Yes, to Shades of Jazz on Noir

Yes, yes, yes.

Whenever a woman artist grabs hold of a female stereotype and shakes it out to dry, it’s cause to celebrate. Ana Isabel Ordonez, created a montage of gangsters’ molls and fallen women from the classic noir tradition for a jazz/film event— Shades of Jazz On Noir at Galapagos Art Space on Wednesday, April 15th During the film, Freak Lip Kill Jazz Trio improvised providing drama, pathos, and romance. The women were the same women we’ve all come to love and fear, iconic women; Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead, Janet Leigh, and a very young Simone Signoret. They were tough dames and they meant trouble, with a capital T. But they were also vulnerable. They just needed a strong man.

In the opening scene, a terrified woman runs down a lonely highway; chic and disheveled in a belted trench. Gorgeous and dangerous. It’s classic noir. But instead of the classic soundtrack— a very modern accompaniment of saxophone, bass, and guitar. The marriage of film and music really worked, it played both with and against the genre. Then the screen went blank. The trio stopped playing. The audience heard a woman, a voice-over, telling the tale of a modern day love story. She’s a real woman. She’s not a stereotype. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s sexy. She’s so 21st century. The images are not. The juxtaposition is startling. The performance alternated, back and forth; film/music, then voice-over.

Originally, of course, the noir women were filmed from the male gaze. Ordonez reframes them literally with the montage, the modern voice-over and the music. Alexis Cuadrado on bass led the narrative, along with Brad Shepik’s guitar and Adam Niewood’s saxophone. There was a stunning shot of Lana Turner’s legs— the camera literally caresses them. Then it traveled up those celebrated gams accompanied with a sharp and almost discordant sax solo. Other images included: Rita Hayworth flipping her hair, Lauren Bacall batting her lashes at Bogie, Barbara Stanwyck in a tragic kiss with Glenn Ford. It’s hot stuff, made even hotter with the music.

Galapagos in Dumbo is a gorgeous space; islands of red curved banquettes— floating in shallow pools of water. The maritime theme echoes throughout the cavernous, two story space with state of the art sound and light equipment. The programming is artsy, eclectic, and pop cultural as well. On any given night, there might be a film premiere, nerd speed dating, stripping, or an opera. The ticket prices to these events are very inexpensive. The staff is lovely. The neighborhood is grand.

Today’s guest blogger, LA Slugocki is an award winning writer and producer, has lived in New York City for twenty years.

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