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November 25, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-25

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Tuesday
November 25, 2003

RTS

5

r

Documentary honors
local organization

By Katie Maril Gates
and Sarah Peterson
Daily Arts Editors

According to the new documen-
tary, "Breaking the Sound Barrier,"
only 1 to 3 percent of orchestral play-
ers nationwide are Black or Hispanic.
This shocking statistic prompted Uni-
versity graduate Aaron Dworkin to
create the Sphinx Organization for
African American and Latino Musi-

cians, in order for
them to take the
stage and change
the norms.
The organiza-
tion consists of a
symphony
orchestra com-
prised of the top
minority string

Breaking
the Sound
Barrier
Tonight at
9 p.m.
Detroit Public
Television

players from across the United
States and the Sphinx Competition,
which allows young Black or His-
panic students to compete and play
with the Sphinx Symphony Orches-
tra. The competition is held each
year in Ann Arbor and Detroit and is
open to junior high through college-
age musicians.
Now in its seventh year, Detroit
Public Television has created a docu-
mentary to capture the hard work and
dedication behind the breathtaking
music of the Sphinx Organization.
As the documentary begins, a
beautiful violin concerto, with a
lone violin singing out above the
delicate melodies of the accompany-
ing symphony, immediately captures
the imagination. Then, an image
illuminates the screen and the dream
becomes even more surreal as the
magnificent music is shown to be
issuing from a girl in her teens.
With the ringing of the climactic
note though, it is clear that the
dream actually belongs to this girl,
and that this film is a documenta-
tion of her dream made real.
Featured in the documentary are
several of the devoted young per-

formers including violinist Melissa
White who won the first-place lau-
reate award in the Sphinx Competi-
tion at age 16. She speaks of her
life-long love of music even as a
child, she was driven to practice
rather than play with friends. It is
this kind of hard work that the
Sphinx Organization honors.
Also included are comments from
Sphinx performers about their expe-
riences as minority players in pre-
dominantly white orchestras around
the nation. The first Black musician
in the New York Philharmonic, San-
ford Arlen, speaks of his love for
classical music and the great oppor-
tunities of the Sphinx Organization.
Set to air exclusively on Detroit
Public Television, the Sphinx Orga-
nization is also working to receive
national airtime on PBS. The docu-
mentary will be followed by the
Sphinx Symphony Orchestra con-
cert from last February and is cer-
tainly a testament to the amazing
presentations of Detroit Public Tele-
vision. In a time when network TV
is often a let-down, this alternative
shines with intriguing documen-
taries and original series to educate
and entertain audiences starving for
quality programming.
While this film reminds us to
dream and that anything is possible,
its real shining quality is the sound-
track. Backed with classical music,
all produced by the Sphinx Sympho-
ny Orchestra and the competitors,
the take-home message of the docu-
mentary sounds in the pieces per-
formed. The film and the
competition itself exist to give
young Black and Hispanic string
players the opportunity to progress
in their musical careers. After hear-
ing the masterful music emanating
from this symphony, any questions
of whether or not these cultures love
and can perform classical pieces are
quelled. They do and they can, and
eventually, with the continued work
of the Sphinx Organization, the old
stereotypes that orchestras are only
for white males will be dispelled.

Courtesy of
Universal
Dance,
Angel.
Dance.
By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer
If you ask her, Jessica Alba will say that she can't
work a fax machine for her life, but she can bust a
move. Director Billie Woodruff's new film "Honey"
surely proves this. Centered on the hip-hop world in
New York City, Alba stars as Honey Daniels, a strug-
gling choreographer who learns what's really impor-
tant in life, just as soon as she gets her big break.
At the young age of 22, Alba's only noteworthy
lead role has been in the cancelled series "Dark
Angel." Now with an entire film resting on her petite
shoulders, she's thankful for her experience. "'Dark
Angel' certainly prepared me for 'Honey.' That was a
big job," Alba said recently during a promotional
stop in Birmingham. "Each episode was $2.3 mil-
lion, which was a bigger risk. (In 'Honey') there's
definitely pressure in every scene. I'm worried that
people will get sick of me."
Aside from the getting a chance to make her lead-
ing debut in a major film, Alba decided to make
"Honey" to show off her dancing chops. "It was so
much fun. I used to try and do all the dance moves to

