Milford Graves Full Mantis

MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS had its Tennessee premiere at this year’s Big Ears Festival, and we’re very excited to be screening this unique documentary in Chattanooga. By no means a typical “music documentary”, this film will be of interest to educators, medical practitioners, martial arts enthusiasts, dancers, and anyone with an interest in the rhythm of life and the human spirit. Co-produced with the Shaking Ray Levi Society.

MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is the first ever feature-length portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.

Graves has performed internationally since 1964, both as a soloist and in ensembles with such legends as Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan and Sonny Sharrock. He is a founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz, and he remains one of the most influential living figures in the evolution of the form.

The film draws the viewer through the artist’s lush garden and ornate home, into the martial arts dojo in his backyard and the laboratory in his basement – all of this just blocks from where he grew up in the housing projects of South Jamaica, Queens.

Graves tells stories of discovery, struggle and survival, ruminates on the essence of ‘swing,’ activates electronic stethoscopes in his basement lab to process the sound of his heart, and travels to Japan where he performs at a school for children with autism, igniting the student body into an ecstatic display of spontaneous collective energy.

Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances from around the globe, MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS is cinema full of fluidity, polyrhythm and intensity, embodying the essence of Graves’ music itself.

“One of the best jazz documentaries ever assembled… a singular viewing experience.”
Byron Coley, The Wire : Adventures In Modern Music

“The musician Milford Graves is a rare example of a truly holistic artist. This stunning documentary, directed by Jake Meginsky with the assistance of Neil Young (a musician, but no relation to the rock star) does not offer anything like a conventional biography or career trajectory of the percussionist, who was and continues to be a unique force in jazz.”
New York Times

“Rhythmically right on.”
Rolling Stone

Watch the Trailer

Full Mantis Website