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Friday, May 31 2013 | 00:33
Image: 1580399 Over two years in the making, Mirror to the Soul is a new documentary film about the Caribbean, a unique collaboration between Soul Jazz Records and British Pathé, made up entirely of newsreel footage (short news pieces of two or three minutes in length) filmed during the period 1922-1970.

British Pathé was established in London in 1910 to produce newsreels screened in cinemas throughout Britain before main feature films. In the 1950s, to compete with the new medium of television, Pathé began adding entertainment, cultural, musical and educational stories to hard news items. Pathé eventually closed production in 1970 after accumulating over 3,500 hours of documentary history and Soul Jazz Records/Films were given full access to these film vaults for the making of this new film.

As well as offering an insight into aspects of West Indian life, the film allows us to see how a private British film company presented a Caribbean identity to the outside world. Consequently the film tells us as much about British society and its own identity and values - especially in regard to attitudes towards its colonies and former-colonies - as it does those of the Caribbean itself.

The relationship between the Caribbean and Britain is explored through features and footage of the onward diaspora of West Indians to the ‘motherland’, from the fascinating footage of the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948 (including an interview with new arrival Lord Kitchener) to racial troubles and more.

This film presents many aspects of Caribbean life to the viewer. From Calypsonians to banana plantations, from Voodoo ceremonies to revolutionaries, as well as hurricanes, stingrays and flying fish, colonialism and independence, water diving, carnival – all presented together here into a uniquely fascinating document.

As well as the West Indian islands this film also includes footage of Venezuela, Belize, Colombia and Florida, USA, which form the wider Caribbean region. It documents the changing relationship between a number of islands and their friends or enemies - such as, for instance with Cuba and the USA – as we see with footage from the Cuban revolution onwards.

“A compelling work which looks to situate the history of the Caribbean as a part of the history of Britain. It provokes questions of national identity, authorship and representation. In using a non-chronological structure, the film takes on new meaning as a kaleidoscopic, Chris Marker-esque investigation of memory. A powerful, jigsaw-like testament to the beauty and importance of archive footage.”
British Film Institute

Music CD 1: CD One: Caribbean Jump-Up, Mambo and Calypso Beat 1954-77
Big sounds from small islands! This album is a whistle-stop musical journey through the Caribbean stopping off at Trinidad, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and more along the way as Caribbean Jump-Up, Mambo and Calypso Beat all feature in this upfront selection of heavyweight Caribbean dance tunes from 1954-77! Includes loads of killer ska, mambo and latin jazz, calypso, tropical funk and more. Artists include Irakere, Cachao, Slim Smith, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Edmundo Ros, Lord Flea, Techniques, Carlos Malcolm, Count Ossie and more!

BONUS Music CD Two: Afro-Caribbean Music Up From The Roots 1994-2013
Soul Jazz Records have been recording Afro-Caribbean music for the last 15 years, travelling to and documenting roots styles in the Caribbean region. This authentic Afro-Caribbean music is at the source of many popular styles of today and the album is a selection of Soul Jazz Records’ productions and includes music from Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Guadeloupe and Belize.

Featured here are Caribbean music styles all of which have a 600-year connection with Africa as their heartbeat, with music - especially the drum - a spiritually significant link to the heritage of much of the West Indies.

Whilst popular music in the Caribbean has produced many new styles such as reggae in Jamaica, calypso in Trinidad, salsa and mambo in Cuba, zouk in Martinique and Guadeloupe, Afro-Caribbean roots music remains a constant throughout. This music retains its power today - a musical concept both forward looking and creative as well as remaining steeped in tradition.

This album includes 21st century recordings of Haitian Voodoo and Rara music, Cuban Santeria and Latin Jazz, Gwo-Ka from Guadeloupe, Paranda and Dugu from Belize and more besides in this fascinating journey through some of the many roots musical styles of the Afro-Caribbean. Available from 10.05.2013
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