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Why Can’t I Be Beautiful Like You

March 10 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm



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J. A. Granelli –  Solo electric bass, Compositions, effects.

Colin Mackenzie – Video images and projections

Why Can’t I Be Beautiful Like You is an hour long multimedia piece built around the music of J .A. Granelli and the video projections of Colin MacKEnzie.

What began as an online collaboration is now a live experience that marries memory, loss, joy and resilience. Both video and audio incorporate pre-recorded material, found footage and improvisation that draws one into a world of beauty that exists around us every day but often goes unnoticed.

Written around the death of J.’s father and Colin’s longtime collaborator; the drummer and master improviser Jerry Granelli, “Why Can’t I Be Beautiful Like You” looks at the passing of time and a hope for the future. The video images and music create their own dialogue, organically informing one another and teasing out previously unseen meanings. The audience joins the artists as both take a surprising and fulfilling journey together.



J. Anthony Granelli is a native of northern California. He began to study bass at age eight with bassist and musical instrument pioneer Fred Marshall. In his teens Granelli moved to Seattle Washington where he performed with Jay Clayton, Julian Priester and Jerry Granelli while studying at Cornish College of the Arts.

Granelli received a BFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1991. At Cal Arts he explored creating a personal vocabulary of improvisation while studying with  Charlie Haden and performing with John Bergamo and Miroslav Tadic. In 2006 Granelli earned a Masters Degree in Jazz Composition from New York University.

After moving to Brooklyn New York in 1992 Granelli was very active in the scene that flourished around the Knitting Factory. While in New York he was a founder/ assistant director with Ralph Alessi of the School for Improvised Music an internationally attended program that runs during the summer. Granelli also helped to found and is now artistic director of Jerry Granelli’s Creative Music Workshop in Halifax Nova Scotia, which just celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in 2023.

In 2000 Granelli started Love Slave Records which released nine critically acclaimed records by his own bands as well as other “downtown” musical luminaries. J. Anthony has been covered in all major Jazz publications as well as various local media outlets.

J Anthony continues to compose and play in New York City and internationally. He currently leads his own Mr. Lucky Trio as well as Jazz/Reggae band the Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society and plays with numerous local projects. Granelli was the musical director and arranger for the “Love Love” project with Julian Priester, Jerry Granelli’s “Sand Hills Reunion with Rinde Eckert and the “Dance Hall Project” featuring Bill Frisell and Robben Ford.

In 2019 and 2020 Granelli released “My Pretty Demon” and “End To Begin” with his trio Mr. Lucky. A solo bass album entitled “Why Can’t I Be Beautiful Like You” was released in 2023 with featured accompanying videos by Canadian filmmaker Colin MacKenzie.

Granelli has performed with: David Tronzo, Julian Priester, Jay Clayton, Jane Ira Bloom, Mose Allison, Brad Shepik, Francoise Houle, Jerry Granelli, Briggan Krauss, Bill Frisell, Robben Ford, John Abercrombie, Anthony Cox, Ralph Alessi, Rinde Eckert, Jamie Saft, Buck 65, Miroslav Tadic, Peter Epstein, John Bergamo, Alicia Svigles, Jamie Haddad, Mike Dillon, Cedric “Im” Brooks, Ohad Talmor, Michael Blake, Dave Douglas, Smokey Hormel, Ben Goldberg, Ned Rothenberg, John Schott, Anthony Coleman.

Colin MacKenzie
is an award-winning filmmaker, generally focusing his cinematic energies on documentary work.  His most recent collaboration: Why Can’t I Be Beautiful Like You: Live, sees him creating ambient documentary work projected live during the live performance by composer/bassist J Anthony Granelli. Colin has been consistently telling stories for over three decades. Before and during COVID, he worked on and completed the poetry infused documentary “The Lobster Whisperer”, examining the life choices of a lobster fisherman. In 2019, along with animator Aparna Kapur, he co-directed the NFB produced “Balakrishna” (2019). This short film mixes animation and archival footage to tell the true story about an elephant and a boy in Nova Scotia. In 2017, he directed “FANNIE in Montreal” (filmed entirely on iPhone): in 1955 a young woman from Cape Breton moved to Montreal and never forgot. With “Decoding the Undertow” (2007), he explores the creative process of three dancers and three skateboarders in a piece by choreographer and co-director Sally Morgan. In 2006, he directed “COGSWELL”, based on a play by writer and broadcaster Stephanie Domet. “Jerry Granelli – In the Moment” (2001) explores the life of a master of improvisation, drummer/teacher Jerry Granelli. This followed a short experimental documentary, “A Granellian Encounter” (1998), winning the Best Canadian Short Film Award at the Atlantic Film Festival. Colin also produced and directed several music videos for artists such as Sloan, Jill Barber and Julie Doiron. An enduring passion for radio also led to his producing radio documentaries for the CBC.


March 10
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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ShapeShifter Lab
837 Union Street, Ground Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11215 United States
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