Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. This eagerly awaited new documentary from acclaimed director John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who Is Harry Nilsson) looks at one of jazz’s most revered and respected musicians. Made with full cooperation of the Coltrane estate (and unprecedented access to his music and archive), it touches upon the various evolutions that Coltrane made on personal, emotional, spiritual and musical level. There’s also a wealth of archival footage of ‘Trane on stage, in the studio, and at home backed by some of the greatest music ever created. Denzel Washington is on hand to read some of Coltrane’s most memorable writings, including the essay that accompanied of his greatest work, ‘A Love Supreme’. Featuring remembrances by his son Ravi, Sonny Rollins, President Bill Clinton, Dr. Cornel West, Wynton Marsalis, Common, Kamasi Washington and Carlos Santana, Scheinfeld has put together the definitive look at a musical behemoth. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary opens in New York this weekend and in select cities starting April 26th. You can also go to http://www.coltranefilm.com/ for more information.
Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back. Pinocchio lying face down in a pool. The Pope struck down by a meteorite. President Kennedy lying in a casket. The life size works of Maurizio Cattelan have excited – and offended – the art world for close to three decades. But he is creating controversial art for art’s sake or just to drive up his asking price? That is a recurring question in this new documentary from Maura Axelrod. With cat and mouse cooperation from Catalan, Axelrod details how the artist rose from poverty and homelessness to becoming one of the most sought after – and highest paid – artists in the world. Collectors, contemporaries, gallerists and even critics all weigh in to give their take on the art world’s biggest pranksters. A sharp, darkly comedic look at one of the bad boys of the art world. Maurizio Catalan: Be Right Back opens in New York this Friday and in select theaters April 21st. You can also go to http://www.mauriziocattelanfilm.com/ for more information.
Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes Of Apollo. Thanks to the runaway success of the film Hidden Figures, there’s been a renewed interest in the greatest feats and accomplishments that were made in the U.S. Space Program. This new documentary from David Fairhead looks at Mission Control, the nerve center on the ground that helped make the astronauts reach the Moon. He speaks directly with the surviving members of the team as well as the astronauts to get a first hand account how NASA ended up taking the lead in the space race. The film’s centerpiece is how the crew handled the crisis during the Apollo 13 mission and how they aided in successfully getting the crew home. Whether you are familiar with the space program or diving into it for the first time, Fairhead delivers a fly in the wall perspective on what make the program soar. Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes Of Apollo opens on Friday.
Guerrilla. A lot of talk – and controversy – is surrounding this new six-part limited Showtime series. Written by Academy Award winner John Ridley (12 Years A Slave), it stars Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Babou Ceesay as Jas Mitra and Marcus Hill, an interracial couple living in 1971 London. Jas works as a nurse while Hill struggles to find work. After witnessing the police related murder of a friend, they go from political activism to radical militancy. As they deeper and deeper into the movement, their relationship and values are pushed to the limit. While the series touches on themes such as racism, nationalism, unemployment, police brutality, and whether or not violence is necessary to facilitate change, the series boils down to the relationship between Jas and Marcus. Cessay is great as Marcus, who struggles with his ideals and the dramatic shifts that’s he forced to deal with as he becoming more entrenched in the struggle. There has been very active discussions on Pinto being cast as Jas, but she drives the series. Watching her anger and outrage slowly build and ultimately explode into full on rage is extraordinary. Idris Elba (who is also aboard as a producer) is also in fine form as Jas and Marcus’ co-conspirator Kent, as is Rory Kinnear as Chief Inspector Pence, who is trying to balance a fragile home life with trying to bring Jas and Marcus in. Ridley’s script doesn’t just present things in black and white but adds many textures to show the many complexities that were involved the movement. Look past the hype, check out this series and draw your own conclusions. Guerrilla kicks off Sunday, April 16th at 9pm Eastern on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for more info and extras.
Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band. When David Letterman left NBC for CBS, he lost all rights to the Late Night name and names associated with the show. That included ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Band’, the title that was bestowed to Paul Shaffer and his crew of top flight musicians. Now, Shaffer – along with bassist Will Lee, Sid McGuiness and Felicia Collins on guitars, drummer Anton Fig and the horn section of Tom ‘Bones’ Malone, Frank Greene and Aaron Heick – proudly reclaim that mantle and present their first album together in nearly 25 years. With production by legendary songwriter/producer Richard Gotthehrer (My Boyfriend’s Back, Hang On Sloopy) and executive produced by industry giant Seymour Stein, the band puts their own spin on classic material with a little help from some very famous friends. Dion lends his unmistakeable and still rich vocals to ‘Win Your Love For Me’ while Valerie Simpson duets with Collins on ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ (a song that Simpson that she co-wrote for Ray Charles). Thanks to reggae/rap star Shaggy, Vince Guaraldi’s Grammy-winning song ‘Cast Your Fate To The Wind’ gets an island arrangement while Timmy Thomas’ timeless ‘Why Can’t We Live Together features a passionate reading from Darius Rucker. Long time friend Bill Murray all but steals the album with a surprisingly soulful and gleeful run through ‘Happy Street’ and the memory of David Bowie is honored by Jenny Lewis’ poignant version of ‘Sorrow’. This is pure fun from start to finish and, as expected, the musicianship is as good as it gets. A much welcomed return by a band that more than lives up to their name. Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band is available now through Amazon, Itunes, and all major music outlets.
Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle Album. Based on the Phillip Dick novel, the Amazon series The Man In The High Castle takes place in a very different United States circa 1962: The U.S is on the losing end of WWII with Germany occupying the East Coast and Japan holding the West Coast. The remaining territories serve as the despot for what’s left of the resistance. Producers Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen have put together a soundtrack that works on this premise, with today’s artists putting a new spin on material from the era as if it was being heard on a pirate radio station. The results are both stunning and eerie prophetic, mirroring what is happening today. ‘A Taste Of Honey’ (performed by The Shins), ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ (performed by Beck), and Michael Kiwanuka’s take on ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’ and Karen O’s version of ‘Living In A Trance’ beautifully captures the show’s sense of loss, what might have been and what could still be. ‘Unchained Melody’ (Norah Jones), ‘Get Happy’ (Sam Cohen), ‘I Only Have Have For You’ (Kevin Morby), ‘Spoonful’ (Benjamin Booker) and Kelis’ take on Smokey Robinson’s ‘Who’s Lovin You’ while moody and dark, also capture the spirit of rebellion and reliance that fuels the rebellion. In imagining a world that is deprived of rock n roll and soul music, Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen manage to put in all of the elements that make those genres work: Mystery, longing, defiant and a whole lot of cool. One of the slinkiest soundtracks to come out in a long time. Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle Album is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music retailers.
Truth by Kamasi Washington. After releasing the sprawling, 3 CD set The Epic, saxophonist and band leader Kamasi Washington goes the EP route with his latest release, Truth. A sweeping 13 minute suite, Washington and his top notch band perform a song that is meditative, probing, spiritual, and, as many of the jazz greats before him sought to do, provide a sense of healing. With rich guitars, sweeping strings, an angelic choir, rich piano, pulsating rhythms and, of course, Washington blowing the roof off, this song says more in those 13 minutes, than most artists say over the course of any entire album. Kamasi Washington is officially THAT dude. Truth is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music outlets.
New York City: Martha Cooper. Street art and the artists associated with it, is now a global phenomenon serving as a breeding ground for what’s next in the art world. Photographer Martha Cooper was there from the beginning, documenting the emerging street art scene that exploded in New York City in the 1970s. All of her work will be part of a new retrospective at the Steven Kasher Gallery. It will include her black & white photographs from her days working for the New York Post, alongside new portraits of today’s street artists at work. Come out to see a master photographer as she captures some of the best and brightest in the art scene. The Martha Cooper exhibition will run at the Steven Kasher Gallery April 20th through June 3rd. You can also go to www.stevenkasher.com for more information.
Ted Russell: Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964. Before Bob Dylan become a rock n roll icon, best selling author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, he was just a struggling artist working the New York City folk scene. Photographer Ted Russell, who was working for LIFE magazine among other publications, was there to capture Dylan’s ascendency. This new exhibition features 40 recently discovered black and white photos that covers everything from his earliest gigs, his NYC apartment, to being honored with his first public award. If you want to get a sense of what the folk scene was like in the early 60s and see its brightest star about to blow up, check out this exhibition. Ted Russell: Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 will be at the Steven Kasher Gallery April 20th through June 3rd. You can also go to www.stevenkasher.com for more information.