Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 10 TFF2015: Who Are You? 'In Transit' Has Some Answers; A Self-Appointed Savior / Vigilante in 'Crocodile Gennadiy'

A mother and daughter aboard the Empire Builder in "In Transit." Photo from "In Transit" Facebook page.

She is fresh off of a visit to her daughter in Chicago. Mother and child have not seen each other in more than 40 years ...

Several days past her due date, a young woman is returning to the bosom of her family and outside the orbit of her disagreeable boyfriend, the father of her unborn child. Her baby will meet at the same time "all the people I love." And hate, "because sometimes my family drives me crazy."

A 21-year-old man with dirty fingernails and a clear vision is going to the oil fields to make his fortune – in seven years.

They are among the changing population of passengers aboard an Empire Builder, a series of Amtrak trains that serves the Midwest and Northwest United States, from Chicago in the East to Seattle in the West. Between points, it makes stops in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Their brief stories are told in "In Transit" from the late Albert Maysles (his last film) and a series of directors on various legs of the trip: Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker and Ben Wu.

The film shows this evening and tomorrow evening in the last two screenings of its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

On any long trip – whether in the sky or on the ground – it is natural to wonder about one's fellow travelers. Where are they going? Are they running from something? Running to something? What's their story? Who are they?

"In Transit" answers these questions to a degree that is satisfactory, haunting, touching. The aforementioned heroine, now sporting red hair and a tattoo, married young to an abusive man who gave her seven children and little else. She grew tired of the beatings, and decided not to take them anymore.

"If you hit me again, I will shoot you," the woman fresh from that Chicago reunion recalls telling her tormenter. His threats from behind prison walls informed her difficult decision to give up the children for adoption.

Not all of the stories are the stuff of blues or country lyrics. A mother and daughter are snuggled against each other, possibly late at night. The daughter is now in college, and they are wishing each other the best in finding good companionship. At the moment, however, it is them against the world.

A bit of patience is required with "In Transit," for it does not go from 0 to 60 in seven seconds. It opens on a young man who has left Mississippi on his way to his brother and a better life in Seattle. He and a young woman are discussing the importance of change ... Children play ... Other passengers board the train. A viewer may not yet be engaged.


But "In Transit," which garnered an honorable mention at last night's Tribeca awards ceremony, finds the right gear and is on cruise control for the rest of the journey. A series of gripping tales emerges – forming a beautiful mosaic, much like this country – as different as the changing landscape framed in the train's windows.

One of the most tender moments unfolds during a conversation between a younger and older man. They are chatting amiably enough, as folks often do on a long trip. With the miles, however, talk becomes more serious.

"To have love" is what the younger man would change about his life, he discloses tearfully. He was raised without a mother or father. The older man takes up his hands and addresses him in soothing, encouraging tones ...

For the first time in her life she is simply herself. "I really don't want to get off the train," says a woman whose marriage and life are in transition. "It's been more than just a means of travel to get from one place to another." Here Tawna is not reduced to "somebody's label" – daughter, wife, mother ...

"I love the plains ... My mother's native; my dad's white," says a man whose relationship is also in critical condition and may have expired by the time he returns home. "But my heart and soul ... It's where I hunt. It's where my people are. It's where my family lives. There is something very therapeutic about getting back to the plains. It's the perfect place to clear a person's head" ...


What is the dream job of this Rugby, North Dakota native? As a youngster, he spied a passing train and wondered where all of those people were going? This is the train conductor's dream job. "Much to the ridicule from my classmates and even some ridicule from my family, this is the only job I ever wanted."

All aboard!

Also showing this evening is Crocodile Gennadiy. The documentary from Steve Hoover, in its world premiere, follows Gennadiy Mokhnenko over a 10-year-period. (See video above).

One of the pastor’s supreme callings is saving Ukrainian youth from streets meaner than ever after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

He has many supporters; he has many detractors.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: ”Shorts: Interference,” “Some Came Running,” “Live From New York!,” “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Aloft,” “Slow West,” “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Down in the Valley,” “Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Brad Bird and Janeane Garofalo,” “The Ethics of Accuracy,” “Hyena,” “All Eyes and Ears,” “Far From Men,” “Backtrack,” “Cartel Land,” “Lucifer,” “Shorts: NY - Double Espresso,” “Tenured,” “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon” and “Cronies.”

