It wasn’t a rekkid but a documentary that I “listened to” and was struck by. Andreas Hartmann’s My Buddha is Punk (2015) delighted me for many reasons. Most important, the film captured in specific and moving detail how difficult it must be to be a committed punk and Buddhist, particularly in war-torn, atrocity-scarred Myanmar (where some “Buddhists” initiate the atrocities). The central figure, 25-year-old Kyaw Kyaw, is indefatigable, driving his ragtag band Rebel Riot through rehearsals, debating with a drunken, slipping peer about punk’s meaning while knocking out a fanzine, attending regularly to his Buddhist rituals, confronting an anti-Muslim Buddhist about his stance, traveling miles and miles by train to sell gear, play music, and promote the band (trying to talk a fellow traveler out of joining the military along the way). This is no cinematic masterpiece; artifice would probably get in the way. If you’ve ever been holed up in a dank cellar, trading sweat with other humans while you listen to raw, rough raging songs of freedom and resistance–or if you have struggled to stick to your principles–you’ll want to check out My Buddha is Punk. We watched it through Nicole’s subscription to tricycle, but I know you all have your ways.
Still on a Dennis Gonzalez roll. It is criminal that this Texan is not more widely known as a master player and composer in jazz: his achievements in balancing freedom and order, making improvised music accessible, and designing dynamic opportunities for and inspiring his fellow musicians are awe-inspiring. Yesterday’s nutritious, euphonious helpings were Gonzalez’s New York Quartet records Midnight Suite and Dance of the Soothsayer’s Tongue. If you love Mingus’ classic work, folks, you have no excuse not to track these down. They don’t sound like Mingus; they simply share that laudable drive bring structured but emotionally unrestrained music to life. (Note: Mike Thompson, on drums, is a wonder.)