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October 3, 2001

Inside Out In the Open

Oak Street Cinema, Thursday at 7:30 PM

by Noel Murray

For a film that consists entirely of talking -head interviews, still photographs, and new performance footage, this exploration of the history and continued resonance of the "free jazz" movement is remarkably comprehensive. Director Alan Roth records the observations of a wide array of articulate jazz folk both young and old, subtly arranging their thoughts into three parts: an introduction to the philosophy of free jazz; a fairly detailed history of the genre; and an insightful discussion of the art of improvisation. The segments are bridged by lengthy performances filmed by Roth with an emphasis on the players and their skills, and made more meaningful as the movie progresses due to the explication of Daniel Carter, Baikida Carroll, Alan Silva, and William Parker (among others). The progression of Inside Out In the Open--from a scene of free jazz players hailing the genre's hospitality toward unskilled musicians to a linkage between Sixties radicalism and wild improv to an impassioned defense of the listening skills that separate the improviser from the session man--makes a most convincing case for the merits of "thinking free." The films screens at Oak Street as part of "Sound Unseen," a voluminous series of music-related movies and events; for more information, see www.soundunseen.com.