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OT - GREAT movie - the "anti-Whiplash"


timwat

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My GF and I just watched this on Amazon Prime this afternoon - a movie called "Keep On Keepin' On, which is a documentary showing the relationship between the great Clark Terry and young blind jazz pianist Justin Kauflin.

 

It's one of the best films I've seen in recent memory.

 

For those of you who have seen Whiplash (I haven't), this film about CT was commended to me as the "anti-Whiplash".

 

Can't recommend it highly enough.

 

[video:youtube]

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I'll have to check it out. I am not a fan of Whiplash because of the sports-movie style melodrama (particularly the scene where the drummer gets T-boned by by the semi-truck and crawls back bloodied to the stage.....puhleeeaze) It is a more interesting conversation topic than it is an enjoyable movie. The central tenet is that Charlie Parker became Bird because someone humiliated him by throwing a cymbal at his head when he couldn't cut it at a jam session. I maintain that if genius at the level of Parker can overcome a cymbal assault, then surely it can overcome indifference. Bird was going to be Bird regardless. For lesser mortals, environment matters and encouragement is better than abuse.

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I watched Whiplash last night . . .This is what I said about it on my FB page this morning. 'A Nietzsche wunder-garden of controlled manipulation' ... says a lot about things out there. It really misrepresents the art of jazz and many people are upset with it! I hope people do not think that is what jazz is about.

 

Thank you for posting about 'Keep on Keepin' . . .

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Great review, Joe. He makes very valid points. How many police dramas on TV and in the movies could be considered realistic? Probably none, if you asked a cop. Hence .... Drama.
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Great review, Joe. He makes very valid points. How many police dramas on TV and in the movies could be considered realistic? Probably none, if you asked a cop. Hence .... Drama.
When I first saw he had a video about this, I thought, "uh oh" as he's kind of into the "right and wrongs" about jazz stuff (look at some of his other videos). But I was glad to see what he said about it. That makes total sense to me.

 

Back to the OP - I really do want to see this Terry/Kauflin movie.

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I'm on Spike Wilner's mailing list. Spike is the proprietor of Smalls and Mezzrow in NYC. I always enjoy his weekly posts.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Friends:

 

It's always a great pleasure when my old friend Greg Hutchinson comes to town. He currently lives abroad in Italy but when he comes back to New York City it's always a joyful reunion. There's few musicians in my generation that garner as much respect and love from their peers as Greg does. When he plays, not only is there a line around the corner at Smalls but also a huge turnout from the musicians who come to sit and listen and to learn.

 

Yesterday we did a masterclass at Mezzrow which was really successful and hopefully will be an ongoing feature, jazz educational classes there. Greg came in the afternoon and we had about 35 people who had signed up in advance for the class. Anyone who's seen that idiotic piece of drivel called "Whiplash" needed to be at this class yesterday to see how a real drum master teaches students about drumming, time, jazz, being a professional and life in general. Greg was generous and gentle. He was funny and direct. He had everyone in the room smiling and laughing and listening intently. Greg was patient and gracious and, above all, humble. Humble to the great tradtion that he represents and the lineage that he is a part of - a direct link to masters such as Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Ray Brown, Joe Henderson and the numerous others that Greg learned from, worked for and interacted directly with. All the participants in the class left with a positive feeling and everyone learned something.

 

It's infuriating to see jazz music maligned and portrayed in such a clearly erroneous way over and over again in the popular media. Maybe it's just impossible for the general public to understand anything except for the "sports mentality". Buy music is not a sport and it's not the military - it's the complete opposite. It's not about some insane drill sergeant throwing chairs and and demanding "are you rushing or dragging" - does anyone even know what that means? Music is a personal excursion into the self - self discovery. It's about love and joy and the discipline to play an instrument with perfection - not from fear but from a burning joyful desire to play.

 

All the great teachers in Jazz share this. My own experience with the great teachers I've had in my life such as Barry Harris, Walter Davis Jr., Harry Whitaker, Kenny Barron - they've all been generous, gentle, funny and really, really concerned that I understood the importance of the lessons they were giving me. No abuse, no anger - that's just some Hollywood bullshit. They share because they love this music so much that they want to pass it on to the next generation and hope that we do the same.

 

I look forward to seeing everyone at the clubs this week. My best wishes to you and your loved ones.

 

Spike

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I'm not familiar with Bert Primack's work collecting and curating jazz videos, and I don't doubt he loves jazz music.

 

But he's just flat wrong about at least one thing, that "Whiplash is not a jazz movie". It is absolutely being perceived as a look into jazz education by a lot of impressionable young music students. I know this, because I've seen it first hand.

 

They certainly accept that it's fiction, and dramatized, and that creative license is amplifying and exaggerating the reality. But the untruth being communicated is the very thing Spike Wilner is decrying in his third paragraph, and this is the very thing young music students are taking away from the movie. They are taking away the message that if they choose to pursue this music, they are going to eventually encounter a "serious" jazz educator who is going to treat them like the movie suggests.

