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||IMDB Rating: 7.9/10 from 114 votes
||Release: 30 April 2007 (USA) /
||Genre: Documentary, Family, Music
||Director: Bruce Broder,
||Synopsis: Each year, Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director Wynton Marsalis host the Essentially Ellington Festival, a competition of high school jazz bands from across the country. Bruce Broder's documentary focuses on one Florida band's experience at the festival. Written by Anonymous
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From the press notes...
THE STUDENTS IN THE BAND
Saxophone Section: Eric Barreto-Maymi Owen Broder Ryan Cook Darren
Escar Michael Emmert Alan Havens Jawren Walton
Trombone Section: Darren Ellison T.J. Norris Corey Wilcox Jabril
Trumpet Section: Tyler Duncan Erica Feinglass Jeron "Recio" Fruge
Richard Sheard Adam Stark
Rhythm Section: Mario Bosque Jarrett Carter Gordon Coffee Wesley Goode
Jacob Merrett Devin Paschall Jamison Ross Jeremy Smith
ABOUT THE FILM
CHOPS began rather modestly from the parental perspective of Bruce
Broder, a Florida advertising guy who one day left work early to see
his son Owen participate in a Jazz class when Owen was in middle
"The language and the analogies the teachers used to get the concepts
of Jazz and of improvisation across to these 11 and 12 year old kids
was amazing to me," Broder recalled recently. "And in a really
discernible way, you could see that the kids were just loving it. They
"So I started following a small group of kids, including my son, who
were part of the middle school jazz combo. The original idea for the
movie was to cover them as they made the transition from middle school
to high school. I knew they would be facing a far less nurturing, far
more competitive environment. And I was interested in how they would
deal with their love of music and jazz in the midst of the twin
emotional hurricanes that are high school and puberty.
"I was fascinated with the idea that at the same time they were working
on their jazz chops, they were also working out what their personas
would be, on and off stage."
THE FILM'S DIRECTOR ON WYNTON MARSALIS
"I don't think the guy is capable of delivering a bad quote," Broder
says of that interview. "What comes across is how deeply he is
interested in the art: playing it, teaching it, fostering it. He's
focused on the art and how it influences and informs life all the
Adds executive producer Tim Cremin, "I have to say that Wynton is one
of the most impressive people I have ever met. You're a little anxious
when you are about to meet him, but within about ten seconds he has you
at ease with his personality and just the way he carries himself.
Wynton, along with Jazz at Lincoln Center, seems to feel the
responsibility of connecting the history of jazz with the present and
future. Not only is he a fantastic artist, he's an ambassador for the
music. I think that is why this film appealed to him."
"During our interview with Wynton," Broder adds, "he said something
that really hit home with me
It was about jazz as a teaching tool. He
said jazz teaches you manners, respect for others, how to be yourself,
even a sense of humor. That quote was cut from the film because I think
and hope it's illustrated without being said.
"One of the amazing things I learned from this process," Broder
continues, "was how these kids from different backgrounds learned to
communicate with and respect each other. You don't get to see kids of
different races and backgrounds interact this way very often. It speaks
to the power of music. At some point these kids became jazz kids, they
took on this collective jazz persona, and you can see it in the way
they greet each other, in the language they use when they talk with
each other, in the way they move. In celebrating the music they are
celebrating their individuality and at the same time they are
celebrating what they have in common. That's the beauty of jazz."
Adds Cremin, "My greatest hope for this film is that kids, parents,
educators and anyone else who sees it gets inspired to find out what
this music can do. Just listening to jazz can inspire you. But when you
see what jazz can do for these kids, both personally and as a group,
it's obvious that it's much more than learning to play. It touches
their souls and makes them feel good about themselves. I wish every kid
in the world could feel that."
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