Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Late Clark Terry Kept On Keepin' On

"Keep On Keepin' On" is a remarkable documentary about the late Clark Terry and his relationship with a young blind pianist, Justin Kauflin. The documentary captures Terry, who was suffering severe health issues related to diabetes and young Kauflin, in several different episodes interspersed with clips of Terry from throughout his legendary musical career. Also caught are some moments with the late Quincy Jones, who Terry mentored when Jones was a teenager and who takes Justin on the road with him towards the film's end. Interspersed are clips of Terry playing with Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and various big bands along with Justin performing at the Monk competition and later being featured with Quincy Jones in Europe where he performs his composition dedicated to Terry, "For Clark."

Ashley Kahn notes that the soundtrack is not simply an encapsulation of the film, but an overview of Terry's career interspersed with dialog by Terry, Kauflin and Quincy Jones, and some solo performances from young Kauflin. There are some excerpts of Terry's playing although there are full performances with Duke Ellington (a very fresh take on "Harlem Air Shaft"), Oscar Peterson (including "Mumbles"); a terrific "Stardust" with his Quintet as part of jazz at the Philharmonic; Count Basie (a blistering "Blee Blop Blues"); a marvelous orchestral rendition of "Misty;" and "I Remember Clifford" with Quincy Jones." Young Kauflin displays his wonderful touch and imagination on his solo piano that is heard under Terry's narration of "Letter to Justin #1," and the closing "For Clark" that closes this soundtrack.

Ashley Kahn notes that is the first collection of Terry's music although it  only provides a sample of his remarkable legacy It is a document of more than simply Clark Terry's music with the dialogue and advice presented here. One cannot recommend the movie "Keep On Keepin' On" highly enough as well as this soundtrack. While probably enjoyed most by those who have seen the movie, it certainly stands up well on its own. Recommended, and perhaps may we get a fuller career retrospective on CD of Clark Terry's music.

I received a download from a  publicist. Here is the movie trailer for "Keep On Keepin' On."

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