Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story

I loved this film for its insights on the common human trait of our need to express ourselves. This film unveils the very odd song poem industry where people all over America mail in their poem/songs and have them put to music for a fee. The intersection of people handing over their unfiltered ideas to a segment of the music industry that churns out the music as fast as possible creates some amazingly far-reaching results.


Genghis Blues

My interest in throat singing brought me to this movie about the American blues singer Paul Pena. It is an incredible story trailing Paul’s journey of discovering Tuvan throat singing, meeting their national artist Kongar-ol Ondar, and then travelling to Tuva to participate in Tuva’s triennial throat singing competition. It’s a beautiful example of how fate, kindness, and respect for other cultures can expand us.


Sound

This short experimental movie captures two giants of music, John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk exploring the phenomenon of sound. The pairing of these two minds could not be more perfect for the subject of the film and it is such a treat to hear them. The footage of Roland Kirk playing in the zoo and then in Ronnie Scott’s jazz club juxtaposed with Cage’s reading from his notes on sound could sum up the breadth of music as a sound practice.


Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey

For all those interested in the espionage and early electronic music, this is the movie for you. The rise of the Theremin as a legitimate classical instrument was fascinating but equally so was the intriguing story of Leon Theremin who was kidnapped by Stalinist agents and forced to make spy gadgets for the KGB for the remainder of his career. The footage of Clara Rockmore, a Theremin prodigy and Leon Theremin’s love interest, is breathtaking.


Man On Wire

This is a beautiful film that captures the human sense of achievement, drive and determination. The film chronicles Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. The images are beautiful and so too are the motivations behind the caper that enabled the feat.

***

Jason Sharp's forthcoming album, Stand Above The Streams, is out this Friday (February 23rd) via Constellation Records. Listen to 'Stand Above The Streams Pt. 3' below.