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 9 TFF2015: Parsing the Words of 'Lucifer's' Gust Van den Berghe Over Liquid Courage

Gust Van den Berghe (left) and actors on location in Mexico on the set of "Lucifer." Photo from "Lucifer" Facebook page.

"I hope that I am not boring you with all of this."

Not at all. Yours Truly is utterly fascinated by the ideas spewing forth from "Lucifer" director Gust Van den Berghe during our chat over a beer and sparkling wine in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge at Spring Studios.

His film, a version of the biblical story of Lucifer that follows the angel during a layover in a heavenly Mexican village en route to Hell, is having its U.S. premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Screen Festival. The last two of its four screenings are this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon.

Incidentally, GVdB emphatically states that his film – third in a trilogy – is meant to be seen "in the cinema. I make films for the cinema."

Based on the work of the same name by Dutch playwright and poet Joost van den Vondel, "Lucifer" has the distinction of being the first film to be shot using Tondoscope (http://www.tondoscope.com). Essentially, it means it is filmed through a circle instead of a rectangle. From the perspective of the viewer, images on the big screen appear round and have a painterly quality, that of a daguerreotype.

The images – as in "Lucifer" – are at once aloof and extremely intimate. Otherworldy; finite; without horizons. This aspect would be lost on a small screen, particularly a mobile device. (See video below, explaining how the Tondoscope process was developed for "Lucifer").

"I wanted to bring new materials to old ideas," he says by way of explanation for his use of Tondoscope. Old paintings of paradise lost that captured subjects in the round also informed the use of this technique.

Meanwhile, one is held in thrall by the Flemish director's worldviews – part-intellectual, part-iconoclast, a pinch of existentialism. Consider: he discloses that "I don't think" when I make films. Pressed to expound, he continues, "It's like a negative – a blank – and I fill it in. When you make a mark with your shoe, you were there and this is what you see. You don't think about it. You do it and it just is."

Uderstand? How about this one: "We are immigrants in life – not like the way one usually thinks about immigrants, with borders. But we are in a place in time and these are our experiences without confines."

Of "Lucifer," he says "people can think whatever they wish. It is done and I am working on two other films." And then when raised brows confront him, "I am proud of what I have created, and I do not say that to be arrogant."

Humility is apparent. GVdB is a filmmaker (and a writer and the son of a writer). He loves the medium. He makes film for the sheer pleasure and artistic expression it permits, a way of communicating ideals, horrors, the human condition. Certainly, not for monetary gain. "Lucifer" does not yet have a distributor, and he has no idea where his team is in the process.

"I leave that to the salespeople. If I find a distributor and the film makes money, that is good. But it doesn't matter if it does not."

Neither do awards matter. "Lucifer" has won one. What? Where? "It does not matter; it is of no consequence," he says dismissively

All awards matter, one has to counter. He seems to concede the point, revealing that "Lucifer" took the Grand Prix at the International Film Festival of Tallinn Black Nights (Estonia.) On Friday (24 April), he journeys to Cancun, Mexico for the Riviera Maya Film Festival where "Lucifer" is entered.

"For me, being accepted to a film festival is like a reward," he is insisting without a trace of guile. "I don't enter film festivals to win awards."

Yet, GVdB is gratified when he does, no?

"Yes."

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks: Snap It, Vine It, Tube It,” “Hyena,” “Come Down Molly,” “Slow Learners,” “The Overnight,” “The Diplomat,” “Man Up,” “Hungry Hearts,” “Anesthesia,” “Tumbledown,” “Shorts: NY – Daily Grind,” “Sunrise,” “The Birth of Sake,” “El Cinco,” “We Are Young. We Are Strong,” “Transfatty Lives,” “Good Kill,” “Democrats,” “A Faster Horse,” “Stung” and “Shorts: Family Dynamics” (See video above of “The Arrest”).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 8 TFF2015: Earth Exacts Sweet, Beautiful Revenge, One Surmises, in 'Wrapped'

Something has a stranglehold on New York City in "Wrapped." Photo from "Wrapped" Facebook page.

