Author: Ella Tanqueray

Milford Graves – Full Mantis

“Man, that’s me up there on that screen – that’s what I’m about.”  Full Mantis, the feature-length documentary honouring the work of avant-garde percussionist Milford Graves, is a kaleidoscopic portrait of an enigmatic, curious and mythic figure. As a student of Graves for fifteen years, director and producer Jake Meginsky has an understanding with his subject that lends a beautiful empathy to the film. As Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth expressed, Meginsky and his co-director Neil Young, have tapped into Graves’ very particular sonic vocabulary. The pair has managed a rare thing in creating a music documentary that takes on the form of a musical piece. The narrative progresses with hypnotic rhythm, aided by the soundtrack of Milford’s percussion. As a pioneer of the New York free jazz movement and a master of polyrhythms, Graves’ sound, at times, makes for complex listening. We see footage of performances where Graves yells over the thrashing of the drums. Meginsky has said, “We both approached the material in an intuitive, rhythmic way in order to inject the film with the same sense of …