The film hasn’t been seen much since, except by generations of graffiti fans and writers who watched it on VHS tapes. Now it’s being re-released on the big screen, with a showing Friday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It will hit screens around the country this fall.
Stations of the Elevated is not a documentary in the usual sense. It’s only 45 minutes long; there’s no narrative and hardly any dialogue. The camera follows subway cars painted from top to bottom with vibrant graffiti compositions over a soundtrack of jazz by Charles Mingus.
The Mingus Big Band was recently featured in both The New Yorker and New York Magazine!
New York Magazine raved about the group’s residency at the Jazz Standard, saying: “Sue Mingus’ popular 14-piece act pays tribute to iconic jazz bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus. The tight, technically adept band has been at it for over ten years—they had a long run at the Fez Under Time Cafe until it closed in 2004—and their dedication has paid off: Their weekly live shows constantly draw rapt, delighted crowds, and three of their seven albums have earned Grammy nominations.” Read the story here.
The New Yorker wrote in its ‘Goings on About Town’ section about the Mingus Big Band’s premiering of “Noonlight,” a recently-discovered Mingus composition. Read the listing below!
…”Two years before Ellington died, in 1972, Yale University held a gathering of leading black jazz musicians in order to raise money for a department of African-American music. Aside from Ellington, the musicians who came for three days of concerts, jam sessions, and workshops included Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Mary Lou Williams, and Willie (the Lion) Smith. During a performance by a Gillespie-led sextet, someone evidently unhappy with this presence on campus called in a bomb threat. The police attempted to clear the building, but Mingus refused to leave, urging the officers to get all the others out but adamantly remaining onstage with his bass. “Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music,” he was heard telling the police captain. (And very few people successfully argued with Mingus.) “If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’ ” Once outside, Gillespie and his group set up again. But coming from inside was the sound of Mingus intently playing Ellington’s dreamy thirties hit, which, that day, became a protest song, as the performance just kept going on and on and getting hotter. In the street, Ellington stood in the waiting crowd just beyond the theatre’s open doors, smiling.” ♦