Notoriously obsessive director Michael Mann and star Will Smith devoted nearly two years and over 100 million dollars from the coffers of Columbia Pictures and other financiers to creating this biography of boxing great Muhammad Ali, which focuses on the ten-year period of 1964-1974. In that time, the brash, motor-mouthed athlete quickly dominates his sport, meets and marries his first wife (Jada Pinkett-Smith), converts to Islam (changing his name from Cassius Clay), and defies the United States government by refusing to submit to military conscription for duty in Vietnam. His world heavyweight champion title thus stripped from him entirely for political reasons, the champ sets about to win back his crown, culminating in a legendary unification bout against George Foreman (Charles Shufford) in Zaire, dubbed the "Rumble in the Jungle." In his travels, Ali becomes a symbol of power to disenfranchised African-Americans everywhere and meets such luminaries as Malcolm X (Mario Van Peebles), Martin Luther King Jr. (LeVar Burton) and Maya Angelou (Martha Edgerton).
Given the glut of "String Quartet Tribute to So and So," "Electronic Tribute to Some Crappy Band," and "Pickin' on Whomever" "tributes," it's somewhat surprising that no one has tackled Pavement in a tribute album – not until now, at any rate. And even more surprising is that it's not one of those aforementioned knockoffs; it's a heavyweight jazz session with James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, and Reginald Veal, three of jazz's finest players on their respective instruments (rounded out by the talented Ali Jackson on drums). You may be asking, "what the hell are a bunch of jazzbos doing playing Pavement tunes?" The short answer, "making a great album." Remember, underneath their slacker image and loose, lo-fi aesthetic, Pavement's best tunes were memorable and melodic with interesting (though sometimes ramshackle) arrangements.