I Am Not Your Negro (Soundtrack)
I’ve not seen the film yet but I know enough of Baldwin’s work to want to see it and another thing that’s egging me on is this wonderful score. Russian-born composer Alexei Aigui manages a dance between the late-night boozy-woozy jazz of a Mike Figgis film/score and the more stately cries of an Arve Henriksen piece. From cues that evoke Miles Davis (FBI Memorandum) to Terence Blanchard (Friendship Disappeared) this coasts along dreamily, wafting from the speakers. There’s a not to mid-80s Miles (Riots) and to the Figgis work from Leaving Las Vegas (Witness) and of course I can’t comment on how this works within the film but it feels not only right but also it is working as a listening experience completely removed from the film.
A reading from James Baldwin is attached to the track I Can’t Be A Pessimist, or, put another way, a soft, Nick Cave-like piano line coasts along behind Baldwin’s narration; a siren cry of trumpet and delicate brushwork adding to the framing of this spoken-word piece but the rest of the score gathered here, just 27 minutes, is instrumental. Shades, too, of some of John Lurie’s film score work, particularly in the loping jazz of What I’m Trying To Say To This Country and the dramatic, dynamic drum flourishes across Malcolm X Murdered and the closing theme, Unfinished Manuscript.
Until I get to the movie – and then long after – I’ll have this playing in my mind and on my stereo. A wonderful soundtrack album, a superb set of sounds.