Category archives: Art for Progress

  • The second film from Swedish director Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan is an evocative, beautifully filmed documentary of a remarkable life cut short and a remarkably fertile period in New York City’s jazz scene. In February 1972, acclaimed 33-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot to death by his common-law wife Helen in an East Village club. The murder shocked all who knew the couple, including Morgan’s fans and fellow musicians, many of whom tried to make sense of the tragedy afterwards.Using interviews; gorgeous, iconic, black and white still photos; archival film clips, and moody reenactments—all underscored by a fabulous soundtrack—Collin constructs compelling portraits of both Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen, making their way in New York City’s hopping jazz scene from the late 1950s through the early '70s. The story slowly builds up to that fateful night, providing details that many have apparently pondered for years. In doing so, Collin gives us a glimpse of the great talent possessed by Morgan, along with poignant memories of the people who nurtured and appreciated it. With its potent music, atmospheric footage of vintage NYC and artfully abstract recreations, the film also gives us a palpable sense of time and place.Collin's main resource is an interview that Helen gave to radio host and jazz scholar Larry Reni Thomas in 1996, a month before she passed away. This fortuitous conversation came about when Thomas was teaching adult education a[...]
  • With each year the staggering list of shows grows larger, but we're here to help with this not so shiny, quite diverse list of recommendations to help you sort it all out.Monday, March 13thIdgy Dean  - The Parlor Room, 88 Rainey St – 7pmSylvan Esso - AV Club Presents Just Another Manic Monday @ The Mohawk - 10:45 pmGirl Pool - Do512 Party @ Hotel Vegas - 1 amTuesday, March 14thWu Tang Clan w/ Thievery Corporation - ACL Live at the Moody Theater - 11:00pmThe Districts - Buffalo Billiards - 1:10amSpoon - The Main - 1:00amSleigh Bells - Stereogum Party @ Empire Garage - 1:00amPlastic Pinks - Fine Southern Gentlemen - 2:00amWednesday, March 15thMaybird - Taco Bell Feed the Beat  - 1:00 pmThe Avett Brothers - ACL Live at the Moody Theater - 11:00pmTokyo Police Club -  Bungalow - 12:00amGrandmaster Flash - Clive Bar - 11:00pmThe New Pornographers - Stubb's - 12:20amField Trip - The Market - 1:00amThursday, March 16thJulie Byrne - Pitchfork Day Party @ French Legation Museum - 12:30 pmLo Moon - YouTube @ The Coppertank - 3:00 pmThe Big Moon - South by San Jose @ San Jose Hotel - 4:00 pm BBC 6 Music Presents @ Latitude 30 - 12:00 amBeach Slang - BrooklynVegan @ Cheer Up Charlie's - 5:00 pmPell - Stub Hub party @ Bangers - 6:00pmEcstatic Vision  - Grizzly Hall - South By South Death - 9:00pmGirl Pool - Anti- Records Party @ Elysium - 11:00pmFriday, March 17th[...]
  • In some recent discussions with musicians, bands, DJ's and musical creatives, I made the point that for me, a flat performance is pretty much a worthless one. If you can't take people on a musical journey than it's just plain boring. It's the bands and DJ's that can cross genres that get my attention.  Case and point, Tell All Your Friends PR  turned us on to the new album from rock trio, Slothrust.  After listening to the album, I decided to do a review for the blog.  I have to admit, sometimes I don't get past the first track, but "Surf Goth" got my attention.  The idea that they would start the album with an instrumental track was enough  for me, and when the show began on Saturday evening at Mercury Lounge it was the first track they played.Let me start by saying, their sound is on-point and very powerful. Particularly for a trio. They have great chemistry on stage, and their fans (including me) are really into them.  Musically, the band members are equally impressive as they effortlessly worked through songs that range from blues to grunge with elements of jazz.While Kyle Bann (bassist) had a continuous grin on his face, Leah Wellbaum maintained a certain attitude as drummer Will Gorin fiercely hit the skins as if it was possibly his last opportunity to play this year. Highlights from the new album- "Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone," "Mud," "Sleep Eater," and "Trial & Error," which Wellbaum explained she wrote in high school.  From the older mat[...]
