Sunday, May 10, 2009

:.:ThrowBACK To Africa:::Soul Power:.:

I've become less of a cinemaphile over the past few years. So it goes without saying that my attendance at this year's Tribeca Film Festival was minimal. But being a devout audiophile, there was one flick that I knew I had to see. It contained footage that I'd heard about for at least a decade, yet never laid eyes on. Soul Power is the chronicle of the three-day music festival hosted in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which lead up to the landmark 1974 Rumble In The Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali & George Foreman. It featured performances from African, African-American, and Latin artists: James Brown, The Spinners, B.B. King, Hector Lavoe, Hugh Masekela, Willie Colon, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, and more. This summer, for the first time in 35 years, this footage will finally debut to the masses in theaters nationwide.

This is probably one of the best film-going experiences I've had in quite a while. I got the chance to chat it up with director Jeff Levy-Hinte, who also directed this film's predecessor When We Were Kings, about the film after the screening. And being that most of the legendary performers featured in the film are no longer with us, the historicism quotient of this document is exponential. I mean, the scene of the entire cast in flight to Africa, inebriated and singing along with Celia Cruz while she pounds out a guaguancó rhythm on the airplane roof with her 3" platform heel as B.B. King plays an acoustic guitar. Goosebumps. And when the late Ray Barretto visits a local crafts market and gets carried away testing out African percussion instruments. 'Nuff said. If you own the coveted Fania All-Stars Live In Africa DVD, then you may have seen some of these performances already. But if you love soul music from the diaspora in general, then you owe it to yourself to see this flick. Check the optimized trailer @ Apple here.

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