Sunday, April 26, 2009

1 Giant Leap: For Mankind

Music is an artform that can bridge all aspects of humanity, and bind them together in celebration of the human race. Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman, better known by their project '1 Giant Leap' have embodied this concept. Their latest DVD release, "What About Me?" has captured the hearts, minds, ears and imaginations of those around world.

When Jamie Catto left the dance supergroup he helped found, Faithless, in 1999 to team up with a man named Duncan Bridgeman to found 1 Giant Leap, I imagine few realised the impact that this group would have.

Their concept seems ingenious but also quite simple: take a laptop, some microphones and some hand-held video cameras to each continent of the world and film just about everyone that wants to be involved. The result is a song, with each instrument perfromed in another half of the world. Carlos Santana might play guitar from his home in South America while an African choir provide the vocals in their backyard and a traditional Middle Eastern band provide percussion. What is even more compelling is that no matter where these musicians are playing, the end product sounds so good that you would expect all these musicians to have collaborated in the writing process from the begining, when in actual fact, they are kilometers apart and have probably never spoken to each other, in person, on the phone or via email. It is incredible the power that music has.

Based in the UK, but recording and writing all around the world 1 Giant Leap were nominated for two Grammy awards for their first self-titled film and album and worked with a number of musical and philosophical superstars such as Dennis Hopper, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Stipe, Robbie Williams, Eddi Reader, Tom Robbins, Brian Eno, Baaba Maal, Speech, Asha Bhosle, Neneh Cherry, Anita Roddick, Michael Franti and Jamie Catto's former band member Maxi Jazz.

In 2008 came a stunning follow-up, "What About Me?" This film is an incredible piece of art, fusing together a variety of philosophies and not to mention some of the most beautiful world music ever recorded. And the guest list for "What About Me?" was to die for: Noam Chomsky, K.D. Lang, Will Young, Maxi Jazz, Tim Robbins, Carlos Santana, Susan Sarandon, Billy Connolly, Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, Speed Levitch, Stephen Fry, Eckhart Tolle, Speech, Botos Riley and Baaba Maal contributing either philosophical thoughts or music to the project.

But, 1 Giant Leap is not about stars, music or philosophy. It is about celebrating the divesity of the human race. Music, philosophy and film are but the means for this celebration, the venue, if you will. The stage is us, human beings, sharing our thoughts, perspectives, culture and lives either through the spoken word or through music. It is not about one point of view, one religion, one gender or one race. But a celebration of everything. Duncan and Jamie are simply the vehicles for this amazing journey, choosing instead to film humanity, from the streets of New York to the most remote villages in Africa: this is about humanity. This is not to take away from the breathtaking and tearjerking music that comes with it, but the point Jamie and Duncan are making is that humanity needs to be celebrated, not destroyed, corrupted or imprisoned. "What About Me?" is a journey through life's experiences, from birth to death, from poverty to sexuality, from activism to tribalism. 1 Giant Leap is a stunning collection of music, images and thoughts from all walks of life, from all ages and all cultures.

We all have things to share. And I think that 1 Giant Leap is the long lost brother and sister of the Threethings Project, because it is about sharing with people around the world who we are, and celebrating this fact, without ignoring the pitfalls of humanity.

I could not reccomend these two wonderful films more.

Below is an excerpt from the film "What About Me?" I hope you enjoy it. The DVD and Soundtrack for both films can be bought at most major DVD/CD retailers or ordered online. It is worth every penny.

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