IT is difficult to get a straight answer out of Falko Paeper about what “Wrapped” is about as we are jawing at Spring Studios on Saturday evening, Day 4 of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the Shorts: NY - Double Espresso section of the festival, the part-digital animation film is screening tonight, as well as Friday through Sunday (24-26 April) in its New York premiere. (See video below).

The young Berlin, Germany native is uttering something along the lines of “It’s set in New York” and “You have to see it.”

And so do you, Dear Reader, for “Wrapped” is a piece of impressionist art. You and your companion may be watching this film and come away with wholly different interpretations of what you have witnessed. It is apt that one of its four screenings is today, the 45th Earth Day. (http://www.earthday.org)

One inference that can be drawn from “Wrapped” — a clever, imaginative, visually stunning work — is that it ponders Earth from the perspective of a dying rat.

Possibly a casualty of an automobile crash, the creature remembers life before the monstrosity that is the concrete jungle of New York City or any metropolis teeming with people, vehicles and noise. First, the memories of a better time evolve slowly, then as the protagonist breathes its last, life whizzes by at lightning speed.

In hindsight, it becomes clear from the tête-à-tête with FP why three directors were a key ingredient in a four-minute film. At the time, however, this inquiring mind could not comprehend that the time-lapse photography that made whizzing life possible would require a director unto itself.

"Wrapped" has a director for its digital, action and time-lapse photography sequences, respectively. Aside from FP, a web designer who handled the digital piece, a director's credit goes to Roman Kaelin and Florian Wittmann. The three were film school mates. "Wrapped" is their thesis project.

One film, three simultaneous directors ... hmmm. "We worked well together," FP discloses to a skeptic. "This is our third film."

Yet another inference that can be taken from the award-winning film is that Earth is striking back. Taking vengeance because its organic matter — grass, trees, flowers — has been destroyed. In its place concrete, steel and the aforesaid pollutants.

Its revenge is swift and ferocious — a big bang — with a doomsday soundtrack.

In “Wrapped,” it is a wonderful, beautiful thing.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Ava Duvernay,” “Angry Sky,” “Misery Loves Comedy,” “Anesthesia,” “Maggie,” “Apple Store Panel: Misery Loves Comedy,” “Backtrack,” “A Courtship,” “Ashby,” “Man Up,” “Shorts: NY - Espresso,” “Dirty Weekend,” “Bare,” “Good Kill,” “Shorts: Home Improvement,” “Stranded in Canton,” “Slow West,” “Sleeping With Other People,” “Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict,” “Cronies” and “Being 14.” (See video above).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 7 TFF2015: Casting a Candid Spotlight on 'Roseanne for President!; Kissing Friendship Goodbye in 'The Kiss?'

Roseanne Barr for president campaign button. Photo from Roseanne for President! Facebook page.

AMONG her many accomplishments, Roseanne Barr has been a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Surprisingly, many are unawares, but in 2012 the comedian-mogul ran for the highest office in the land against incumbent Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Dr. Jill Stein and others.


Eric Weinrib chronicles this chapter in her life in the documentary “Roseanne for President!.” It continues its world premiere run at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival this afternoon and Saturday (25 April.)

Meanwhile, friendships are fragile things. They are difficult to build, and maintaining them can be as tricky as keeping a house of cards from collapsing.

Why then, is human nature such that we too often endanger these very special bonds. For instance, if one has a perfectly good friendship, is it not madness to burden it with a complication such as a romantic kiss – even if it is only for research?

Of course, it is. Yet, Daniel (Roberto Cavazos) and Ale (Ana Gonzalez Bello) go down this slippery slope in “The Kiss” (“El Beso”). The film by Carlos G. Davila is also on the Tribeca schedule today and Saturday in its U.S. premiere.

During an impromptu chat in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge, at the impressive new Spring Studios CGD discloses that he was attracted to the project because of its universal theme. In fact, co-producer and star RC asked him to help produce the film. “I told him that I would produce it if he would let me direct.”

The Monterrey, Mexico native is also an architect. Alas, his heart was elsewhere. He'd go on to study film – "I said it was now or never" – and has directed commercials, music videos and TV shows. “There are many similarities between architecture and filmmaking,” he says.

