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Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense - Episode Three: In the Spirit of Family

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Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense

Episode Three: In the Spirit of Family

The Documentary Channel

May 4, 2009, 09:00-10:00PM

Paradigm Studio

2009

In a 2005 AAJ interview, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel

Kurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
b.1970
guitar
bemoaned the loss of a sense of community in the jazz world. "There was a real community spirit kind of thing and from going to that I really grew to love and appreciate the community spirit of jazz... that kind of thing is really rare and it's getting rarer and rarer all the time. I really value and cherish the fact that I had the opportunity to be a part of that oral jazz tradition; it was great."



Mentoring may be largely a thing of the past (although artists including Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
and Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
are still keeping the spirit alive), as is a club scene that encouraged young, aspiring musicians to get onstage and jam with more established players. Still, there remains a sense of community engendered through groups who are committed to being more than just a collection of musicians coming together to play; they're families who, through months and years of touring, share far more than just the music—although the music is often more than enough. Episode Three of the groundbreaking series Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, In the Spirit of Family, explores the oftentimes complex relationships between artists truly committed to transcending the already potent nature of what they do.



Pianist Aaron Parks

Aaron Parks
Aaron Parks
b.1983
piano
says, near the end of the 54-minute episode, "You can tell a lot about people, from the way they play music," he says. "You can tell a lot about whether they're a good person at heart even; you can hear their goodness through their music; you can hear their sense of humor; you can hear their insecurities. You can't hide it; that's one of the beautiful things about it." The revelatory nature of music has always been a given, but in the collectivity that comes from longstanding groups like The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus

band/orchestra
, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

band/orchestra
, Medeski, Martin & Wood
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Medeski, Martin & Wood

band/orchestra
and e.s.t.—the Swedish trio co-led by pianist Esbjorn Svensson
Esbjorn Svensson
Esbjorn Svensson
1964 - 2008
piano
, who died in 2008 in a tragic diving accident—is something that transcends personal matters to become something much larger.

Icons Among Us / Brian Blade Fellowship Band



Watching the members of drummer Brian Blade

Brian Blade
Brian Blade
b.1970
drums
's Fellowship Band come together after months, possibly even years apart for rehearsals to prepare for the tour in support of Season of Changes (Verve, 2008) is revealing in itself. These are not just musicians coming together to continue a musical journey; these are people who share a close familial bond. "You have to recognize the mission in your life," says pianist Danilo Perez
Danilo Perez
Danilo Perez
b.1966
piano
, "and when you do you're going to see that the most important thing that we are losing in our society is community. The one thing I've learned with Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
is: the community must not be forgotten. We have to go back to thinking in a group mentality. When you are really playing jazz with the deepest of your heart, you are investing emotionally, and you have to create that sensation of being in a band. There's nothing better than feeling the totality of two, three, four musicians."



"The Fellowship is a band, it's also an idea of hopes, that you hope to see around you—not just on the bandstand—but a manifestation of that hope," says Blade, before the group launches into a performance of "Stoner Hill," from Season of Changes at the Newport Jazz Festival. "We all care so much for each other," says Fellowship saxophonist Myron Walden

Myron Walden
Myron Walden
b.1972
saxophone
, "and I think, as an extension of what Brian said, it's your highest aspirations and hopes; you wish for people to get along and have a sense of camaraderie and care and compassion and support. With us, we love each other; we love what the other persons are into. Kurt [Rosenwinkel] has ideals that he brings that to the band, and Melvin [Butler] has his experiences, and they're all so open and giving, and very embracing. So I think that's a positive attribute of the band that brings us and keeps us together."


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