Milford Graves Full Mantis
For Free Jazz-pioneer Milford Graves, who helped to release the percussion from its reputation as mere “beat-generator”, music is much more than a listening experience; it concerns physics, chemistry, biology, and even cosmology. At eye-to-eye level, Jake Meginsky’s musical artist’s portrait guides us through the complex universe of his long-time mentor.
The film is set in Grave’s “World Garden” with plants from all over the planet, in his house, jam-packed with African masks, Egyptian statues and anatomical models, in his martial arts studio, and in his basement laboratory, where he studies the human heartbeat and its intricate relationship with rhythm – just a stone’s throw away from the dismal apartment buildings of his childhood in the New York neighbourhood Queens.
Meginsky’s documentary plays jazz in pictures. Everything is turned into rhythm – spider webs and grass moving in the wind, subways on their steely stilts, low-flying airplanes, and not least the hypnotic melody of Grave’s own speech. Just as rhythm and melody unite in a musical composition, Grave’s art and his inspired artistic life coalesce in the - sometimes surprising - pictorial solutions, the precise insights into Grave’s creative workshop, the seamless alternation of temporal levels, and the partly unpublished concert recordings.
In this way, the film reaches down to the roots of a highly sophisticated art form, which emerged from a clash of African tradition and African-American experience.
Jake Meginsky (*1976) is a musician and filmmaker. As a composer and performer of music, he has collaborated with an extraordinary range of musicians, amongst them Alvin Lucier, Joan La Barbara, Thurston Moore and many others. His original composition for Welliver’s Beasts and Plots, which premiered at New York Live Arts in 2013 received the New Music USA Live Music for Dance award and will be restaged at the Guggenheim in 2018. His solo album Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes was listed in FACT Magazines Top 50 albums of 2016. Jake Meginsky’s work has been presented internationally, including the Click Festival (Copenhagen), Standards (Milan), the Duolun Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai), the MIT Center for Art. In 2018, he produced and directed the film "Milford Graves Full Mantis".