Friday, February 27, 2009

The Black List: Neal Evans ought to do more scores

Neal Evans of Soulive

While checking out Vol. 2 of the excellent Elvis Mitchell/Timothy Greenfield-Sanders documentary series The Black List, which premiered on HBO last night, I really dug the wall-to-wall yet laid-back and pitch-perfect score by Soulive keyboardist and first-time scorer Neal Evans. The series' cool main/end title theme can be streamed on Evans' MySpace. (There was a lot of terrific original scoring on the tube last night. Besides Evans' Black List score--which is as multifaceted as the range of different black experiences that are captured in the doc--I also enjoyed Jeff Richmond's tinkly "hunting for Liz's boobies picture" theme for piano and flute during the latest 30 Rock.)

The Black List: Vol. 2 interviewees Laurence Fishburne, RZA and Maya RudolphFormer UC Santa Cruz students like myself will get a kick out of The Black List: Vol. 2 because two of the interviewees are from UCSC's past (Angela Davis was a longtime History of Consciousness professor there, and ex-SNLer Maya Rudolph graduated from the Porter part of campus and majored in photography). Also, there are a couple of film music-related bits in Vol. 2 that are noteworthy (no pun intended). Melvin Van Peebles briefly recalls working on the Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song soundtrack with a then-unknown-and-starving band--Earth, Wind & Fire--and in my favorite Vol. 2 segment, Ghost Dog and Afro Samurai composer RZA discusses how he found empowerment through chess tournaments, martial arts flicks like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin ("The Asian history was remarkable and special... That brotherhood right there helped me spawn the brotherhood of the Wu-Tang Clan") and Silver Surfer comics.

Rizz's admiration of Norrin Radd is similar to how many of us Asian American writers and artists have felt empowered through the comics medium, whether it's reading comics about heroes with AA-like experiences and identifying with those characters--even though they're of a different color--or creating comics with actual AA characters like the tales in the Secret Identities anthology (see how I tied it back to Secret Identities? April 14 in stores everywhere). His story about Wu-Tang fans who have asked him during his college lectures why he's not keeping it real and why he's trying to ditch the hood is heartbreaking. Who'd have thought RZA's segment would be the most introspective and moving part of the doc?

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