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ULYSSES JENKINS

 

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Notions of Freedom

Video, 2007

 

This video composition utilizes visual documents and references the history of Jazz and it’s related historical musical forms.  These media archival sources dating back as far as the 19th Century and will reference the use of many Jazz historical moments. A multi-media composition, which includes the use of motion capture movement technologies and digital animation for the spirit dance figures: Ms. Cheryl Banks-Smith formally of the Sun Ra Arkestra and Ulysses Jenkins are portraying the spirit dance figures dancing. The motion capture collaboration and animation imaging by Mugen Suzuki. The soundtrack is created by Kei Akagi. 

Music serves as the focal point of inspiration for this work and as such plays a pivotal role in bringing it to life.  The original soundtrack created by Kei Akagi, entitled: “Chief Concern”, is based upon the mood and music referenced in Miles Davis’ album track entitled: “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down”, from Mr. Davis’ seminal album, “Bitches Brew”.  Miles Davis’ music distills virtually every jazz style, as well as various blues off shoots like R&B, Soul and Funk.  The music epitomizes a spirit of defiance and self-possession that no artist before or since has expressed.  Kei Akagi is uniquely suited to contribute to this work. He played in Miles’ last performing band and through this experience, absorbed not only Davis’ music but developed a keen appreciation and insight into Miles Davis’ personal style of how to integrate all of these elements of his creative spirit. 

The title of this work brings to bear the essence of the music and how to realize the artist as a musician and there need to continually reach further for the next expression of pure freedom. This expression called Jazz, becomes the experience of a true American art form.  As it grew from a past historical moment, the music became a language between American Americans and a gesture of a living culture concerning the aesthetics of life.  Some today argue whether there is a legitimate hybrid language created by  African Americans called ‘Ebonics’. And yet within the art form of Jazz there exists scat vocals and vocalees. Wherein origins of these musical forms essentially were created as a communications device among slaves.

Who derived from different tribal regions in Africa and transplanted into a new world.  While surviving the institution of Slavery by necessity these musical expressions developed and coincided with social struggles and eventually the civil rights movement in America. A movement which has influenced every social movement in the whole world.  This music continues to provide a measure of the direction, which has made social change possible.  Especially when we reference and pursue the history freedom. This work also works as a tribute to the History of Jazz and an homage to Great Jazz Musician Miles Davis.

Ulysses Jenkins
c.2007