  • Written and directed by Boo Junfeng (2010’s Sandcastle), Apprentice is a quiet yet gritty drama about a newly hired young prison guard who is “promoted” to working on death row. (It was Singapore’s official entry for the 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.) Unlike other movies of its genre, Apprentice doesn’t go for big, sweeping statements or emotions, but instead shows one man struggling with a soul-wrenching job as he comes to terms with his own family’s past.We first meet Aiman (newcomer Fir Rahman) as he’s being interviewed for a position as a guard in a maximum security prison. His stated reason for being there is idealistic: he wants to help people change. Initially, pending a background check, he has limited security clearance, i.e. no access to the “condemned cells.” Scenes of him joking around with prisoners in the yard and helping them with shop equipment indicate that he truly does want to help. He glimpses an older, white-haired man in the cafeteria and there is a wary recognition. This is Chief Rahim (played by the excellent Wan Hanafi Su).Later, when helping another guard move equipment in the condemned block, Aiman brings himself to the attention of Rahim by volunteering information about where to get a certain type of rope. As the camera casually hovers over an open trap door, we realize that this is where hangings take place. The no-nonsense tone and mundane conversation illustrate the businesslike nature of death here.Scenes at the pr[...]
  • We recently caught up with musician, singer, song writer and visual artist Yoni Wolf to discuss the new album from his band Why?.  Moh Llean will be released on March 3rd, and is the band's first release since 2013's Golden Tickets.What was the band’s motivation/inspiration for the latest album, “Moh Llean” and how is it different than the band’s previous releases?I can't say there is ever a specific motivation or inspiration. We are artists and we are drawn to making art in whatever state-- from whatever space we find ourselves. This one was no different, though of course it ends up with its own feel and identity based on our changes and developments as humans.Is there a particular story you wanted to tell or message you wanted to send with “Moh Llean.”I would say that whatever the album conveys thematically, it does so naturally without pre-conceptions or agenda.  That said, I think it is an attempt at openness in the heart and acceptance and peace.How did the hip hop element of the band’s sound come to be? Are you guys hip hop fans? Classic or modern day hip hop? Or, was it organic?I started out as a rapper. Hip hop is at my roots and core.  I don't think this album is very hip hop though.Tell me about the band’s creative process. Do you work remotely or do you go off to the woods to write together as a group?I wrote most of the stuff myself. My brother Josiah and I produced and arranged the stuff together.  We have a couple musicians-- [...]
  • Founded in 1962, Film Comment has long been the critical voice of art-house and independent cinema, while also offering thoughtful coverage of more mainstream movies. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which has published the magazine since the 1970s, annually presents the Film Comment Selects festival, which runs this year from Friday, Feb. 17, through Thursday, Feb. 23. Now in its 17th year, the festival screens movies that are not generally shown elsewhere, mixing the new and noteworthy with older, sometimes forgotten films that deserve another look.The scope of the festival is demonstrated by its opening night films: a premiere of Stéphane Brizé’s A Woman’s Life, an intricate adaptation of the Guy de Maupassant novel; and an Ultra-widescreen IMAX presentation of Terrence Malick’s trippy Voyage of Time, a visual and aural treat. The festival also features a four-film tribute to recently deceased cinematographer Raoul Coutard and revivals including 1972's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and rarely seen 1962 short On the Harmfulness of Tobacco, both directed by Paul Newman.Here’s a look at a couple of other films to be screened:Bitter Money, Wang Bing’s rambling, fly-on-the-wall documentary about Chinese migrant workers, is sometimes a tough slog. His loose, observational style doesn’t always serve the stories of his subjects—various individuals who have traveled to Huzhou to work in the city’s garment factories—nor does it consistently[...]
  • Returning to New York Fashion Week this season is none other than Kayne West, debuting his fifth season of Yeezy for Adidas.The collection featured oversized sweatshirts, slouchy outerwear, and utilitarian trousers -- all restricted to neutral tones.See some of the looks for yourself.https://twitter.com/theyeezymafia/status/831979870066466826West's presentation of looks also included the kickoff of the much-Instagrammed Calabasas line, Refinery 29 reports.Photo Credit: AKM-GSI The 15-minute showcase took place at Pier 59 Studios -- an old-line NYFW locale -- and attracted celebrities including his wife Kim Kardashian, sister-in-law Kylie Jenner, LaLa Anthony, Teyana Taylor, Hailey Baldwin and more.https://twitter.com/lala/status/831987657177702401Cameos from models included Luka Sabbat and Amina Blue, and the show marked the launch of Halima Aden -- the Somali-American stunner who is IMG Models' first hijab-wearing model.https://twitter.com/Edward_Enninful/status/831968901168820226?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw The rapper/designer with Teyana TaylorPhoto Credit: Walik  Check out more looks from the showcase below.
