Robert Mugge



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Music Films and Documentaries


"To describe the recent films of the documentarian Robert Mugge as cultural reference books doesn’t mean to imply that these explorations of the musical byways of Southern rural America are lacking in pungent musical sap. It’s the careful balance between music and scholarship that lends Mr. Mugge’s films a foundation of academic seriousness that flirts with dryness without becoming mired in trivia. Documents of a flourishing below-the-radar culture, often involving older musicians who won’t be around much longer, they are archival records as well as entertainments. For every obscure blues or folk musician shown performing in his films, there is usually an expert standing by to explain where this artist or group stands on the family tree of American vernacular music. Instead of concentrating on the trunk and larger branches of that tree, Mr. Mugge likes to examine the smaller branches and even the twigs.”
-- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"Filmmaker Robert Mugge has, during the past 25 years, established himself as the cinema’s foremost music documentarian, with a career that includes more than 20 features chronicling individual performers (Al Green, Sun Ra, Rubén Blades) and various musical styles (blues, reggae, bluegrass, etc.)...the cinematic equivalent of the work of important ethnomusicologists like Alan Lomax.”"
-- Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

"Years from now, when...filmmaker Robert Mugge leaves behind his remarkable legacy of priceless documentation... musicologists, cultural historians and just plain folks are going to hail Mugge as a national treasure. Retrospectives of his work will stretch into the future, providing a timeless record  of artistic expression and pure entertainment. Just as Alan Lomax made and preserved valuable recordings of Mississippi Delta blues, Mugge has been traversing the continent for more than 20 years,  capturing the music of America - the music that really matters - on 16mm color film, as performed  by the masters of their chosen forms." 
-- Jeff Shannon, The Seattle Times

"The prevalence of documentaries about musicians is a curse, because most of these films do a terrible job of showcasing music. One rare exception is the work of the director Robert Mugge, whose film íSun Ra: A Joyful Noise' one of the most satisfying portraits Iíve ever seen. An extraordinary documentary. Revelatory." 
-- Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"Throughout an illustrious quarter-century career dating back to 16mm docus on George Crumb, Sun Ra, Al Green, Ruben Blades, Sonny Rollins and many others, Mugge's movies have been more about the combustible mix of forceful personalities and powerful music than surface gloss."
-- Eddie Cockrell, Variety

"Over the past 25 years, documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge has established himself as the foremost chronicler of American music, hailed for his insightful portrayals of such enigmatic figures as Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron and Sonny Rollins. He (has) also created sympathetic documentaries on various roots music scenes."
-- Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

"The films of Robert Mugge…honor the singular worldviews of their subjects and the important sounds through which they expressed their hearts and minds."
-- Matt R. Lohr, JazzTimes Magazine

"Robert Mugge has made a string of fascinating documentaries...all are unforgettable portraits of living and working artists."
-- Ron Holloway, Variety

"Robert Mugge has built a formidable reputation on his sympathetic but insightful portrayals of a variety of musical scenes."
-- Lynn Van Matre, Chicago Tribune

"Mugge...has written, produced and directed a string of magnificent documentary films that are nothing short of wondrous in their purity." 
-- Craig Marine, San Francisco Examiner Magazine

"Mugge...(has) made a career of getting the beating heart of great American roots music at its most soulful and authentic on film." 
-- Ted Drozdowski, The Boston Phoenix

"Mugge has produced a string of sometimes brilliant and always entertaining and thought-provoking documentary films on a wide variety of musical styles."
-- Terry Perkins, The Riverfront Times (St. Louis)

"A Robert Mugge film...means a deftly wrought blend of background, profile and performance...riveting and poignant." 
-- Gene Santoro, The Nation

"Passion - that's what distinguishes Robert Mugge's films...deficient in neither funk nor beat, containing roots, authenticity, and enthusiasm for the music."
-- Helmut Weihsmann, Jazz Podium (Germany)

"If Robert Mugge isn't the undisputed master of the humble, straightforward jazz documentary, I don't know who is." 
-- K. Leander Williams, The Village Voice

"You could call Mugge's films the thinking person's alternative to the pop video...the finest music documentaries I've seen."
-- Lynden Barber, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

"You'll always find a strong sense of compassion, cultural heritage and social responsibility amid a large helping of entertainment in a Robert Mugge film. (Mugge is) America's pre-eminent documentarian of indigenous music." 
-- Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

"Mugge has become America's best and most consistent maker of documentary films about musical performers." 
-- Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Mugge...has become the most prolific and arguably the most proficient documentarian of American roots music." 
-- Greg Cahill, The Sonoma County Independent 

"Documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge has become the most proficient chronicler of American  music." 
-- Richard Harrington, The Washington Post

"Robert Mugge is the king of the American music documentary." 
-- Paul Malcolm, LA Weekly

"Mugge is nothing less than the best music filmmaker on the planet."
-- Louis Skorecki, Libération (France)

"In a better world, a complete Mugge festival would be a national priority." 
-- Arthur Salm, San Diego Union-Tribune

"We're fortunate to have a man with the slightly mad dedication of Robert Mugge. Give this man a few million dollars and let him get on with it." 
-- Richard Cook, Wire Magazine (U.K.) 

Links to complete online articles about the work of Robert Mugge:
(Michael Rose from Documentary Magazine)
(Sam Adams from the Philadelphia City Paper)

The world's hippest film crew in Baton Rouge, LA with Henry Gray and the Hurricanes (1999).