Hello, Cleveland!

New movie puts the local music scene under the microscope.

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Not rated. Opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre.
In Il Millione, the late Gerald Levert and jazz singer Al Jarreau reminisce about Cleveland’s musical past. The documentary makes its world premiere at the Cedar Lee Theatre tonight. The movie -- shot by local filmmakers Michael and Tricia Bell -- provides an 80-minute history lesson on the city’s contribution to rock, blues, and jazz. It also paints a pretty grim picture for the future. “We can’t sit around and say, ‘Cleveland ain’t this, and Cleveland ain’t that,’” says Michael Bell. “We got an apathetic attitude in this city, and we need to come together.”

The married Bells spent four years making the film. Grammy-winner Jarreau cuts to its central theme: Contemporary music has lost its way. Before he died last year, Levert mused about how the city could be a springboard to the big time. Instead, it doesn’t even bother to promote its musicians. “He thought Cleveland was hard on its own artists,” says Bell. But the movie isn’t a complete downer. Performance footage featuring area rappers, blues groups, and jazz combos shows how vital the scene can be. “What’s interesting is that Cleveland has always had great talent,” says Bell. “There is resolve in the end.”
Thu., Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

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