featuring: Roswell Rudd John Tchicai Milford Graves Reggie Workman Amiri Baraka
with: Steve Lacy Pierre Dørge Ben Young
The Breath Courses Through Us (2013) is a documentary film about the early 1960s avant-garde jazz group, the New York Art Quartet. The film focuses on the group’s 35-year reunion, while reaching back through their recollections of their foundations and innovative musical ideas. The year 2014 is the 50th anniversary of this group, and a revolutionary period in jazz music, which declared its existence in the October Revolution in Jazz, in October 1964.
The Breath Courses Through Us mirrors the newly open improvisationary style of “free jazz” that subverted the traditional structure of jazz. Unfolding in free time and enveloped in their music, the film helps the viewer better understand the human element of the creative process, by focusing on their interactions in the present.
The New York Art Quartet was a pioneering jazz group in the early 1960s. Consisting of John Tchicai (saxophone), Roswell Rudd (trombone) and Milford Graves (percussion), the group formed in 1964 and lasted only until the end of 1965. This core of three worked with many bass players, including Reggie Workman. Poet Amiri Baraka often read his poetry at their gigs, and read his famous poem, Black Dada Nihilismus, on the group’s first album. Both Workman and Baraka joined the New York Art Quartet for the group’s reunion and are featured in this film as well. The late saxophonist Steve Lacy, guitarist Pierre Dørge of the New Jungle Orchestra (Denmark), and WKCR jazz historian Ben Young puts everything into historical perspective.