Directed by Jake Meginsky with Neil Young • 2018 • United States
Starring Milford Graves
This portrait of renowned percussionist and founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz Milford Graves finds him exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity. The film draws the viewer through the artist’s lush garden and ornate home, into the martial arts dojo in his backyard and the laboratory in his basement—all just blocks from where he grew up in the housing projects of South Jamaica, Queens. Graves tells stories of discovery, struggle, and survival, ruminates on the essence of “swing,” activates electronic stethoscopes in his basement lab to process the sound of his heart, and travels to Japan to perform at a school for children with autism. Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances, MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is cinema full of fluidity, polyrhythm, and intensity, embodying the essence of Graves’s music.