Milford Graves Full Mantis

New York Times Critics' Pick
91 mins.
Directed by Jake Meginsky

MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is a portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.

Graves has performed internationally since 1964, both as a soloist and in ensembles with such legends as Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan and Sonny Sharrock. He is widely considered to be a founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz, and he remains one of the most influential living figures in the evolution of the form.

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 of this just blocks from where he grew up in the housing projects for 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 where he performs at a school for children with autism, igniting the student body into an ecstatic display of spontaneous collective energy.

Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances from around the globe, MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is cinema full of fluidity, polyrhythm and intensity, embodying the essence of Graves’ music itself.

"You can get a lot of facts about Mr. Graves and his discography on the internet (and I recommend you do). This movie gives you, well, the man’s heart, and it’s a beautiful one." Glenn Kenny. A New York Times Critic's Pick!

About Jake Meginsky: Composer/performer/filmmaker Jake Meginsky (b. 1976), a New Music USA award winner and Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in filmmaking, has collaborated and performed with an extraordinary range of musicians including Milford Graves, Alvin Lucier, Joan La Barbara, Vic Rawlings, Greg Kelley, Bhob Rainey, Joe McPhee, Thurston Moore, William Parker, Daniel Carter, Paul Flaherty, Arthur Brooks, and Bill Nace.

His work has been presented widely and internationally, including the Click Festival (Copenhagen, Denmark), Standards (Milan, Italy), the Duolun Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai), Beijing Today Museum and Jinse Gallery (Chongqing, China); throughout New York City at The Kitchen, New York Live Arts, Joyce SoHo, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Symphony Space, Judson Church, La MaMa, The Stone, The Flea Theater, Vision Festival, Roulette, Museum of Arts and Design, Center for Performance Research, Improvised and Otherwise Festival, and Free 103; in Boston, MA at Opensound Festival, The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, YDLMER Festival, Mobius Gallery, Le Laboratoire and the New England Complex Systems Institute; The Neurosciences Institute (La Jolla, CA), Context Art Fair (NYC & Miami), Experimental Music and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) and the Arts Center for the Capital Region (Troy, NY), The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (Bard College, NY), DOT AIR Festival (Providence, RI), University of Iowa, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Work in the Performance of Improvisation Festival and USDAN Gallery (Bennington College, VT), A.P.E. Gallery, Academy of Music, and the Sound and Space Festival (Northampton, MA), Pioneer Arts Center (Easthampton, MA), and the Mead Museum of Art (Amherst, MA). His work has also been supported by several organizations, including the Jerome Robbins Foundation, Bumper Foundation, National Performance Network, Vermont Arts Council, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Northampton Arts Council, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Meginsky’s work has been reviewed extensively in leading contemporary music, art and culture publications worldwide. Huck Magazine (London) describes Meginsky’s work as “constantly transgressing the boundaries between acoustic and electronic, analog and digital.” David Keenan called Meginsky’s 2014 solo record, L’appel Du Vide, “a hallucinatory electro percussion masterpiece” and in the WIRE Magazine review of the LP, Nick Cain writes, “the album uses little more than a couple of sounds, extracting often head-spinning complexity from a minimum of means.” Art In America Magazine says, “Meginsky’s digital concrète takes percussion to outer extremes.” Secret Thirteen (Berlin) calls Meginsky “one of the most adventurous minds in experimental music today.” L’appel Du Vide was included in the WIRE’s 2014 Top 10 Records of the Year for Outer Limits. Meginsky's Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes was listed in FACT Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of 2016.

Meginsky frequently collaborates with choreographers and has worked with Cori Olinghouse, Paul Matteson, Jennifer Nugent, Susan Sgorbati, Katie Martin, Wendy Woodson and Nora Chipaumire. He has a longstanding artistic relationship with Gwen Welliver. Welliver and Meginsky will premiere a new evening-length work at Gibney Dance Center (NYC) in 2018. Meginsky is the recipient of a New Music USA Live Music for Dance award for his original composition for Welliver’s Beasts and Plots, which premiered at New York Live Arts in 2013 and will be restaged at the Guggenheim in 2018.

His recordings can be found on NNA (Burlington, VT), Mantile (London), Second Sleep (Milan), Feeding Tube Records (Northampton, MA), Rel Records (Providence, RI), Open Mouth Records (Northampton, MA), Wooden Finger Records (Belgium), Ultra Eczema Records (Belgium), and Ecstatic Peace Records (London/Northampton). He recently remixed Body/Head’s (Kim Gordon & Bill Nace) “Last Mistress” for Matador Records (NYC). His latest solo LP, Gates and Variations, was released on Open Mouth Records in October, 2017.

About Neil Young: Artist Neil Young (b. 1976) makes moving images, sounds and events. His film and video work has been screened at Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film, Athens International Film Festival, The Machine Project, Nightengale, Good Night’s Sleep and Robert Beck Memorial Cinema. His video and sound installation work has been exhibited at Vox populi (Philadelphia), A.P.E. (Northampton) and Parsons Hall (Holyoke) galleries. In 2012, a six hour retrospective of his video diaries and travelogues were exhibited as part of Trickster’s We’ve Got Guests program in Rotterdam, NL.

For 15 plus years he has toured all over North America and Europe both solo, under the Bromp Treb moniker, and as part of the collective Fat Worm of Error, playing percussion and electronics. He has performed at an array of official and unofficial arts institutions such as ICA (Boston), High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music (Baltimore), Ende Tymes Festival (Brooklyn), Far Off Art Fair (Köln), Experimental Media And Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), Block Museum of Art (Chicago), No Fun Fest (Brooklyn), Center for New Music (San Francisco), Kunstencentrum Belgie (Hasselt, Belgium), Instants Chavirés (Paris), Roxi (Frankfurt), Goethe Institute (Boston), OCCii (Amsterdam).

His recordings have been released on Feeding Tube (Northampton, MA), Load Records (Providence, RI), Open Mouth (Northampton, MA), Ormolycka (Brooklyn, NY), Ultraeczema (Antwerp, Belgium), Death Bomb Arc (Los Angeles, CA), Ecstatic Peace! (London/Northampton), Körper/Leib (Naples, Italy) and many more.

Matthew Guerrieri, wrote in New Music Box that the “over-the-top physicality and deliberate unpredictability” which mark Young’s Bromp Treb performances “can be heard as either a critique or a celebration of the questionable level of control we have over our own gadgets,” resulting in “the most optimistic electronic racket you’re likely to hear.” Marc Masters, writing about his first solo LP in The Out Door proposes that Bromp Treb uses “a singular sonic vocabulary” where his “biggest genius lies in his coordinating conjunctions and dependent clauses – his endless toolkit of aural sentence structures that turn pointillist specks into textured musical colorstorms. Yet somehow he also finds a range of timbre, tone, and mood inside all the solar showering; Concession Themes can be light or heavy, calm or consternating, funny or fractal.”

Since the late 90’s, Young has been programming experimental art events and building enthusiastic audiences. Projects have included performance and screening series such as the Bright Rectangle (1999 - 2003), the Montague Phantom Brain Exchange (2008 - 2010), Phantom Erratic (2011 - present), as well as The Peskeomskut Noisecapades (2011 - present), an outdoor winter landscape sound/performance festival held on the ice of a frozen river.

He has participated in residencies at Signal Culture in upstate NY (2016) and Deplayer in Rotterdam, NL (2009). In 2017, he was awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for his work in filmmaking. He lives and works in Western Massachusetts, North America.