Canada’s Michael Snow is generally regarded as one of the two or three most important experimental filmmakers in the history of the form, and while his talent as an improvising musician is hardly secret, it's usually overshadowed by his cinematic reputation. (He's known best to music fans for his 1964 film New York Eye & Ear Control, which featured a bracing soundtrack by free jazz heavies like Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Don Cherry.) Snow arrives in town this week for two evenings of screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center, as part of the Conversations at the Edge series.
On Thursday, February 8, Snow will present Wavelength and Back and Forth, followed on Friday night by a new video piece called Reverberlin, with sound by his long running improv group CCMC (Canadian Creative Music Collective), which these days includes John Oswald and Paul Dutton. This assemblage has a long if obscure history, releasing a slew of hard-to-find records during the 70s. But Snow has spent five decades traveling all over the musical map, and the pianist was initially taken by straight-ahead jazz. A fascinating track on the compilation Eye & Ear—assembled in conjunction with a show at Corbett Vs. Dempsey a couple years back—found him playing with the legendary clarinetist Pee Wee Russell. During Friday’s program Snow will offer a survey of his musical endeavors and discuss various aspects of his work. Snow’s La Region Centrale will also screen on Saturday, February 12 at 2 PM, although the filmmaker won’t be in attendance.