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‘It must Schwing! The Blue Note Story’ Review: A tale of love, loyalty, and the pursuit of Jazz

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Does the fate of Black man’s music career still lie in the hands of the Jewish? While dozens augment the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews controlling the music industry amid lacking respect for its culture, a new documentary debunks the exploitative and capitalistic rhetoric.

‘It must Schwing! The Blue Note’ story unpacks the journey of two German friends with one common goal –– introduce the world to the sound of Black Jazz. The film was directed by Eric Friedler and executive produced by Wim Wenders.

Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff fled from Berlin before the Nazi reign and emigrated to New York. They founded the legendary Blue Note Records label in 1939, which later became one of the most respected recording company’s for contemporary jazz in the country, and they had one hell of a roster to back up the notoriety.

The documentary captured the stories of some of the most influential Jazz musicians and their ties to Blue Note, which felt more like a family reunion. From Herbie Handcock to Quincy Jones to George Benson, the cameos played a key role in reviving the glory days –– well, kind of.

Friedler and Wenders narrated the story with subtle, Jazz cadences over classic, white and black animation resemblant of a French cartoon. The approach presented a buoyant element while exploring the dark history of discrimination, race relations, and inhumanity.

Lion and Wolff were no stranger to racism which caused them both to sympathize with the struggles of the Black musicians signed to their label. They didn’t see color –– all that mattered was the music and how alive it made them feel. Their love for Jazz guided them to take risks on a genre not yet explored.

Wolff frequently took blows to the head every time he ventured into the streets of Harlem to purchase the vibrant notes of Black, Jazz artists. He even chose his love for the genre over his marriage with his first wife, which showed the correlation between the beauty and suffering of Jazz.

His dedication to the art was both disturbing and inspiring. Now, Lion, on the other hand, brought in the same passion but quietly through his camera lens –– photographing candids of the artists is what made the label stand out.

Lion was like a silent assassin –– he didn’t say much but they knew he liked the music by his uncontrollable foot taps, even if he was offbeat the artists noted. His photographs became the artwork for their artist’s iconic album covers. The art was a reflection of the time. Before the spoiled era of Adobe software, there was Reid Miles, who was Blue Note’s graphic designer.

Miles progressive design skills along Lions standout still frames amplified the label’s message. Blue Note was ahead of its time, but, yet still light years behind in terms of revenue. While Lions and Wolff were never in it for the money, their pursuit to give their Black artists a voice wasn’t paying their bills.

Wolff eventually sold Blue Note to Liberty Records in 1965, which was the first time they saw any kind of real income, although it still wasn’t much to brag about.

So what happened to the artists post-acquisition? It left a bit of a cliff hanger for the audience as the documentary concluded. I can only assume there is more to the story, which I give it four stars.

It is worth seeing? Definitely, but be prepared to leave the theater wishing they dug deeper into Blue Note’s overall biography.

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Rema drops Afrobeat track dedicated to women around the globe

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Rema by Niyi Okeowo

For the third week in a row, Rema is set to release “anotha banga.” Dropping on Mavin Records/Jonzing World, “Woman” is a song that expresses his appreciation and admiration for all females. 

Recently crowned Apple Music’s Up Next artist – previously awarded to Billie Eilish, Khalid & H.E.R – Afropop’s prince Rema has now released a trio of singles throughout June and July. He kicked things off with “Ginger Me,” a song created in a late-night studio session in London with UK producer The Elements. Quickly followed by trap-influenced track “Alien” which took us on a trippy journey through the mind of a young heartbreaker. 

Crediting his parents for introducing him to Fela Kuti & 2Face, Rema draws influences far beyond West Africa with Bollywood, Trap, Afrobeats, and Pop all becoming part of his trademark sound. With co-signs from the likes of Drake, Barack Obama and now Rihanna, Rema is on his way for a global takeover.

Stream “Woman” via Spotify below.

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NiteLite Pictures unleashes Coronavirus Positivity Initiative

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NiteLite Pictures’ Harry Lowell and Ari Wilhelm

In response to a real demand from its broadcast, Web and distribution partners, as well as charities seeking support, award-winning, Los Angeles-based production company NiteLite Pictures has unveiled the Coronavirus Positivity Initiative, a worldwide effort to create programming that promotes togetherness, community and celebrates the human spirit during the global lockdown.  

Under the banner of the Coronavirus Positivity Initiative, the company is launching a series of programs that spotlight the heroes on the front lines, inspiring individuals from around the world, and comedy shows that take a lighter look at life during the pandemic. All the programs will feature real people from around the globe in an effort to help bring audiences closer together.  

“This is truly a unique time in the world’s history,” comments NiteLite producer Ari Wilhelm.  

“While everyone is doing their part to help keep family and communities safe, there is a need for entertainment content like never before, and specifically relevant, uplifting content that is understanding and respectful of the situation we are all living.”

NiteLite is working closely on the initiative with its UK sales agent Meredith Coral of Lost Art Television to develop programming content tailored to viewing audiences and requested by broadcasters and media platforms during this time.

“NiteLite is responding to broadcasters’ needs and the audiences desires for not only new content, but relevant content to their current situation,” adds NiteLite executive producer Harry Lowell.

“We’re developing heartwarming and comedy programming  that connects to people’s lives during this new norm, while devising production solutions to deliver shows in a matter of days, not months, both remotely and safely.”

The entertainment hub will produce “self quarantine-based” content designed to resonate and connect to audiences. The company’s homebound, creative teams are currently developing engaging programming that can be produced quickly and remotely, while under stay at home orders.

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Oscilloscope’s ‘THE INFILTRATORS’ headed to Virtual Cinema next month

Official 2019 Sundance Film Festival selection, THE INFILTRATORS is a [chilling documentary chronicling the lives] of young immigrants who are detained by Border Patrol and thrown into for-profit detention center— on purpose.

Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical DREAMers who are on a mission to stop unjust deportations.

The film will be available via Virtual Cinema starting May 1 and VOD starting June 2.

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