(Un)happy Partners: On Jazz and Independent Film

Daniel Felsenthal at the LARB:

Cassavetes felt galvanized by the looseness and freedom he (mis)read into jazz, which enabled him to make a film with little knowledge or money. At the very least, he shared one quality with Mingus — an ability to bully the people he worked with into doing what he wanted them to do. In a functional sense, both the radical filmmaker and the radical jazz composer were as domineering and rigid as the mainstream structures they railed against.

When Shadows premiered at New York’s Paris Theater in 1958, Cassavetes and most of the attendees considered it a complete failure. Mingus was so mad about the music that he stormed out of the theater and told a fawning photographer to go fuck himself. An early and important champion, Jonas Mekas raved about the film in The Village Voice, writing that it had the power to “influence and change the tone, subject matter, and style of the entire independent American cinema.” Cassavetes spent an exhausting year reworking the movie, before it premiered again at the very end of 1959.

more here.