The Good Works of Duke Performances

Friday night in New York: Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait with music by Jenny Scheinman and video by Finn Taylor based on the work of H. Lee Waters. It’s at the Met; the website has an intriguing blurb:

Live music performance Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait is a kind of time machine that will transport you into the lives of ordinary people living in the South during the Great Depression. Based on the work of nearly forgotten photographer H. Lee Waters, Kannapolis weaves some of the hundreds of short, silent films he shot of daily life in small towns across Virginia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas (including Kannapolis, NC); into a compelling tapestry of a moment in time. Composer/singer/violinist Jenny Scheinman and filmmaker Finn Taylor have shaped Waters’s shorts into a truly “moving” portrait. The original films’ subjects got to see themselves on the silver screen when Waters presented his short films at the local movie house. Today’s audiences will experience a shivery echo of that long-ago thrill.

I know Scheinman’s excellent artistry from Bill Frisell and her own records and really wish I could attend.

Kannapolis was commissioned by Duke Performances at Duke University, which has possibly done more than anybody in recent years to give jazz and improvising musicians a chance at a bigger canvas. TBP’s own Rite of Spring and Science Fiction projects were the product of Duke Performances. Last year I nearly made a special trip to check out Gerald Clayton’s Piedmont Blues, which got rave reviews.