With box office receipts of just under $3m, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq was relatively low down the rankings of last year’s blockbusters. However, the work did flag up a chilling milestone. The Windy City has more annual murders and acts of violence than Iraq, even though weapons of mass destruction and former western allies gone rogue are nowhere to be seen. Cody Chesnutt became aware of the runaway mortality rate in Barack Obama’s birthplace just as Lee was in production for his movie.
“Actually, I was in London when the idea first came to me. I heard about one of the alarming statistics in Chicago, like 40 people had lost their lives in one weekend,” he tells me on the phone with a heavy sigh…
Boomtown is coming! Rural Hampshire is the place to be from August 10-13 for Boomtown Chapter 9 – Behind The Mask. There’s no longer any need to cast envious eyes across the Channel towards Summer Jam, Garance and Rototum, or mourn the lack of a major UK festival specialising in bass culture music. Boomtown has come a long way since its inception, and this year’s model promises to be brighter and bolder than ever.
“Escape to a world filled with unity, creativity and freedom,” is a great sales pitch but that’s honestly how it’s been year after year – ever since the mysterious – and possibly mythical – Nickolas Boom had his Road To Damascus moment and started building an alternative city that has got bigger and more inventive each time autumn comes round and a few fields in southern England get a radical makeover.
The word “city” is valid incidentally, because Boomtown 2017 has its own Town Centre and an impressive 27 main stages, spread across 11 themed districts – each with a vibrancy and character of its own…
“My new bitch yellow/She blow that dick like a cello.” So says American rapper Lil Yachty on his recent track Peek A Boo, revealing not only a massive amount of misogynistic thicktwatishness on his part, but in one throwaway phrase highlighting a wider phenomenon that singer, songwriter and [most pertinently] cellist Izzi Dunn has been dealing with for a decade and more: the supplanting of instrumental awareness by technological shortcut.
“That’s the shit that really upsets me – people out there thinking you blow a cello!”
Izzi is laughing while she reacts to Yachty’s quote, but she is far from amused.
“No, I’m not happy about people not knowing what a real cello sounds like and thinking that you blow it. It’s even scarier for the classical world… ”
Lo-fi is a term associated first and foremost with indie label popular music, but jazz also has a history of sounding rough and rugged as well as arty and articulate. The work of American tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is a case in point. In the past few years he has recorded a gorgeous gospel-infused work, Divine Travels, but the latest offering by his trio, No Filter, is, by his own admission, gritty and raw.
“We all play pretty aggressive,” Lewis told me in March to hearty nods of approval from his bandmates, drummer Warren G. ‘Trae’ Crudup III and bass guitarist Luke Stewart. We were sitting in the basement of Ronnie Scott’s in London where the trio was about to unveil music from the aforesaid album at a graveyard shift that nonetheless drew a livewire audience plugged right into the trio’s electric firestorm. It proved one of the gigs of the year so far…