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October 05, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-05

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily F
Morgan takes new outlook
by Peter Shapiro

riday, October 5, 1990

Page 5

Dreaming a little dream

"Cinderella wasn't shit," is how
Frank Morgan likes to describe his
rebirth after 30 years in San Quentin
for heroin use. After being tauted as
e new Charlie Parker in the late
'40s, then languishing in 30 years of
exiled anonymity, he has been the
subject of a rediscovery of sorts in
the jazz community. In 1986, he ap-
peared at the Village Vanguard in
New York with a completely new
outlook, new sound, new Frank
Morgan.
. Morgan hopes to spread his new-
ound joy in the glory of life when
e plays his alto sax. Abandoning
the reliance on fecility around the
keys that he learned from his classi-
-_cal training, Morgan's alto playing
4-is very reminiscent of some of the
great tenor players. His tone is Ben
'Websteresque in its incredible breath-
iness which is what gives his play-
ing its tenderness and compassion.
His ballads are intended to "send the
udience home so that they feel like
issing their kids, bringing out their
optimism in themagnificence of
life," he says.
S &His new attitude isn't the cheesy
,posturing of some charlatan hoping
4t capitalize on his new opportunity
,outside the penitentiary. Morgan's
conception of jazz is similar to that
3 bf some ancient Taoist sage - "It
bshould flow, don't think about it,
ms's natural." It's the creator that
ngives him his optimism as well as
. his masterful improvisational abil-
' Ity. Like Charlie Parker and Johnny
Hodges, the man he replaced in Duke
jEllington's band, he is capable of
singing endless variations of the
:Iblues on his sax. "Jazz is not cere-
;touching solos perfectly. In a setting

Fantasia
Created by Walt
Disney
by Jen Bilik
M any of you who saw Fanta-
sia as a child will probably re-
member the Mickey Mouse se-
quence as the whole film. It's
surprising that this comprises
only about a tenth of the movie,
and is somewhat disappointing as
well. Fantasia's adult claim to
fame is that it was the first film
ever released with stereophonic
sound. In recording Fantasia,
Walt Disney pioneered stereo
sound, calling it "Fantasound." It
seems fairly obvious now that the
film was a vehicle for the new
technology because the emphasis
lies most definitely on the audio
portion of the film. Although
Fantasia was innovative in its
exploration of music as visual
image, the advances in animation
since its initial release make the
visuals seem fairly crude.
Fantasia premiered in 1940
and played in only 14 theaters be-
cause stereo soundtrack necessi-

tated special sound equipment.
The film has undergone an exten-
sive restoration process to clean
and reassemble a master print. Al-
though the film itself still im-
presses in its ability to meld the
visual with the audio, creating a
sort of music for the sight, it's
disappointingly difficult for the
viewer of the '90s to appreciate
because it falls short in compari-
son to contemporary music
videos and high-tech animation.
Next to The Little Mermaid,
Fantasia 's animation looks flat
and dull.
Disney collaborated with con-
ductor Leopold Stokowski, and
he's one of the main characters in
what is essentially a non-narrative
film without characters. A com-
mentator explains that there are
three kinds of music: story mu-
sic, music for its own sake and
absolute music. The orchestra and
the image set out to demonstrate
each one, progressively moving
from image to story.
The first sequence is absolute
music. With Bach's Toccata and
Fugue in D minor, Fantasia pairs
masses of colors and images,
without the cute dancing mush-

rooms or the stories of later se-
quences. Silhouettes of the or-
chestra appear, and each instru-
ment lights up as it plays, as if
the music had some visible life
force. Further into the film, the
pure visualization of music is in-
troduced. "Meet the soundtrack,"
says the narrator. "Sound as pic-
ture." The corresponding image is
a line of sound, like the lines on
hospital monitors that register vi-
tal functions. This represents the
purest form of visual sound,
sound that can be scientifically
registered for the eyes. In explic-
itly introducing the viewer to
sound, Fantasia's personification
of its music is fitting - the mu-
sic plays the starring role, both
technologically and thematically.
The film suffers because of its
disjointed nature; it consists of
animated, figurative skits that
bear no relation to each other ei-
ther narratively or thematically.
Each sequence could be an indi-
vidual cartoon. The sequences
themselves, however, definitely
point to Disney at his most cre-
ative. Disney's mastery at creat-
ing fantasy worlds in which ani-
See FANTASIA, page 9.

Frank Morgan and his sax express a long life of jazz.

C

bral music, it's heart music," he ex-
plains, just as the blues is not sad
music, it's music of profound joy
and transcendence.
This beautiful sense of awe and
reverence soars out of his music like
the angels that saved him from a life
of addiction. He will be playing to-
morrow night with pianist George
Cables whose ethereal flights across
the keyboards play off Morgan's

as intimate and communal as the
Ark, Frank Morgan will be able to
spread the joy as easily as the most
powerful gospel singer.
THE FRANK MORGAN D U O
plays at the Ark tomorrow at 8 p.m.
and 10p.m. Tickets are $15, $12.50
for students. Morgan will also give
a free workshop tomorrow in the
Michigan Union Anderson Room at
4 p.m.
HE DOESN'T WRITE FOR
ARTS.
You can. Call 763-0379.

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