fri 28/04/2017

black culture

Mulatu Astatke, Jazz Café

Mulatu Astatke has carved out a particular niche within music. He is a one-off purveyor of what Brian Eno called “jazz from another planet”, smoky, mysterious and playful. He’s about the only artist you could describe as both transcendent and sleazy...

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Expensive Shit, Soho Theatre, review - 'strong but slender'

It’s hot. Real hot. And you’re dancing, just lost in music. You’re at the legendary Shrine nightclub in Lagos, where Afrobeat star Fela Kuti is king. It’s 1994. And it’s hot. Sweat is just pouring off you, no longer in little trickles but soaking...

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theartsdesk in Bergen: Questions upon questions at Borealis Festival

There comes a point in any experimental music festival when you have to accept the silliness and go with it. And at Borealis, that point comes very early. Only a couple of hours off the plane in Bergen and we're in a pedestrian tunnel under the bus...

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Othello, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

There's no reason why ruffs and candles shouldn't mesh with bursts of contemporary speech, song and lighting, given a defter hand than director Ellen McDougall's. Shakespeare's timeless issues of racism and sexism have plenty of mileage in them,...

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Roots, BBC Four

Those of us who saw the first, 1977 TV adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots in our teens still remember the shock and horror at its handling of a subject about which we knew little, American slavery. We know a lot more now, but the visceral reaction to...

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Moonlight

As its title foretells, Moonlight is a luminous film. It shines light on experiences that may be completely different from our own, drawing us in with utter empathy. Director Barry Jenkins shows his lead character finding his way out of darkness,...

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Fences

Fences is one of the best-known works by playwright August Wilson, part of his Century Cycle of plays exploring 100 years of black American history, and it won him a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1987. Wilson died in 2005, but further...

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CD: Joel Culpepper - Tortoise

For a young singer like Joel Culpepper, blessed with a fine set of vocal chords and remarkable skill in using them, there is a wellspring of black singing tradition to draw from – from gospel and blues through to soul and contemporary R&B. There...

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Top Trumps, Theatre 503

There's an irony to be found in the fact that America's 45th president is already abolishing any and all things to do with the arts even as his ascendancy looks set to provide catnip to artists to a degree not seen since the heyday of Margaret...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Glass Shield

Charles Burnett is one of the neglected pioneers of African-American film-making. He first won attention back in 1978 with his poetic, powerful debut film, Killer of Sheep. Acclaimed by critics and respected by his fellow directors, Burnett has...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Pioneers of African-American Cinema

The parallel universe of what was known as “race” cinema gets five packed DVDs here. Instead of cringing with sympathy at small, racistly conceived black roles in a classic Hollywood era which coincided with an American Apartheid, these are indie...

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One Night in Miami..., Donmar Warehouse

Kemp Powers’s play is set in a motel room in Miami on the night of 25 February 1964, after Cassius Clay (as Muhammad Ali then was) had earlier beaten Sonny Liston to gain the world heavyweight title. He is joined by two friends, the singer Sam Cooke...

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