DER Documentary

Jazz Cosmopolitanism In Accra, A Film Trilogy

Jazz Cosmopolitanism In Accra, A Film Trilogy preview coming soon

by Steven Feld
color, 120 min with 18 min of extras, 2009
in English, Ga, Twi
with English subtitles


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Hallelujah! (60 min, 2009)
This film presents an African talking drums version of Georg Friedrich Händel's Hallelujah chorus, as staged and performed by legendary drummer Ghanaba together with the Winneba Youth Choir. Ghanaba's unique approach to Händel mixes elements of African, Christian, and Islamic ritual with formal European concert performance, Ghanaian ceremony, and improvisation. The performance is followed by a conversation with Ghanaba about jazz, European, and “world” music.

Accra Trane Station: The Music and Art of Nii Noi Nortey (60 min, 2009)
This documentary distills three years of video conversations with Nii Noi Nortey, the Ghanaian sculptor, instrument inventor, and avant-garde instrumentalist. Nortey discusses the African legacy of John Coltrane, and how it inspired invention of his "afrifone" instruments, and a series of twenty Accra Trane Station sculptures and four CD recordings. The recordings and film also feature his longtime percussionist Nii Otoo Annan, "the Elvin Jones of West Africa." Included are scenes of Nortey creating sculptures live at two Accra art exhibits, and performing with Accra Trane Station in recording studios and in concert in Ghana and the USA.

From Accra To Santa Fe (18 min, 2009)
In August 2007 Nii Noi Nortey and Nii Otoo Annan traveled from Accra, Ghana to Santa Fe, New Mexico to perform and record with Steven Feld, and his musical colleagues Alex Coke and Jefferson Voorhees. This short features film clips from the sessions at 4th World Recording Studios to record the music for the CD Topographies of the Dark, featuring two collective compositions, Mood Duke, and Black Heat.

A Por Por Funeral for Ashirifie (60 min, 2009)
Por Por music (pronounced “paw paw”) is named for the honking sound of antique squeeze-bulb car horns, ubiquitous on the wooden lorries of Ghana's early transport history. After electric horns arrived in West Africa a union of bus and truck drivers in the Accra township of La kept the por por horn and invented a jazzy honking. The La drivers only perform Por Por at funerals of their fellow union transport workers. In March 2008 the La Drivers Union Por Por Group lost one of its key members, Nelson Ashirifie Mensah. This film documents the funeral performed in his memory and discusses Por Por's relation to the New Orleans jazz funeral.

Related Resources
Filmmaker Site

Related Films
The Story of Por Por
Siaka, An African Musician
Play, Jankunú Play - The Garifuna Wanaragua Ritual of Belize
The Swahili Beat: An Introduction to the History of the East African Coast



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