Milford Graves Full Mantis
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Director: Jake Meginski; Co-Director: Neil Young
Starring: Milford Graves
2018, USA, 91 minutes, Digital, Not rated
MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is the first ever feature-length portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.
Graves has performed internationally since 1964, both as a soloist and in ensembles with such legends as Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan and Sonny Sharrock. He is a founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz, and he remains one of the most influential living figures in the evolution of the form.
The film draws the viewer through the artist’s lush garden and ornate home, into the martial arts dojo in his backyard and the laboratory in his basement – all of this just blocks from where he grew up in the housing projects of South Jamaica, Queens.
Graves tells stories of discovery, struggle and survival, ruminates on the essence of ‘swing,’ activates electronic stethoscopes in his basement lab to process the sound of his heart, and travels to Japan where he performs at a school for children with autism, igniting the student body into an ecstatic display of spontaneous collective energy.
Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances from around the globe, MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is cinema full of fluidity, polyrhythm and intensity, embodying the essence of Graves’ music itself.
NYT CRITIC’S PICK:
“You can get a lot of facts about Mr. Graves and his discography on the internet (and I recommend you do). This movie gives you, well, the man’s heart, and it’s a beautiful one.”
— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“A movie about Graves’ life and work that’s similar to his percussive style: unpredictable, out-of-sync yet somehow rhythmically right on, jagged and likely to zig when you think it’s going to zag.”
— David Fear, Rolling Stone
“A small treasure for avant-garde fans.”
— John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter