Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
New Voices in Black Cinema ’15: David’s Reverie (short)
issues are an occupational hazard for trumpeters. That’s why Louis Armstrong
always recommended they develop a singing voice—to save on the chops.
Unfortunately, David Johnson has more than his share of health concerns. Just
when he starts booking gigs as a bandleader, his resurgent epilepsy threatens
to permanently end his career in Neil Creque Williams’ short film David’s Reverie (trailer here), which screens as
part of the shorts program at BAM’s 2015 New Voices in Black Cinema.
the first big club date Johnson books for his band, he collapses on stage. He
thought his childhood surgery was supposed to prevent such seizures, but
apparently it was not as successful as he hoped. Of course, the attending
physician prescribes some medication, but Johnson fears the side effects that
dulled his spectacular technique in the past. How much can he risk for the
music—and will it be worth it?
in at about twenty minutes, Reverie is
a real jazz drama rather than a narrative that uses jazz trappings for
seasoning. Johnson’s arguments with his father about the relative importance of
technique versus “feeling” really cuts to the core of jazz. Johnson has tons of
Marsalis school chops, but he has yet to find his uniquely expressive voice.
Williams has a strong, holistic understanding of the issues and challenges
surrounding the music. You have to wonder if he is somehow related to Neal
(with an “a”) Creque, the soul jazz organist and keyboard player. Regardless,
it is always a good sign when a film has a jazz consultant (Supa Lowery
Brothers in this case).
Fobbs (a former regular on The Wire)
is terrific as Johnson. He has the sharp, Wynton-esque “Young Lions” look down
cold, but also connects on a deeper level, expressing Johnson’s insecurities
and resentments. His scenes with Mark E. Ridley as his musician father and
Channing Godfrey Peoples as the band’s saxophonist are as good as anything you’ll
see in any award-trolling feature.
will resonate for anyone who knows someone
struggling to make it on the jazz scene. It is a very human and humane film
that once again reminds us life is not fair. Highly recommended, David’s Reverie screens this coming Sunday
(3/29) at BAM, as part of the New Voices in Black Cinema short film program.
Labels: New Voices in Black Cinema '15, Short Films