Directed by Henri Ferrini
Visit Filmmaker’s Site: ferriniproductions.com
Lester Young was the most influential musician during the period between Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. Billie Holiday gave her favorite player the moniker because he was jazz royalty. King, Count and Duke were taken. Lady Day bestowed upon him the highest office of jazz in America.
Rolling Stone’s founding editor Ralph Gleason said, “If you don’t know Pres, you’ve missed a great part of America.” Pres was born Lester Willis Young in 1909 in a purgatory for African-Americans called Mississippi. He was raised in a nether world between slavery and Jim Crow. Yet in the face of the soul destroying forces of segregation Lester chose beauty. Music was his life. “It was all music, that’s all there was.” In our times the King of Pop would move over for the Pres.
Lester’s pursuit of originality and beauty created a place for culture to flourish. In the jazz clubs of New Orleans, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City and Paris musicians created a listening space that brought all people together. As America evolved this became a community that in 2008 helped elect an African-American President. The mission of the film is to present and preserve LesterYoung’s legacy by rediscovering and interpreting his life through the lens of American culture. To inform a new generation who knows little of this time and the musicians who played jazz on the front lines of a battlefield that still burns.
Henry Ferrini works out of the port city of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Over the last 25 years, much of his work has focused on what Jack Kerouac called, “the great continent of New England.” His interest in cultural geography has taken him to working-class communities throughout the industrial Northeast unearthing material most would overlook. Ferrini’s films do not follow the conventional patterns of a biographical documentary. He employs a lyrical, impressionist approach that allows for greater exploration of the subject’s philosophies, thoughts and ideas. He calls his work “film poems.” This style is manifest in Polis is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place an hour long journey through the poet and filmmaker’s hometown guided by a who’s who in American poetry: Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Vincent Ferrini, John Sinclair, Ed Sanders and John Malkovich.