  • Modern Rendition of Cymbeline to Premier this April at NYC’s Historic Theatre 80 St. Marks Director/Producer Alexis Confer and Art for Progress Founder Frank Jackson are proud to announce their upcoming production of Cymbeline at Theatre 80 St. Marks this spring. This production will use the classic language of Shakespeare, but approach the Bard’s “fairytale” with a modern lens. The audience will be transported to a world floating between the blurred morality and frenetic energy of a Vegas-like kingdom and the stark, colorful beauty of the American Southwest.In order to bring a fresh, nuanced and uniquely comedic performance to the stage, the company is intentionally made up a variety of performance backgrounds from musicians to stand up comedians, from classically trained Shakespearean actors, to improvisers. Led by Confer’s direction, the tight-knit cast has done several Shakespearean shows together in 2015-2016 - Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced by OFFLINE Productions and Much Ado About Nothing produced by Art for Progress.Most importantly, the goal of the show is to create a great live performance experience while raising awareness and funds for arts education. All profits from the show will go to Art for Progress’s programs for children and young adults - helping to empower NYC’s young artists.Art for Progress’ Arts Education Community provides under-served youth with dynamic artistic programming that promotes reflection and self-expres[...]
  • Tomer Heymann’s documentary about choreographer Ohad Naharin, Mr. Gaga: A True Story of Love and Dance, begins with a rehearsal scene in which a dancer falls backward repeatedly, as Naharin encourages her to “let go.” This painstaking (and literally painful) process is familiar to most dancers and anyone who’s witnessed the art of making tough choreography look easy. In the case of the iconoclastic Naharin, artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company and founder of the Gaga (no relation to Lady) movement technique, the choreography is both incredibly demanding and extremely rewarding, as his dancers and audiences can attest. Mr. Gaga, which delves into Naharin’s creativity as well as his personal life, includes interviews, archival footage and many performance clips. The result is a visually thrilling and soul-satisfying portrait of a remarkable talent and individual.Born and raised on a kibbutz, Naharin was an instinctive dancer as a child, influenced by his music-loving mother Tzofia. Home movies show bucolic kibbutz life as an idyllic setting for a creative child. Later, Naharin served as an entertainer in the Israeli Army, during which time he first began to create dances. The choreographer, who narrates much of his own story, explains how the “absurd theater” of performing for soldiers influenced dances such Sadeh21. We also learn via an early interview that he began dancing because of a family tragedy, a dramatic story that will be revisited later in th[...]
  • With an unprecedented climate of change and concern dawning in the United States, Art for Progress arts education programs are more essential than ever. AFP is embracing the ever-growing need for alternative and supplemental art, music, theater, and fashion programs for young people representing the voice of true expression in our city. Once again this has been an exciting semester for existing Art for Progress arts education programs in New York City’s public schools, and there are some new programs in the works for the second half of the school year.Our flagship music program at Humanities Preparatory Academy, which includes school day sessions as well as after school, is flourishing and has produced and cultivated a bunch of wonderful talent this semester. Everyone at the school is looking forward to the talent show on February 16th, which will include solo vocal and instrumental performances, and a variety of ensemble pieces and even a dance number.  AFP’s after school program at the James Baldwin School is also going strong and was well represented in the recent school-wide talent show on Friday, January 20. Students from both schools have been working hard after school every day, choosing songs and rehearsing. Especially impressive is the spirit of mutual encouragement among the students as the shows approach.As for AFP’s Young Adult Music Enrichment Program, tracking is nearly completed on Bronx rock band Statik Vision’s full-length album, and we are preparing [...]
  • A solid directorial and screenwriting debut by Australian actor and theater director Simon Stone, The Daughter borders on melodrama, but still manages to pack a considerable wallop. Stone originally converted Henrik Ibsen’s 1884 play The Wild Duck into a production set in present-day Australia for Sidney's Belvoir St Theatre in 2011. Like that version, some of the original story's details have been stripped away for The Daughter, yet the film retains a Nordic moodiness. As with live plays, the actors often sell the thing and The Daughter is no exception; Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Miranda Otto and Ewen Leslie, especially, deliver intense performances that make the film’s escalating drama compelling throughout.These events are set in motion by Christian (Paul Schneider), who returns to his Australian hometown after 15 years in the U.S. to attend the wedding of his father Henry (Rush)—a wealthy lumber mill owner—to his much younger housekeeper, Anna. There is obvious friction, as the son seems disgusted both by Anna’s age and the fact that his father is still using the car that belonged to his late wife, Christian’s mother.Complicating things, Henry has just shut down the mill, leading to an exodus of unemployed workers and their families from the town. Christian’s childhood friend Oliver (Leslie) is one worker who hasn't left; he and his wife Charlotte (Otto) dote on their daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young in a tough role), a bright high schooler who is also very cl[...]