 

Mr. Primack may believe otherwise, and his perspective as a graduate of NYU film school isn't lost on me.

 

But what I've actually seen in the lives of young students is exactly the reason I'm so in love with the Clark Terry film.

 

I would go so far as to say anyone who loves this music needs to see Keep On Keepin' On.

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My GF and I just watched this on Amazon Prime this afternoon - a movie called "Keep On Keepin' On, which is a documentary showing the relationship between the great Clark Terry and young blind jazz pianist Justin Kauflin.

 

It's one of the best films I've seen in recent memory.

 

For those of you who have seen Whiplash (I haven't), this film about CT was commended to me as the "anti-Whiplash".

 

Can't recommend it highly enough.

 

[video:youtube]

 

Thanks for the recommendation, looks like a great movie.

 

Whiplash..... meh.... Just too damn unrealistic for me to consider a great or even a very good film.

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That looks like really poignant movie, Tim. Particularly since we just lost CT so recently. RIP.

 

As for Whiplash... Meh. I thought it was pretty funny. I can't help yelling at drummers or guitar players in my head now... "NOT MY TEMPO!" Otherwise, everyone is right, I hope people see it for the Hollywood drama it is. That's not to say that people who get to the level that dude wanted to be don't practice that hard. They just know how to practice. That guy had no idea how to practice. But people do shed all day and all night in today's world. It's way too competitive out there to sit back.

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I remember seeing a trailer for that Clark Terry movie, have to check it out at some point.

 

Regarding "Whiplash".

 

It's funny to think of it actually as a sports movie - then it actually makes sense! And J.K. Simmons was awesome in it. The title tune was also kind of cool.

 

From a (realistic) musician/musical point of view, that film had some serious issues.

- Punching and slapping a student would probably get you fired pretty quickly. :)

- No leader of any group would mess up his own major gig by hiring a drummer who he then planned to humiliate on stage just for kicks (ruining his own reputation in the process).

- Miles Teller's drumming focused mostly on bashing those cymbals as hard and loud as possible like a maniac. The bleeding was just completely unnecessary. His "swing", the "uptempos" and his practice sessions in general were laughable throughout, and the drum solo (which was just Animal noise, and nothing to do with jazz) was ridiculous.

 

Having said that, anyone who has ever been in a "serious" jazz school, has encountered situations where the [ensemble] teacher is a real old-school tough nut; and/or if you're struggling, you'll get some serious sh*t for it (at least from yourself, especially if you're the only one in a large ensemble...) or even replaced.

 

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But don't the Terry Fletchers exist? In college I sat in on a Jazz ensemble class with some semi-famous jazz musician (UCSan Diego, don't remember his name). It was the second class; in the first he had assigned a jazz standard. In the second class he went around the room, having each one play a few bars from the tune, immediately after, he critiqued them.

 

It was reminiscent of the scene where Fletcher is hunting the out of tune player, but not near as abusive. The instructor wasn't supportive or constructively critiquing; he was strictly criticizing for choices they made in interpreting the work.

 

I didn't take that class. I knew my learning style wouldn't mesh well with his.

 

I liked the movie for it's intensity but felt it was pretty one dimensional -- the poor girlfriend actress, why did they even bother with that subplot. JK Simmon's role was definitely over the top and I liked it! I took it all at Hollywood face value.

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But don't the Terry Fletchers exist?

 

Absolutely. IMHO, anywhere you have institutionalized instruction, you have power opportunities. Anytime you have power opportunities, some men & women will be tempted to abuse it. I see it all the time teaching at a state university.

 

What grinds my gears is this: Every jazz instructor I've had the privilege of studying with has been anything but a Terry Fletcher. So I don't think this caricature is the norm.

 

The problem I'm seeing is young musicians fearing that if they commit to studying this music we love, encountering Terry Fletcher is fait accompli - and this is scaring them as they contemplate continuing more advanced study. I don't think this is right, or fair, or serves our music.

 

I think the Clark Terry movie is aspirational. It shows us older dudes what is possible for us to do in having a role in a younger musician's life. And it's simply the most human movie I've seen in a really, really long time.

 

Sorry, end of rant.

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The problem I'm seeing is young musicians fearing that if they commit to studying this music we love, encountering Terry Fletcher is fait accompli - and this is scaring them as they contemplate continuing more advanced study. I don't think this is right, or fair, or serves our music.

This kind of describes my experience. I was CS with minor in music. I felt way behind the ball to compete with other kids who had studied music since childhood. I hadn't "studied", mostly self taught. Was very intimidated to attempt anything at college level. To be fair, there was a down to earth music prof who encouraged me. Theory was easy, performance was the issue. So that jazz instructor scared the heck out of me.

 

Thanks for movie. Looks great.

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