Clark Terry documentary “Keep on Keepin’ On” is a must see.
One of the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival this year is the incredible documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On” directed by first time filmmaker Alan Hicks and produced by the legendary Quincy Jones.
The film tells the story of Quincy Jones’ first mentor the legendary Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry. Terry played with both Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He also mentored Miles Davis. As a young boy Jones begged him for trumpet lessons and in the film he said without Clark, he would not be who he is today. This documentary is a tribute to Terry, but it also focuses on his relationship with one of his most recent proteges – Justin Kauflin, who is a blind piano prodigy. They first connected when Clark was teaching at a music college in Patterson, New Jersey. As Terry’s health deteriorated, he started teaching kids from home. Justin happened to be one the students Terry bonded with. He treated him like a son and he imparted his wealth of jazz knowledge on him as they spent hours and weeks performing and practicing together. The film follows their lives over the course of four years.
After the screening, which was a special American Express card members only event, guests were treated to a beautiful Jazz concert featuring Justin and some special guests like Herbie Hancock and Dianne Reeves. While Clark, couldn’t make the event because of his health, he was listening in from his home in Arkansas. Justin performed first, then Dianne Reeves performed “I’m Glad There Is You.” Herbie Hancock performed his original composition “Manhattan” and Roy Hargrove performed on the trumpet.
We spoke with Quincy Jones exclusively about the event. When we asked him about honoring Clark Terry, he said, “I’ve been honoring him since – that’s 70 years when he first taught me, I’ve been honoring him all my life, it’s natural and if they give you that, you give it to other young people.” Quincy Jones ended up signing Justin to his label and they are working on his debut album. On why he decided to sign Justin, Jones said, “It’s natural! Outside of music, that’s my talent, I see Oprah, James Ingram, Whoopi, Will Smith, I can see it.”
When we asked him what makes Justin special he said “My teacher Nadia Boulanger, she always told me ‘Quincy, your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being.’ He is a real beautiful human being.” When we asked him about the sound of Justin’s debut album he said, “It’s him. It’s who he is.”