Madonna and Paula Abdul when I was younger. And
finally I got to become a dancer."
"Honey's" choreographer, Laurie Ann Gibson,
also plays the character Katrina, Honey's rival
dancer. Gibson prepared Alba for the film with bal-
let, jazz and hip-hop classes. Although Alba did
have a dance double, when it came down to the
final cut, only three seconds of the professional
dancer was used.
Besides the significance of the dancing, Alba also
wanted "Honey" to mean something, and the film's
initial message didn't accomplish that. "Originally
(Honey) rode a motorcycle [which is quickly becom-
ing Alba's trademark], but that's so cliche. Nobody in
New York City who's struggling is riding a freakin'
motorcycle." With motorcycle in tow, Honey wasn't
intended to be a literal description of her sweet
name. "First it was about a real tough girl - wilin'
out. But how can anyone have empathy for this girl
when she's beating people up? You can't connect
with that. What is that energy?"
Not only did Alba have trouble identifying with
Honey's original character, but also with the notion
of nudity, which has been her biggest pressure. "I've

NY icon bids farewell with dynamic Black LP

had directors that have wanted me to get naked. They
always want to throw in a sex scene." For a girl who
has graced covers of various magazines in racy out-
fits and has topped Maxim's hottest babe list several
times, one would think she would be comfortable in
her own skin. But Alba is adamant about keeping her
clothes on.
Even wearing booty shorts in one of "Honey's"
many dance scenes, Alba was uncomfortable. "That
freaked me out. I told Billie, I don't know if I can do
this. The shorts are so short and my whole stomach
is showing ... I was on stage and there were all these
cameras in my face. And all of a sudden there were
way more crew members - like the drivers. I didn't
want to leave my trailer." So Woodruff, sensitive to
Alba's fears, like any professional gave her an
Incredible Hulk (a drink with Courvoisier) to ease
the tension.
Despite the character changes Alba made to the
originally vapid script, "Honey" should be taken at
face value. "I want you to be entertained. That's all
it's really about. So tell all your friends to go see it
because if this doesn't do well, I don't know if I'll be
in another movie!"

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Even after mainstream's new poster
boy, 50 Cent, moved his G-Unit album
up to challenge Jay-Z's release date, Jay
outsold 50 by nearly 100,000 copies as
well as beating out a new Tupac CD to

debut at No. 1 on
the Billboard chart
-another notch
onto the legendary
career of Sean
Carter.
With a career
marked by brag-

Jay-Z
The Black
Album
Rock-a-fella

videos and no guest appearances, The
Black Album is a somewhat different
product. This is made clear by the Nep-
tunes-produced club single and video
"Change Clothes," an ode to the
nightlife and runways in NYC.
As far as the theme, Jay-Z stays true.
The feeling of finality pervades the
entire album and it makes for an inter-
esting listen. It's still a slight detraction
that by track three he's already saying
goodbye. We know you're leaving, just
make music.
The final production list is slightly
less balanced than advertised, but still
incredible as Kanye West, the Neptunes
and Just Blaze produce two tracks each
while hip-hop mainstays such as Dr.
Dre and DJ Premier don't make the
final listing. The newcomers shine as
Aqua and Buchanan lace some surpris-
ingly good beats, while some of the vet-
eran efforts are lackluster. The
Timbaland beat is too heavy and DJ
Quik's "Justify My Thug" sounds
forced. Eminem's production skills

employs a new whisper-like delivery on
several tracks, showing his continuing
growth. On tracks like "December 4th"
Jay sheds his bravado and gives one of
his most personal songs to date. His
lyrics, at times, are more intimate and
confessional than ever, and the writing
is his most immediate. The most fasci-
nating and controversial track is his
self-deconstruction on "Moment of
Clarity," where he basically explains
that he dumbed down his style because
it sold more.
What really brings this album down
is that at moments it feels like Jay's sen-
ior dissertation as to why he is the
greatest rapper ever, and it sounds more
insecure than definitive. Imagine Hen-
drix restating his guitar expertise
onstage or Jordan proclaiming his
greatness at every press conference.
Just play. Regardless, Jay has no reason
to go, and you can't help but wish that
Jay has an MJ-like retirement and
comes back with the conscious under-
ground album that he has in him.

