The 1971 release of Melvin Van Peebles "Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song" was a cinematic milestone on multiple levels — not least being the making of the film itself.
"Sweetback" was shot in nineteen frenetic days on the run from industry unions and police poised to shut the production down.
Within months of release, "Sweetback" became the most successful independent feature in American film history.
In every aspect of representing Black communal culture and radical resistance, "Sweetback" was a breakthrough work of protest-art and soul.
Van Peebles composed the score himself and got a band of upstarts he met through his secretary to play his tunes for the soundtrack. That group, uncredited on the vinyl release, became more well-known a couple years later as Earth Wind & Fire.
Van Peebles driving, tuneful score and psychedelic sound design blended many genres in ways that influenced the great soundtracks which followed by Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown and Willie Hutch—albeit in many mediocre Hollywood attempts to recreate Sweetback’s artful auteurist magic during the so-called Blaxploitation era.
On May 30th, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber will be once again “caramelizing" Van Peebles compositions while a silent screening of "Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song" is projected onto the Town Hall stage. Performing a live score remix that will draw on both the 1971 original and the 2010 operatic scores. Actors will read from the original script while BSAC surgically operates on Van Peebles' music via their remixological deployment of the late Butch Morris’ patented “Conduction" system for improvising ensembles.
This show will be 18+