Robert Mugge Music Films and Documentaries

Robert Mugge Music Films and Documentaries

American filmmaker Robert Mugge has been capturing the essence of great musical performers and performances since the 1970s. His acclaimed documentaries about blues, bluegrass, reggae, zydeco and Hawaiian music have included feature-length profiles of Al Green, Ruben Blades, Sonny Rollins, Robert Johnson and Gil Scott-Heron. According to Mugge, “In my films, music frequently serves as a leaping-off point for discussions of social issues, cultural issues, political issues, even religious issues. In fact, I tend to see music as a metaphor for the human spirit.”

“Films of the documentarian Robert Mugge [are] cultural reference books... Documents of a flourishing below-the-radar culture... they are archival records as well as entertainments.”
–The New York Times

“Musicologists, cultural historians and just plain folks are going to hail Mugge as a national treasure.”
–The Seattle Times

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Robert Mugge Music Films and Documentaries
  • Gospel According to Al Green

    In the early and mid 1970s, the release of songs like “Let’s Stay Together,” “Love and Happiness,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Take Me to The River” made Al Green one of the most successful soul and pop singers in the world. However, as the decade progressed, Green suffered an existential crisis...

  • Black Wax: Gil Scott-Heron

    Renowned documentarian Robert Mugge showcases the art, the life, and the personality of the great African American poet-singer-songwriter-author Gil Scott-Heron, the man Melody Maker once called “the most dangerous musician alive” and many have dubbed the forefather of rap music. Perhaps the firs...

  • George Crumb: Voice of the Whale

    In 1976, Robert Mugge made his first film about American music, GEORGE CRUMB: VOICE OF THE WHALE, a strikingly original work about the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. Notable for its innovative use of color, this documentary portrait includes a full-length performance by the Penn Contemporary Pl...

  • Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise

    Decades ahead of his time, composer, keyboard player, bandleader, singer, poet, and philosopher Sun Ra coupled sci-fi images of outer space with those of ancient Egypt, acoustic instruments with electronic ones, and modern American musical genres (jazz, soul, gospel, blues, swing) with traditiona...

  • The Return of Ruben Blades

    Music documentarian Robert Mugge follows the distinguished actor, musician and activist Rubén Blades to Harvard, where he gets his master’s degree in international law; to his old neighborhood in his native Panama; to Los Angeles for a recording session with Linda Ronstadt; and finally to New Yor...

  • Saxophone Colossus Featuring Sonny Rollins

    Renowned music documentarian Robert Mugge presents an in-depth portrait of tenor saxophone master Sonny Rollins, among the greatest artists in jazz history. Named after one of Rollins' best-known albums, this 1986 film presents an ensemble performance in upstate New York and the world premiere of...

  • Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records

    In 1971, Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records, an independent record company, which went on to become the most successful blues label of the modern era. Two decades later, Alligator Records staged a 20th Anniversary Tour starring Koko Taylor and Her Blues Machine, Elvin Bishop, Katie Webster, ...

  • The Kingdom of Zydeco

    Renowned music documentarian Robert Mugge dives into the black Creole music scene of Southwest Louisiana and documents the attempts, in the mid-1990s, to name a new “king of zydeco.” The original self-proclaimed “king” was the great Clifton Chenier who did more than anyone to develop zydeco’s mus...

  • Rhythm 'n' Bayous: A Road Map to Louisiana Music

    Acclaimed “King of the Music Documentary” Robert Mugge takes his audience on a rollicking ride through Louisiana’s musical backwater bayous. Regional experts guide this trip from historic concert halls to po’boy joints, blues dives, zydeco clubs, gospel churches and intimate family gatherings, a ...

  • Last of the Mississippi Jukes

    Renowned music documentarian Robert Mugge explores the fading traditions of juke joints where the blues was born a century ago and where regional musicians still practice their craft and entertain their fans. The film focuses, in particular, on two well-known Mississippi venues: Jimmy King’s lege...

  • New Orleans Music in Exile

    Like their neighbors, members of the legendary New Orleans music community were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its tragic aftermath. Renowned music documentarian Robert Mugge creates an emotional portrait of horror, heartbreak, and hope as the musicians who lived through the disaster pick up...