Of course, he prefers film, but which is the less difficult of these tough trades? Without skipping a beat: “Architecture is easier and it's easier to make money.”

"The Kiss" of death between Daniel (Roberto Cavazos) and Ale (Ana Gonzalez Bello)? Photo from "The Kiss" Facebook page.

“The Kiss,” CGD's filmmaker debut, has been well-received around the world, garnering a Best Short Film award at the Monterrey International Film Festival and as Best Film and Best Audience Film at the Wimbledon International Short Film Festival

This delightful amuse bouche is slapstick funny at times as Daniel and Ale try to perfect the kiss. Ana – acting as a kinder, but no less exacting Henry Higgins – gives instant critiques and makes arch observations. “... passion … not velocity.” / “top notes of peppermint.”

How the players keep a straight face during these proceedings is a testament to their acting abilities. Cocooned in CGD's hovering, in-your-face lens, their reactions and interactions are utterly authentic.

But when they finally seal the deal with the perfect kiss ...


“I had a similar experience,” CGD confides, “and after it the relationship was weird.”

Let this be a lesson to us all.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks Master Class: Dolby Institute The Sound of the Coens," "The Armor of Light," “Far From Men,” “Steak (R)Evolution,” “Shorts: Gallery Opening,” “Roseanne for President,” “Orion: The Man Who Would Be King,” “The Driftless Area,” “Sunrise,” “Stranded in Canton,” “Among the Believers,” “Havana Motor Club,” “All Eyes and Ears,” “Song of Lahore,” “Shorts: Tightrope,” “On the Town,” “Apple Store Panel: Far From Men,” “Sworn Virgin,” “The Overnight,” “Havana Motor Club.” and “Lucifer.” (See video above).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 6 TFF2015, Murder Is on the Menu in 'Nostradamus'

Ethan Hawke works remotely in "Good Kill." Photo courtesy of IFM Films.

So often in thrillers, characters speak in inanities. Albeit, harmless conversation that is a harbinger of bad things to come

Such is the case with Thomas Ikimi's “Nostradamus.”

The short film, ensconced in the “Shorts: Interference" section, is having its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Screenings continue tonight, as well as Friday and Satruday (24 and 25 April).

At a dreary diner in the middle of a California nowhere, drone pilot Harry Fisher (Austin Nichols) and Silas (Amy Sloan), a woman he has just met, are chatting amiably enough, until Silas brings him to the point: He has to kill the man he has come to meet or she is going to blow up the whole friggin’ diner, the state and possibly the world.


In the director's note, TI says “Nostradamus” is inspired by “Strangers on a Train.” Whether the reference is to Hitchcock's film or its source material, the novel by Patricia Highsmith, it matters not. Essentially, murder most foul will happen. In “Nostradamus,” there is actually a twist: You will murder one and I will not murder many.

As has been noted (http://www.bit.ly/1O8QtCg), there are numerous films in TFF2015 that might run as companion pieces because of their subject matter. In this case, “Good Kill,” would be a natural complement to “Nostradamus." The Andrew Niccol film stars Ethan Hawke as a put-upon drone pilot who does his killer job from a Nevada trailer. It's having its U.S. premiere and screenings continue Wednesday and Thursday, 22 and 23 April, respectively.

Meanwhile in “Nostradamus,” Harry and Silas are very attractive people – with all-American looks and appeal – the kind most people would welcome as a neighbor. However, they are among the most dangerous people on earth – the last any should wish to live near.

As it becomes clear in “Nostradamus” what is at stake, the faces of AN and AS take on increasingly disturbing expressions, registering doom minute by minute. In the wake of this clear and present danger, Harry maintains a calm exterior and a clear mind, owing to years of military training.

Similarly, Silas — military, herself — is as serene as you please, munching on bacon as if she has not just threatened Armageddon. Look closely and see fleeting light from TI’s camera capture a glint of insanity about her latter expressions.

The tension is real and palpable, pushing one to the edge of his seat as befits any good thriller. The surprise ending is gravy.

