Free Screening: Arif Mardin's Musical Journey
The documentary The Greatest Ears in Town follows Arif Mardin—the multi-Grammy winner who was responsible for well over 50 million-selling recordings worldwide—producing his last album All My Friends Are Here (NuNoise Records), which he referred to as his "life's work," with an all-star cast of singers and musicians. The film also tells the story of his life and family. It features interviews with Mardin, Sir George Martin, Ahmet Ertegun, Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan, Phil Collins, Carly Simon, Barry and Robin Gibb, Daryl Hall, and many of the other stars whose successes he helped create. The film includes live studio and concert footage, archival photographs, home movies, and a very personal story that built the hits now known as international classics.
A special free screening of The Greatest Ears in Town will take place Wednesday, November 17, 7:00 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are available at the BPC box office. For more information visit Berkleebpc.com or call 617 747-2261. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
It is fitting that The Greatest Ears In Town is being screened at Berklee College of Music. Mardin was awarded the first Quincy Jones Scholarship in the late 1950s to attend what was then the Berklee School of Music. Mardin graduated in 1961. "Chez Twang's," recorded by Dr. John, and featured on both the film and CD, was originally titled "Byarding," in tribute to multi-instrumentalist Jaki Byard, and written while Mardin was a student at Berklee.
With this dizzying backdrop of commercial success, the film gives a fascinating glimpse of the man and the creativity behind the scenes. Lovingly shaped and pushed to completion by son and collaborator Joe Mardin, also a Berklee graduate, the film resonates on many levels, celebrating important eras, influences, and communities within the music industry. Insights and analyses from some of music's biggest luminaries poignantly create a portrait of a musician, a father, an impresario, and an artist in his own right, whose sheer joy of creativity transcends illness and the harshness of the industry in which he worked. The Greatest Ears is Town also shows that this master producer and arranger of popular music remained a prolific composer of classical music including string quartets, lieder, a one-act opera, and countless other pieces, which also serve as underscoring for the film.
As Ahmet Ertegun, the late, legendary founder of Atlantic Records comments in the documentary, "Arif developed a sense of artist loyalty and friendship that few producers I know have ever done, because of his natural nobility. He was one of the greatest producers of the 20th century."
The Greatest Ears in Town is intended for theatrical release and broadcast and will be released on DVD in 2011. Notes Jim Farber in his four-star review of the documentary for Mojo magazine, "Arif Mardin anointed songs with sound. Mardin gave some of the greatest songs of the last century his own elegant setting. Of the many talents a producer can display, he specialized in the art of arranging, the task that gives songs their shape."