Keep On, Keepin’ On is an inspiring film about the jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry and his legacy: his mentorship of young jazz musicians. Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Diana Reeves all pay tribute to this wonderful man. When Australian filmmaker, Alan Hicks began making this film, he’d film for 3 months and then tour as a musician for 3 month to earn enough money to continue. When he made the decision to return to his home, Hicks was convinced by Clark Terry that he needed to stay in Arkansas and finish telling the story. So he sold his surfboard to finance the airfare to Sundance to find a producer. There he meet Paula DuPré Pesmen. She was no stranger to first-time filmmakers having produced both The Cove and Chasing Ice. Together, they embarked on a musical journey that Paula said, “honors the joy of Clark’s enduring spirit”.
Alan Hicks had been following the story of Clark Terry’s relationship with young blind protégé, Justin Kauflin. Both Justin and Dianna Reeves were in Denver for the screening. Alan Hicks and his wife now live in Denver, something he says, he could never have imagined. “Here”, he says incredulously, “they ski and make movies–and there’s this wonderful film community!”
Lisa Kennedy from the Denver Post led an animated discussion and then, Justin Kauflin played two piano pieces: one, the theme music he composed for the film, called “Exodus” and the composition he titled, “For Clark”.
Justin has been on tour with Quincy Jones and has recorded an album. He still speaks weekly with Clark Terry and if he still isn’t confident in “his voice”; Justin knows he’s blessed to have had this wonderful experience with the best mentor anyone could ever hope for. Clark Terry is a jazz legend who links the past with all the jazz greats he played with, to the future, with all the jazz talents he’s trained.
Keep On, Keepin’ On was awarded the True Grit Award and both screenings were major crowd-pleasers. Too bad the Starz Denver Film Festival decided they needed to program “Like Sunday, Like Rain”, in the hopes of some celebrity attendance that didn’t happen. They “missed the boat” on having this amazing film, with its local connection, as the feel-good Closing Night film!