self-determination and free will.” So avowed the painter James Little at a recent panel discussion held in conjunction with an exhibition of works by his fellow painter Joe Overstreet, but with the broader purpose of examining the question of “Black Artists and the Abstraction Idiom.”
Donald Glover released a new song and music video “This Is America” under his musical moniker Childish Gambino on Saturday Night Live this weekend — and the four-minute, single-take music video is laden with metaphors about race and gun violence in America.
En route to the National Poetry Slam two years ago, the team from the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan adopted a motto: “Don’t be nice; be necessary.” Now that they’ve seen a documentary about their journey, the team members have decided much of it is profoundly unnecessary. They say the film distorts their actions and exploits the trauma of police killings of black men.