© George Chen

The genre-bending free jazz drumming legend William Hooker has been exploring the adventurous borders of avant garde music with kindred spirits like David Murray, David Ware, Thurston Moore, Zeena Parkins, Elliot Sharp, Christian Marclay and many others.

In this performance he will improvise a live soundtrack to pioneering African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s 1920 silent film classic The Symbol of the Unconquered, originally advertised as a chance to come see “the annihilation of the Ku Klux Klan.” Some of Micheaux's earliest and most significant films were responses to D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), portraying the African-American struggle against white racism and the KKK. Some of these films were lost for decades and restored in the 1990s. In Symbol of the Unconquered, the black hero holds his ground and protects a light-skinned mulatto neighbor (who is passing as white) as a local gang of thieves and hooded, torch-carrying Klansmen plots to frighten him, steal his land and finally, to kill him. Though how they do it remains unknown due to a key missing reel, the amorous “black” couple emerges from the ordeal unscathed and thrilled to discover their shared racial identity.