TI and co-screenwriter Joshua Banta deliver spare and engaging dialogue well-suited to the subject matter.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: ”Man Up,” "Fastball,” “Ashby,” “Wondrous Boccaccio,” “Shorts: Interference,” “The Wolfpack,” “Tribeca Talks: David Rockwell & Danny Meyer, How Does a Space Tell a Story” “Bad Hurt,” “Being 14, “Dixieland,” “Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict,” “Havana Motor Club” and ”All Eyes and Ears."

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 5 TFF2015: Listen to Sound of Tabla, Flute and Other Instruments 'Song of Lahore'

The Sachal Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in "Song of Lahore." Photo by Frank Stewart.

THE sound of the tabla drum is once again – albeit quietly – resounding in the former cultural mecca of Lahore, Pakistan.

In “Song of Lahore,” Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, chronicle a group of master musicians who started to play again, nearly 30 years after a draconian form of Islam was imposed on all of Pakistan.

In this new world order, music was frowned upon. War, ethnic divisions and corruption also muted the sounds of the tabla, flute, violin and other instruments.

The film continues its world premiere run at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival this evening. (Other screenings are scheduled for 21 April and 23 April).

Fast forward to 2004 when Izzat Majeed founded Sachal Studios and the artists – under pain of severe censure – would be coaxed into picking up their instruments, producing music combining traditional music with Western forms, including jazz.

This engaging sound caught the attention of Wynton Marsalis, among others outside of Pakistan, and an invitation to the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to perform in New York with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Part master class and subversive treatise, “Song of Lahore” reveals a triumph and a travesty: the Sachal Jazz Ensemble should take a bow, but few in Pakistan are aware that the musicians are making this beautiful, exotic-sounding music. One can only hope that this film and other international appearances will help change this.

Yet, reason for celebration is that these rebels are defying edicts and allowing long-dormant art reflourish.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Shut Up and Drive," "Roseanne for President," “Very Semi-Serious,” “Five Star,” “A Ballerina's Tale,” “Good Kill,” “Tribeca Talks Script & Screen Hosted by Barnes and Noble: This Is the Real Life” “In Transit,” “Man Up, “Bare,” “Virgin Mountain,” “Havana Motor Club” and "Toto and His Sisters." (See video above).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy the Extraordinary Journey That is 'Coming Forth by Day'

Cassandra Wilson and the rest of Team "Coming Forth by Day." Photo from Cassandra Wilson Facebook page.

TRANSPORTIVE

Audiences in New York, Boston, New Orleans and other cities are in for a treat if Cassandra Wilson's shows play out like “Coming Forth by Day” (Legacy Recordings).

The record, released on 7 April and the centennial of the birth of Billie Holiday, pays tribute to that iconic artist. It is CW's second tribute album (“Traveling Miles” [1999] was the first).

“Coming Forth by Day” is jazzy, bluesy; it rocks; it swings. Moody and dramatic are apt characterizations. It can be described as ethereal.

The two-time Grammy winner has said she wanted to do something atypical with her latest project. Certainly, many of her song choices don't typically make BH best-of lists.

“We couldn't just revisit Billie Holiday and regurgitate the usual things that jazz musicians do. So all of the genres go out the window. All of those preconceived notions about how to approach a song go out the window.” (See video below).

Importantly, she invokes the royal we and alludes to genre-breaking. Therein lies the success of “Coming Forth by Day.” It is produced by Nick Launay. The rows that this uber-producer, composer and recording engineer hoes are mainly in the pop-punk realm. Heretofore, jazz has not been his thing.

The opening seconds of Track 5, “All of Me,” wash over the listener with a series of bell-like sounds, then possibly cymbals, followed by piano and base. Now, strings and all are speaking at the same time. It is deeply textured and coherent. Meanwhile, CW's contralto is being swept along by the sounds on top of, beneath and surrounding it. All conjuring up images of a lazy warm afternoon at the beach or an intimate dinner with friends; speeding along a deserted scenic coast in a sports car with the top down.

NL brought onto this project artists with whom he's worked. From Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds came drummer Thomas Wydler and bassist Martyn P. Casey. He also pressed into service Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner.

