Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Experimental Cinema meets Avant-Jazz: David Rimmer's Al Neil film at the Cinematheque

Photo courtesy Steve Chow of the Pacific Cinematheque

Do you like really fucked-up music?

I haven't spun it for a long, long time, but some of the most fucked up music I can recall having heard is on Al Neil's Boot and Fog LP. It sounds, you might say, like Thelonious Monk on horse tranquilizers - but with vocals; the version of "Over the Rainbow" is as creepily drugged-out a take on that song as one could ever imagine (which, in a way, is utterly perfect). You can find this precious vinyl artifact - a collectible currently listed at $45 US on eBay, that is not available on CD - at Neptoon Records at a reasonable price; if you're a sonic adventurer with a taste for local history, you should at the very least go buy this album (it should come with a 7" single), because this is some important local music we're talking about. (There's also a 2-CD retrospective of his earlier works, which I gather you can also snag at Neptoon). Neil was born here in 1924, co-founded The Cellar Jazz Club, has written memoirs, done visual arts - a collage/assemblage of his appeared on the Vancouver International Jazz Festival program last year - and combined tape music with his piano experiments to blaze some truly bizarre trails through the 1960's and 1970's, all in this very city. There's a bio on Neil and some links to other excellent articles on him and his role in the Vancouver jazz scene here. There's even more at Brunt Magazine, online, here. Ken Pickering informs me that, for the upcoming jazzfest, the Sound Gallery free performance, July 5th at the Roundhouse Performance Centre, will "build on their Al Neil-inspired performance at last year’s event," with Paul Plimley on piano and Neil collaborator Gregg Simpson on drums (and also Clyde Reed and Viviane Houle and Stefan Smulovitz).

Those of you who combine your taste for fucked-up music with a taste for experimental cinema, further, have the rare opportunity - you lucky sods - to see a film about Al Neil, tomorrow night, as part of the Cinematheque's booklaunch/retrospective of the works of David Rimmer. I haven't actually seen the film and don't know that much about the work of Rimmer, I confess - I missed the last night and have only caught Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper - but I gather it's is a 40-minute portrait of Al Neil, so I'm there, and I have a very good feeling about the night.
But I'm also burdened with marking and other life-shit-stuff that I need to negotiate, so I will have to leave you to your own devices for further research. (Ejaculation Death Rattle/ G42 member Dan Kibke writes about the first night of the David Rimmer retrospective on his new blog, here - so that's something you can start with).
I must now go feed my bedbugs.

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