Musically Speaking – Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Please join us for Musically Speaking with DJ Soul Sister – A series of music-themed movies and documentaries, curated and hosted by DJ Soul Sister, and co-presented by Press Street, WWOZ and Charitable Film Network.  Free Admission – SEATING IS LIMITED.  For more information, contact

In Detroit, Michigan, 1959, Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from the city’s thriving jazz and blues scene for his new record company: Motown. For the next 14 years these players became the heartbeat on classics like “My Girl,” “Baby Love,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Dancing In The Street,” and every other hit from Motown’s Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, the unheralded group of musicians played on more Number One hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles combined, making them the greatest unknown hit machine in the history of popular music. Two decades after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the musicians, known as the Funk Brothers, reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story. With Chaka Khan, Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Gerald Levert, and more.  (2002, 116 minutes)

Tuesday, July 23
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
(1988, 90 min.)
Expanding on footage of Thelonious Monk’s 1967 tour shot by Christian Blackwood, Charlotte Zwering (Gimme Shelter) has created the definitive filmic portrait of the master bop pianist-composer, digging deep into the life of the famously eccentric pianist-composer. Straight, No Chaser fleshes out Monk’s character considerably – from his harmonic theories to his use of quarter–tones (produced by hitting two adjacent piano keys simultaneously and occasionally even striking the boards with his entire forearm or his foot), to his mysterious relationship with his patron, baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. Monk’s music, naturally, is at the center of this canny portrait, giving fans cause to rejoice since most of the movie’s performances had been previously unavailable in any form.
Tuesday, July 30

Freestyle – The Art of Rhyme
(2005, 75 min.)
A celebration of the role of MC in the hip hop culture, this film documents the history and art of freestyle rap, featuring mainstream icons such as Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur, as well as underground heroes like Common, Black Thought (the Roots) Chali Tuna (Jurassic 5), Mikah 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), and Mos Def (Black Star), not to mention commentary from a historical perspective by Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan of the legendary Last Poets.