Oct 28, 2017
liquid blackness, a research group on blackness and aesthetics, is proud to announce…
HORACE TAPSCOTT: A MUSICAL GRIOT
A screening of the film and Q&A with filmmaker Barbara McCullough
In conjunction with the ATLARGE Music Film Festival, whose mission is to showcase, support and aid in the further development of the genre of the music film, Ms. McCullough will present her documentary on the visionary jazz pianist, mentor, and community organizer Horace Tapscott, a crucial figure in the seminal era of Los Angeles jazz history. Tapscott’s band, the Pan-African People’s Arkestra (inspired by the homonymous orchestra founded by Sun Ra), was frequently requested to perform at political rallies and fundraisers.
The screening will be followed by a Discussion with the filmmaker Barbara McCullough on the role of music in her creative process, facilitated by liquid blackness. @ 3:30-4:30 in the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) facilities.
About the film:
Honored as an official selection at the NOLA Film Festival (October 11-19, 2017) and nominated as best doc feature at the 2017 BlackStar Festival, HORACE TAPSCOTT: MUSICAL GRIOT (1991, 72 min) is a “poetic meditation” on the strength of African American music and activism embodied in the history of Los Angeles through the life of musician, composer and community activist, Horace Tapscott (1934-1999). During the Watts Rebellion of 1965, the LAPD stopped his performances, stating that his music incited people to riot. He was blacklisted in the 1960’s and 70’s because of his affiliation with political groups active during those times. The film allows Mr. Tapscott to reveal his story as a griot would in a West African society who preserves the knowledge, legacy and oral history of his culture. Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot was also nominated as Best Diaspora Documentary at AMAA and was the winner of the audience award at the Pan African Film Festival. Shot in 16mm from 1977 to 1991 and edited in HD for BluRay and DVD.
About the filmmaker:
Barbara McCullough is a filmmaker who emerged from the UCLA Los Angeles Rebellion experience to create works emblematic of the reality of African American life, seen beyond the usual stereotypic view. Her UCLA contemporaries who also worked on Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot include: Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry and Julie Dash to name a few, along with Johnny Simmons and Al Santana. Other projects include – Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflections on Ritual Space, a 58minute video that her mentor Shirley Clarke proclaimed, “the title wouldn’t fit the marque,” Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite Of Purification, and World Saxophone Quartet and Fragments. Her works strive to extract the essence of the seemingly mundane to expose its magic and poetry. Horace is another part of that examination. Previously McCullough worked in the visual effects industry for over 20 years and from 2010 until 2016 she was chair of the visual effects department at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Visionary musician but also community leader, Tapscott was at the center of a group of musicians who were deliberately experimenting with alternative forms of collective political action through their community presence and through their musical practice, for example by pushing his community to accept and make room for the sensibility of free jazz. The Arkestra itself had a constantly shifting lineup according to where it was playing.
Through a specific blending of artistic, political and community work, Tapscott’s music performed a type of community organizing and clearly indicated the inextricability between art and politics because, as he explains in McCullough’s documentary, politics enters music because the musicians were up against so much.
About the liquid blackness project:
This screening and conversation with the artist continues experimental research already undertaken by liquid blackness in 2015 around “The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble,” prompted by an in-depth collective study of Larry Clark’s legendary film Passing Through (1977) in which Tapscott appears and provides the key musical score. Both Passing Through’s main character Warmack, played by Nathaniel Taylor, and his mentor Poppa Harris, played by veteran actor Clarence Muse, are modeled after Tapscott and by the ideological, political, and cultural struggles he undertook in his relationship to the recording industry in Los Angeles and beyond. In our previous engagement with the film we looked at the figure of Tapscott through the lens of black radical politics and reflected on ways in which forms of collective study might (or might not) reactivate the activist potential of the fluid communitarian dynamics of the jazz ensemble. For this project, we are looking forward to learning more about Tapscott himself and especially his commitment to his community, his understanding of the need for artistic talent to become a form of mentorship, his ideas that expanded political imaginations can be obtained also through expanded artistic taste, and ultimately the mandate he received from his own first piano teacher to “give back” to his community. In other words, with this project we are shifting our focus from “passing through” to “passing on.”
Previous Screening at MOCA:
Visit liquid blackness for updates and more materials on the film
Visit ATLARGE for tickets and information