A new biographical film ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’ about trumpeter Clark Terry has premiered at the New York Film Festival.
Trumpeter Clark Terry has been described as playing ‘the happiest sound in jazz'. A new biographical film on Clark called ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’ premiered recently at the New York Film Festival. Made by Australian jazz drummer and film maker Alan Hicks it explores the relationship between Clark and aspiring young pianist Justin Kauflin.
Now in his 94th year, the legendary trumpeter from St Louis, Missouri, was a key member of The Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestras in the 1950s and fellow trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's favourite player. His sound is known for being distinctively sharp, bright and uplifting as the archive footage in the film shows. However, it goes beyond being a glowing biography of another great musician. It explores his constant friendship with a determined, visually impaired young pianist. We see the irrepressible twenty-something Kauflin through his ups and downs as he attempts to get a foothold in the New York jazz scene. At the same time Clark Terry takes on the challenges of later life with declining health and optimism and a period of hospitalisation.
Clark Terry, a pioneer in jazz music education, famously taught a young Quincy Jones who is one of the film’s producers. Speaking about his film Alan Hicks said, “In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined working on my first film with Harvey Weinstein, Paula DuPre' Pesmen and Quincy Jones. I'm so grateful that Mr. Weinstein believes in this story and has chosen to take us under his wing. It's an honour to have this team help bring Clark and his story to the world.”
Asked what he learned from his mentor ‘CT’ Justin Kauflin said, “Obviously he taught me a great deal as far as the mechanics go. But the thing that has stood out to me is he is the consumate performer. Clark is just an absolute expert about making the band feel good and about making the whole audience just so happy to be there. It’s an art form. And I hope to try to be just a little bit like that.”
'Keep On Keepin' On' is an endearing and moving account of Clark Terry's teaching legacy. London screenings:
- Oct 8, 2014 8:45 PM BFI Southbank, NFT1
- Oct 9, 2014 3:30 PM BFI Southbank, NFT2
- Oct 10, 2014 6:30 PM Rich Mix Cinema, Screen 1
Recent honours for Clark Terry:
- Inducted into the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Hall Of Fame 2013
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 2010
- A life-sized wax figure for the Black World History Museum in St. Louis
- Sixteen honorary doctorates
- Jazz Ambassador for U.S. State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa