Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lesbian Separatists, Indian Jazz, Mumblecore

TNY, March 2, 2009

from Ariel Levy's "Lesbian Nation":

The lesbian separatists of a generation ago created a shadow society devoted to living in an alternate, penisless reality. There were many factions: the Gutter Dykes, in Berkeley; the Gorgons, in Seattle; several hundred Radicalesbians, in New York City, along with the smaller CLIT Collective; the Furies, in Washington, D. C.; and the Separatists Enraged Proud and Strong (SEPS), in San Francisco. There were outposts of Women's Land all over the United States and Canada--places owned by women where all women, and only women, were welcome. "Only women on the land" was the catchphrase used by separatists to indicate that men, even male children, were banned from Women's Land (and they often spelled it "wimmin" or "womyn," in an attempt to keep men out of their words as well as their worlds. More

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from Gary Giddins' article "A Passage to India" about jazz musican Rudresh Mahanthappa:

Jazz musicians have two fundamental goals: creating music that keeps listeners wondering what's next, and finding a novel context within which to explore old truths. (There are no new truths.) Whenever a musician achieves this synthesis, usually after years of apprenticeship and exploration, a rumble echoes through the jazz world. Such a rumble was heard last fall, when the thirty-seven-year-old alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa released an astonishing album, "Kinsmen," on a small New York-based label (Pi), quickly followed by another no less astonishing, "Apti," on a small Minnesota-based label (Innova). The breakthrough had been a long time coming, and, curiously enough, it justifies ethnic assumptions that Mahanthappa had for much of his career been working to escape. 

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While Mahanthappa was at Berklee [College of Music], his older brother teasingly gave him an album called "Saxophone Indian Style," by Kadri Gopalnath. As far as Mahanthappa knew, "Indian saxophonist" was an oxymoron, but the album amazed him. Gopalnath, who was born in 1950, in Karnataka, plays a Western instrument in a non-Western context--the Carnatic music of Southern India (distinct from the Hindustani musical tradition of Northern India). Gopalnath, who generally plays in a yogalike seated position, has perfected something that jaxx saxophonists have been attempting for decades: moving beyond the Western chromatic scale into the realm of microtones, a feat harder for wind instruments, whose keys are in fixed positions, than for strings or voice. Jazz players, such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Albert Ayler, had gone about it by varying intonation, blowing multiphonics (two or more notes at the same time), or squawking in the upper register, where pitches are imprecisely defined. Gopalnanth does none of that. Using alternate fingerings and innovative embouchure techniques, he maintains faultless intonation while sliding in and out of the chromatic scale. Full article

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TNY, March 16, 2009

from David Denby's "Youthquake" on mumblecore movies:

Mumblecore movies are made by buddies, casual and serious lovers, and networks of friends, and they're about college-educated men and women who aren't driven by ideas or by passions or even by a desire to make their way in the world. Neither rebels nor bohemians, they remain stuck in a limbo of semi-genteel, moderately hip poverty, though some of the films end with a lurch into the working world. The actors (almost always nonprofessionals) rarely say what they mean; a lof of the time, they don't know what they mean. The movies tell stories but they're also a kind of lyrical documentary of American stasis and inarticulateness. The first mumblecore film, by general agreement, was Andrew Bujalski's 2002 "Funny Ha Ha," a sweet-natured account of a young woman's post-college blues. But the style wasn't named until 2005, when the sound mixer Eric Masunaga, having a drink at a bar during the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW), in Austin, used the term to describe an independent film he had worked on. The sobriquet stuck, even though the filmmakers dislike it. In the films I've seen, however, the sound is quite clear. It's the emotions that mumble. More.


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