Keep On Keepin' On is the extraordinary tale of legendary Jazz trumpet player and one of the founders of Jazz education Clark Terry, and his relationship with protégé Justin Kauflin. As a young man ‘CT’ played alongside Duke Ellington and mentored Miles Davis and Quincy Jones (who is a producer of the doc); and he draws on this experience to help 23-year-old blind Justin to overcome the performance anxiety and nerves holding his phenomenal talent back.
Shot across 4 years, the pupil / teacher relationship between Terry and Kauflin depicts the complexity of the attempt by musicians to find their place in an already saturated creative arena. Touchingly, both become musically re-born by the relationship with each other, and with the chance to find their unique voice within someone else.
As Terry's severe diabetes takes hold and he begins to lose his ability to play, Kauflin is able to translate his verbal direction into a poetic soundtrack which brings the documentary to life. By overlapping the two stories, filmmaker Alan Hick's draws extraordinary parallels between their stuggle to carve out a place within the world of jazz, with the backgrounds and handicaps within their own generation.
Utterly inspiring, this documentary is not just for the avid Jazz fans amongst us, but for anyone who has a passion for a unique human story and achieving dreams against all obstacles.
Keep On, Keepin' On will screen at the BFI London Film Festival throughout October. Visit the website for showtimes.