“You Go to My Head (Track 4) opens with drums, followed by guitar, before the whole body kicks in, sounding very much like a full orchestra for a few seconds, before it crescendos down to one or two instruments. It would make a perfect musical backdrop in a stylized film, something on the order of a James Bond entry. CW's vocals kicks in at the 35-second mark. For these ears, Sarah Vaughan OWNS this song. It succeeds here, however, because along with the instrumentals, Van Dyke Park's (also on strings) arrangement is sublime despite its postlude. Though punctuated by sparkling repartee between base and violin, it is superfluous.

Rounding out the musicians are CW collaborators pianist Jon Cowherd, guitarist Kevin Breit and saxophonist Robby Marshall.

Interestingly, at moments on “Coming Forth by Day” CW brings to mind SV, though a breathy version. The first occasion is the opening track, “Don't Explain,” a cheeky CW interpretation and the lightest tune here. One can see a raised eyebrow when she observes, “I see LIPSTICK.”

Elsewhere, SV is evoked on “Last Song (For Lester)” (12, the last track), a CW bluesy-jazzy original dedicated to longtime BH collaborator Lester Young. CW's vocals on “Crazy He Calls Me” (Track 3) are cocooned by the instruments. A non sequitur on this record, it is a kindred spirit of SV's “You've Changed.”


On 25 April, CW will be in concert at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. She takes to the stage of Boston's Berklee Performance Center on 11 April.

Tonight (10 April at 8) in her headliner debut, CW is on the Mainstage of The Apollo Theater in a show billed "Absolutely Live Presents Cassandra Wilson: A Celebration of Billie Holiday." Earlier in the week, CW was in attendance when BH was inducted into the Apollo's Walk of Fame. (http://www.bit.ly/1HdnoQV)

Like “Coming Forth by Day,” the concert is dedicated to the lady born Leonora Fagan.

CW's decision to simply pay homage to Lady Day rather than imitate her was a wise one for two important reasons. First, their voices are so very different. BH's alto is in the spirit of a young, flirtatious girl – a minx. On the otherhand, CW's contralto is that of a sultry woman who knows what she's about. Regurgitation would have been strange fruit indeed.

The vocal standouts on “Coming Forth by Day” are “The Way You Look Tonight” (Track 6) and “I'll Be Seeing You” (Track 11). Perhaps, this is the case because the vocals are front and center.

On the latter, which opens with nearly 90 seconds of instrumentals, CW particularly takes her time, singing haltingly at moments. If “The Way You Look Tonight” suggests a woman sensing impending heartbreak, Track 11 presents one whose heart has been shattered, stomped on, then shredded. Her sorrow is palpable.


The Apollo Theater executive producer Mikki Shepard and Cassandra Wilson lead a toast to Billie Holiday in the Mainstage venue afer the singer's Walk of Fame induction ceremony. Photo by Karmyn Caraballo.

The second reason eschewing a full-on BH imitation shows good sense is because the songs are classics, known to many and sundry. An imitator leaves herself open to unfavorable comparisons. One is hardpressed, though, to find comparisons between “Coming Forth by Day” and any other. CW still adheres to the M-Base Collective best practice of often thrusting instruments to the foreground and pushing voice to the background.

The distinction as the most haunting track belongs to "Strange Fruit" (Track 10), not surprising considering its subject matter. It is the third best vocal performance from CW. The gravitas inherent in her voice is well-suited for her role here of chorus, expressing the horrors in this tragedy.

A breakout hit for BH, "Strange Fruit" is another track on "Coming Forth by Day" that would seamlessly fit into a Bond flick. Likewise for Sergio Leone westerns and horror films starring Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. Musical genres – blues, European classical, jazz, pop, punk, rock, soul – soar and freefall, finally congealing like an accusing, angry mob. Noisy, bloodthirsty, terrifying. Expressed through instruments, this brutality is beautiful.


The musicians should be given equal due for the simple truth that the instruments – not CW's vocals – drive most of the songs. The unexpected combinations of sounds that NL has wrested from these artists and VDP's arrangement of them are the ingredients that make “Coming Forth by Day” the triumph that it is.

Listeners, close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported to some fantastic, unfamiliar places.

Visit http://www.cassandrawilson.com to purchase and learn more about “Coming Forth by Day” and for a tour schedule; visit http://www.bit.ly/1FINmK2 to purchase tickets and to learn more about "Absolutely Live Presents Cassandra Wilson: A Celebration of Billie Holiday."
 
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