Friday, January 23, 2015
The Teacher, the Student, The Music
But, don't think view this documentary as an obituary or even a tragedy. While Mr. Terry shown practicing early in the film, what you really see is how he remains a vital teacher and mentor for young musicians, in this case a young pianist from Virginia, Justin Kauflin. The 2 men share a love, a passion, for music, for the uplifting intersection of rhythm and melody and the joy of well-executed turn-of-a-phrase. At the beginning of the film, the elder man is losing his sight; blindness has been a fact of Kauflin's life since he was a young boy. It seems as if many of the lessons that Mr. Terry gives his student make place late at night, as if out of the darkness both musicians share, the light created by their discussions and the music continues to move them forward. Hicks uses close-ups to make sure we understand the relationship is more than just teacher/student but that there is great love that develops over the course of the lessons.
There's much more to this movie, including a great overview of Mr. Terry's career as well as the challenges of Justin Kauflin starting his life as a professional musician. See this documentary and you'll never forget it. For more information, go to keeponkeepinon.com.
As you listen to the music, you will hear a strong rhythm section, an agile and creative pianist plus a fine second voice in guitarist Stevens. Several of the Quartet tracks, in particular the opening "Elusive" and "Epiphany", may remind the listener of the music Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays created in the late 1970s and early 80s. Guitarist Stevens, who has worked with trumpeter Christian Scott and the Next Collective, has a clear tone and a melodic bent which bends well with the more forceful piano work of Kauflin. There's a touch of funk on "B Dub", especially in the rolling piano chords; Smith and Williams push the music forward and the soloists pick up on their shifts in intensity. Kauflin's solos throughout the album, especially on the uptempo pieces, also display impressive forward motion, an excitement that is infectious for the listener. Hazes replaces Stevens on the closing track, "Thank You Lord", a gospel-tinged ballad that also has a "country" feel and a melody line just ripe for a vocal. Listen to the notes as they ring out in an articulate fashion on the piano solo.
The Trio tracks include the handsome ballad "For Clark", all the more poignant if you have seen the movie. The impressive melody, the wide-ranging solo, and the soulful chords, all supported by an active and involved rhythm section really make this piece stand out. "Tempest" opens in a classical vein before moving out into another excellent Kauflin solo over a solid foundation from the bassist and active snare work. There's a hint of Keith Jarrett in the flowing piano solo that leaps from speedy single-not runs to hearty chordal work. The final Trio cut is the hard-swinging "Up and Up", a good description of the energy level of the 3 musicians.
Give a listen: