ABOVE: Live Reading Performance recorded February 21, 2009 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY.
Poetic icon and revolutionary political activist Amiri Baraka performs with Rob Brown, an eloquent and versatile saxophonist with a deep knowledge of jazz, in a reading from his book Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems. The recital of the provocative poem Somebody Blew Up America engaged the poet warrior in a battle royal with the governor of New Jersey, who demanded his resignation as the states Poet Laureate. With influences on Baraka's work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements, he is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetic.
This production is part of "Free Jazz at the Sanctuary," a 13-part series of jazz performance videos featuring some of the world's most talented improvisers performing a wide spectrum of music in the genre broadly known as free jazz. Each hour-long show is available on DVD directly from Downtown Music Gallery (www.downtownmusicgallery.com). For more information on this series visit www.JazzSanctuary.org
ABOVE: A visual adaptation of Baraka's scathing and foreboding social commentary with music by The Roots. Shot on three different types of film and two different types of video over three months with at least fifty actors/extras in about twenty-five locations in the West Philly area by one guy, Bryan Green, 22, senior film & video major at Drexel University
The eternal wisdom, beauty, and awesome/awe-full lucidity of Amiri Baraka...Enjoy...
Amiri Baraka (formerly Leroi Jones, b. 1934) is one of the major and most important writers of the past half century in the United States, as well as a longtime political and cultural activist and teacher since the early 1960s. Highly gifted and creatively proficient in many different genres of literature--poetry, playwriting, cultural criticism, the essay, fiction, music and literary theory, history, and criticism, as well as journalism --Baraka is also a consummate community organizer, and revolutionary activist, theoretician, and strategist who has founded and/or been an integral part of many different social, cultural, and political organizations and is widely considered the leading force behind the legendary Black Arts Movement (BAM), a national cultural phenomenon that revolutionized American writing and cultural expression in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Amiri is the legendary and prolific author of over 30 books (!), an esteemed member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a past winner of the American Book Award, the Langston Hughes Award, and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. Baraka also taught literature, music history, cultural history, politics, and African American Studies for over 30 years at SUNY--Stony Brook, Columbia, Yale, and Georgetown universities.