SIFF ’09 review: Icons Among Us

Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, directed by Lars Larson, Michael Rivoira, Peter J. Vogt (USA, 2009) 93 min.
Festival Screenings:
May 30, 2009 6:30 PM, Egyptian Theatre

If you’d like a pair of tickets for tomorrow’s show, email us now. The first 3 people will win a pair of tickets, but you must be able to pick the tickets up at the station before 6PM today.


review by masakaman

Copy, cut, paste, sampling breaks, looping, mashing it up -- these are a few basic components of the digital electronic music culture today. In the early 1990s, the first wave arrived with Hip Hop, House, Techno, Acid Jazz, and Drum & Bass. Twenty years later, Hip Hop is going (and has gone) through a major mutation with many styles of rhythms. Drum & Bass have spun off into Dubstep. House and Techno (and all the subgenres in between) have been killed at least twice by the hand of a profit driven market but have survived with even the latest addition to genre called Dubtechno. All these genres and subgenres have grown with the digital revolution, which shapes how music is created, instruments are developed, and provides new tools to make music with. But most of them are still influenced by original jazz, soul, funk, early electronic music, rock, and anything in between with spirit of experimentation. I think WHY NOT and DIY had a lot to do with it. Many people rejected (for real!) Hip Hop, House, Techno, Acid Jazz, back then, even Drum & Bass was once a black sheep in its own community. But we like it now and it continues on. Hip Hop became soundtrack of the youth culture, Indie-Alterna kids discovered Daft Punk, the names House and Techno were no longer replied to with the question “What is that?”, and Nu-Jazz (was Acid Jazz) labels like Ninja Tune, Ubiquity, and Compost have been growing steadily for some time.

I have been enjoying the genetic mutation in Jazz for sometime. New generations of musicians and producers are re-inventing Jazz. They benefit from developments in electronic music. Instead of programming, they play and manipulate samplers and laptops with conventional jazz instruments, experimenting, improvising, and fusing new and old. In case you are interested, check Rune Grammofon (run by Rune Kristoffersen, Ex-Fra Lippo Lippi), a label founded in 1998, distributed by ECM since 2000, and known for releasing jazz and improvised music in undoubtedly experimental electronic forms around Norway’s Deathjazz scene. I also recommend our own KEXP show JAZZ THEATHER, screamin’ adventures of Jazz and beyond.

Icons Among Us is another slice of the impulsive jazz evolution, a world premiere music documentary directed by Lars Larson, Peter J. Vogt, and Michael Rivoira from Seattle, who created four episodes of a TV series. The movie contains conversations between old school and Nu-school skilled jazz musicians who understand the history of the music and combines rare archival stills, interviews with 75 jazz artists, and live recordings of concerts from Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Ravi Coltrane, Medeski Martin & Wood, The Bad Plus, and many others.

Directors by Lars Larson, Peter J. Vogt, and Michael Rivoira, and executive producer John Comerford are expected to attend.

Following the film, join filmmakers and musicians at Neumos for a live performance from daKAH Hip Hop Chamber Orchestra and special guests.

“The daKAH Chamber Hip Hop Orchestra is a powerful riff on the 60-piece arrangement that has made its mark on music cities around the country. This touring configuration of 22 members includes strings, horns, a banging rhythm section, guitar, DJ, and MCs. It’s appearance in Seattle is a direct result of its presence in the SIFF World Premiere of Icons Among Us. The feature length version of this four hour television film series features unseen footage and connects directly to spirit and vision of the music created by daKAH.”

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    This looks like an amazing film. Can’t wait to see it! There’s so much of this kind of music happening in Seattle right now. If you’re not hip to bands like The Teaching, Vunt Foom, Industrial Revelation, etc. you need to search them out!

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