gadocio, mainstream love, street accept-
ance and a confidence that many
rappers flaunt but rarely back up, many
wondered what Jay was going to do for
his purported final album. Originally
setting out to create a true black album
with little promotion, a different pro-
ducer for each song, no singles, no

seem to have topped out as his beats
share one sound. Pharrell chips in a hot
club beat on "Change Clothes," though
it seems phoned in.
Lyrically Jay shows no signs of a
punch-drunk veteran struggling to keep
up, as he is at the top of his form. At
this point of his career he knows song
structure, melodies and hooks better
than most, which has contributed to his
consistency and longevity. He even

Spears seeks comeback with In the Zone

By Brandon Harig
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVIEW

After a string of moderately
cessful releases accompanied

suc-
by a

highly publicized
throb Justin Tim-
berlake, pop icon
Britney Spears
once again needs
your attention.
Coming off of a
recent hiatus
from the music

split from heart-
Britney
Spears
In the Zone
Jive Records

Against the Music" signals Spears'
homecoming as she whispers and
moans over a schizophrenic beat,
emulating an inherent sense of
urgency. Featuring elder pop-idol
Madonna, the track is a cookie-cutter
design of what has become expected
of Spears' radio singles.
Boasting a lengthy list of collabo-
rators including fellow R&B star R.
Kelly, Atlanta's prodigal sons the
Ying Yang Twins and pop-induced
producers the Matrix, In the Zone is
Spears' most eclectic release to date.
"(I got that) Boom Boom" blends
Spear's towering alto with the course
rhymes of the Ying Yang Twins in a
genre-blending onslaught that ranks
among her best tracks.
Despite these successes, Spears,

much like her mentor Madonna, doesn't
know where to stop. "Shadow" contains
a grating chorus that the Matrix have
used before. The controversial "Touch
Of My Hand," a song featuring Spears'
views on masturbation, is truly ignor-
able. The hushed singing and overt
R&B background track, intended to
make the lyrics sound sexy and inti-
mate, simply cannot mask the fact the
song carries nothing more than imme-
diate shock-value. The CD's ballads
expose Britney's voice as her own
worst enemy.
There is an underlying sexuality
behind In The Zone. Lyrics like "I
don't really wanna be a tease / Would
you undo my zipper, please?" make it
much too clear what direction Spears
is headed. Spears is working toward a

more "adult sound," leaving both bub-
blegum pop and virginal innocence
behind. A cross of European techno
and modern hip-hop, In The Zone is a
decent album which proves Britney
should ditch her attempts at being a
respectable vocalist and allow the pro-
ducers to make the magic happen.

Iggy reunites
Wit Stooges
on Skull Ring
By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
REVIEW
What's left to say about Iggy Pop?
The self-proclaimed godfather of
garage rock and pioneer of Detroit's
hardest rocking band of ne'er do'
wells the Stooges has been marred
recently by a string of unsuccessful
and uninspired releases. On his latest,
however, Iggy finds himself returning
to the studio with
a handful of new,P
blistering songs as ggy op
well as a few Skull Ring
friends, most Virgin Records
notably former
Stooges Scott and Ron Asheton for
the first time since the charismatic
Raw Power released in 1973.
Skull Ring shows the many faces

industry, Spears returns to the lime-
light with her critically hyped fourth
album, In the Zone.
The industrial dance-fueled "Me

feeling that elder songs like "Search
and Destroy" once encapsulated.
Other Stooge-backed tracks "Skull
Ring" and "Dead Rock Star" display
how the Asheton brothers have grown
as musicians even as Iggy's lyricism
has drastically fallen.
For decades, Iggy has claimed that
the Stooges, while recording in the
studio, were constantly attempting to
capture the vigor of their live show.
On stage, Iggy had a swagger that was
unlike any others in his class. He
moved like a serpent, his bare torso
protruding through the distorted gui-
tars that laid waste to another song

Pop-punk freshmen offer Brand New experience in Detroit
By Michelle Kjek servedly been the target of this categorical demoli- Jake at the Warped Tour, and touring with Dash.
Daily Arts Writer tion. Five months since they released their second board Confessional, Brand New has had ample

-e

CONCERT PREVIEW

record, Deja Entendu, Jesse Lacey, guitarist, says, "I
think more than anything we're trying to shy away

instruction on how to reach their potential. Com-
menting on the tutorial presence of Dashboard's

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