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Passing Through

A trio of jazz musicians.
August 26, 2022 - 7:30 pm
Q&A with filmmaker Larry Clark.

Passing Through

U.S., 1977

Frequently hailed as one of the best jazz movies ever made, Passing Through opens with what may be the most exciting seven minutes in American cinema as a jazz ensemble riffing through a series of improvisations fuses into an abstract collage of color, sound and movement. What follows is both an homage—Larry Clark dedicates the film to “Hebert Baker and other Black Musicians known and unknown”—and a setting straight through the story of Womack (Nathaniel Taylor), a saxophonist who returns home from a prison stint to reconnect with his mentor and grandfather, a legendary musician and pick up the pieces of his life. Sent up for defending a fellow Black musician from white gangsters who control the music industry through violence, Womack again finds himself fighting for the right to create on his own terms. With an astonishing score composed by Horace Tapscott and performed by The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, Passing Through celebrates—and, indeed, embodies—Black artistry while exposing the racist historical forces aligned to exploit it.

16mm, color, 111 min. Director: Larry Clark. Screenwriter: Larry Clark, Ted Lange. With: Nathaniel Taylor, Clarence Muse, Pamela Jones.

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