Joining as our host and presenter of the evening is our friend and Station North neighbor, Jason Willett from True Vine Record Shop. When asked why he chose to present Ornette: Made in America for our North & Charles series, Jason said:
I love this film for a hundred reasons, but I’ll mention one. I believe that what Shirley Clarke, who directed this film (her very last film), Ornette and myself have in common is that we are beatniks. This is my take on what beatniks were and are: people who reject the psychological illness that is in abundance in our mainstream (and somewhat outside of mainstream) society. It’s an illness that destroys free thinking & true creativity. It’s an illness that is rampant with manipulation, dominance, sterilization, greed, fear, brainwashing and soulless imitating, that can be seen much more clearly if you are disconnected from it. Some beatniks stop right there and spend their life stuck in a state of disgust and snobbery. This is an important phase of the transformation, but the beatniks that I relate to much more are the ones who go beyond that point and return to the mainstream to make a change in a positive way.
What I love the most about beatniks is that whether they’re in the former or latter camp, differences of race and sex aren’t important. It’s about where your head is at. This is why in the 1950’s, in America, if you walk into a public space and find a room of different races of people sharing ideas and enjoying and/or hating life together, most likely you’ve walked into a beatnik club. Most other places were segregated. Ornette created a musical approach called harmolodics, which allow the musicians to express themselves as they are feeling at the moment, in an individualistic way, while still being in unison of intention with the other musicians and with what they are expressing together. There is no expectant dominant tonal center, nor is there any right or wrong tempo for any of the musicians. In my opinion, harmolodics can be seen symbolically outside of music as a way of being together with others in unison as individuals. In unison, in that what unites us is much greater than our differences, whether you know it yet or not.