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Switch & Will (Music Video Version)

Switch at Will -- the song from Wild Billi's eponymous album now has a music video!. This music video is a breezy three minutes of gender subversion and diversity celebration!

Directed and produced by: Whit Frazier. The video contains two Walt Disney clips, now in the public domain: the 1928 silent version of “Plane Crazy” as well as “Steamboat Willie,” also from 1928; it also contains clips in the public domain downloaded from the website Credit to the artists whose clips were used is mentioned at the end of the video. They are:

Antoni Shkraba
Cottonbro Studios
George Morina
Pat Whelan
Rodnae Productions
Toni Martinez
Victoria Slowikowska

Harlem Mosaics now has a Spotify playlist. You don't need to have read the novel to dig the playlist. It's blues, jazz, zydeco, spirituals, jubilee, Bahamian, Cuban and classical music from the 1920s and 1930s.

The playlist follows the sequential events in the book like a movie soundtrack, so listening from start to finish (two hours) in some ways evokes the story of the novel (and the way music changes between 1927 and 1931), but it’s also a blast to listen to on shuffle!

Where possible, recordings have been used that would have been available to the characters during those heady years of experimental modernism, Black and white. The way some well-known pieces were conceived and interpreted at the time can be surprising!

This is a Spotify playlist that collects the songs that are associated with each of the short poems in Amiri Baraka’s long poetic sequence Wise, Why’s, Y’s. We have tried to be as faithful to Baraka’s prompts as possible; this was not always possible given Spotify’s shortcomings as well as our own inability to locate certain tracks. Where we have been unable to find exactly what we were looking for, we have taken it upon ourselves to “improvise.” For the most part, we have tried to use tracks that adhere closely to what Baraka mentions.

The playlist also includes tracks to evoke the “PRE-HERE/ISTIC” sequence at the beginning of the poem. Baraka has said that this is “a long introduction that includes drums and so forth that I usually make with my mouth” (Leonard Schwartz, “The New Babel” 99), but we figured we would try to find pieces that would evoke Baraka’s ideas. To that end, we have used “Comet Ride” by the Willie Williams Trio, which features jazz drummer Rudy Walker for “DAT”; we have used “Space Spy” by Grachan Moncur for DEUCE (which calls for “Space Spy” by Grachan Moncur); we have used “Omo Ode” by Nigerian percussionist Ade Bashorun for TREY (“the Dun Dun”); we have used Baraka’s own “Who Will Survive America” for “FO,” or the under water African funeral music; and we have used a version of the Howard University chamber choir singing “Wade in the Water” for FT. The intro, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” seems well-represented by Louis Armstrong, especially by the solo midway through.

Sweet & Sour: Harlem Mosaics at Eatonville Restaurant

This is a short film produced from an evening at Eatonville Restaurant in Washington, DC on April 28th, 2013. The event was part of Eatonville's 'Food and Folklore' series -- a series of live events at the restaurant that celebrated African American culture in all its diversity and richness. On this particular evening, the author reads from Harlem Mosaics, and engages in a discussion about the friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes with the audience members, the host Pamela Pinnock, and the moderator and owner of Eatonville Restaurant, Andy Shallal. The film (a youtube link) takes the form of a hybrid documentary/ education video/ live recording.

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