The jazz performance at the end of "Keep on Keepin' On" held exclusively for Amex card members on Saturday night, April 19, 2014, may have been in the top 10, if not the #1 event, from the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival since it’s inception. Five beautiful jazz songs were performed by a myriad of artists, one of whom being, a student of Clark Terry’s, Justin Kauflin, on piano.
First time film director from Australia, Alan Hicks, and ‘his mate’ Adam Hart, started documenting “Keep on Keepin’ On” five years go, and the great Quincy Jones came on as a producer.
Clark Terry is a jazz musician (trumpeter) with a career spanning over seventy years. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and wanted to play the trumpet so badly, that he made one himself out of a lead pipe (mouthpiece), and a funnel (bell). His neighbors couldn’t stand the noise that the makeshift horn made, so they collected $12.50 and bought one from the pawn shop. His first big break was when he was hired by Count Basie, and then as the first black staff musician at NBC. He went on to play with and/or teach some of the jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and Quincy Jones. In fact, Quincy Jones was Clark Terry’s first student, and Clark left the Duke Ellington band to join Quincy Jones eleven years later. He has been inducted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, and rewarded with the 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has two Grammy certificates, and three Grammy nominations.
Clark or (C.T.), believes in mentoring and giving back to the community. He stated, “my dreams of playing the horn came true, and now it is my turn to make others’ dreams come true.” C.T. has taken countless students under his wing, one of whom, mentioned earlier, is Justin Kauflin.
Justin lost his vision from exudative retinopathy when he was in the sixth grade. Knowing he was unable to play video games or basketball anymore, he sat down at the piano and fell in love with it. While practicing to be a jazz pianist, he said to his mother, ‘I wish something bad would happen to me so I could play the piano like the famous jazz musicians.’ His mom would hesitantly say, ‘Honey, you just lost your sight, isn’t that bad enough.’ and Justin replied, ‘Naw, what these guys went through is much worse.’
C.T. has had diabetes for over 60 years, and as a result, has been losing his vision too. Justin and Clark could relate to one another in that regard.
“You have to have a desire to excel.”
“You have to want to play better than everybody else.”
“Other students don’t study themselves. You have to know your shortcomings and work on them.”
“Whatever you are doing, do it well.”
“Find your own voice.”
“If someone believes in you, it makes you believe in yourself more.”
Article by Sharon Abella
One World Cinema