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The Great Flood A Film by Bill Morrison Music composed and performed by Bill Frisell With Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen


Fox Movietone University of South Carolina Newsfilm Library
The Great Flood
A Film by Bill Morrison
Music composed and performed by Bill Frisell
With Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen
Sat, Mar 31, 2012 8 PM
See special traffic and parking info below.

"Creatively restless, Frisell is best suited for exploring vast territory and responding with imaginative integrity."–Billboard

The latest Wex-commissioned project involving guitarist/composer Bill Frisell is this special collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Morrison specializes in evocative cinematic constructions of archival images, utilizing their scratchy, distressed emulsion to great poetic effect, often in collaboration with leading composers ranging from Michael Gordon for Decasia to Dave Douglas for Spark of Being. For this joint effort, Frisell and Morrison focus on the Great Flood of 1927, a natural catastrophe that sparked a transformation of American society and music.

The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in American history. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its earthen embankments in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles. The disaster became a major force in spurring the Great Migration of rural sharecroppers to northern industrial cities. The migrants took their music with them, triggering the evolution of acoustic country blues into urban electric blues, then R&B, rock, and jazz.

Frisell's elegiac and emotionally charged all-original score for The Great Flood is performed with his stellar trio featuring Tony Scherr on bass and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Their research for the project included a trip by Morrison, Frisell, and the band to the Mississippi valley in the spring of 2010, coincidentally at the same time that the largest flood since 1927 struck the same area. Seeing this recent flood firsthand greatly informed the musicians' and filmmaker's feeling for the terrain of the Mississippi valley and enhanced their understanding of the Great Flood's impact on the lives of those in its path.

On the same trip, Morrison was able to capture an array of contemporary digital imagery that introduces the film and frames the immersion in actual footage of the 1927 flood (including source material from the Fox Movietone Archive and the Pathé collection) that follows. Because the footage from 1927 was shot on volatile nitrate stock, what remains is pock marked and partially deteriorated. The degraded footage and distorted images emerging from nitrate prints suggest different planes or layers of reality: lived, dreamed, and remembered. The bubbles and washes of decaying footage convey the destructive force of rising water, with the footage seeming to have been bathed in the same water as the images depicted on it. As the film comes together with Frisell's music, The Great Flood offers potent images of a remarkable story, seen through a prism of history but propelled by the sound of modern music.

Please note: Trumpeter Ron Miles, previously announced as part of the band for this performance, will not appear due to illness.

More Morrison Films
See other examples of Morrison's innovative film work at the Wexner Center March 29 when we'll be screening The Miner's Hymns and several shorts.

The Great Flood was commissioned by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (world premiere); Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University; Carnegie Hall; Symphony Center Presents, Chicago; and Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College.

The Great Flood was commissioned through Meet The Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.

Additional support made possible by USA Projects, an online initiative of United States Artists.

Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Please allow extra time for traffic and parking for this show.

Due to construction on campus, there is currently no access from Lane Avenue to Cannon Drive via Tuttle Park Place. Instead, take Fyffe Road to Woody Hayes Drive to Cannon Drive.

Some of the
parking spaces closest to Drake Center in the Ohio Stadium lot are closed due to construction. There are plenty of other spaces in the stadium lot and the lot directly across the street from Drake Center/Thurber Theatre.
PARKING UPDATE: Construction at 15th and High. For more information click here.

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