Friday, August 14, 2009

Got Chops?

Recently I got to see an advance screening of a new documentary called Chops. It follows a group of students in a Jacksonville, Florida high school jazz band through their discovery of jazz and ultimately to the "Essentially Ellington" competition in New York City, where they face fierce competition against other high school jazz bands from around the country.

As a product of jazz education myself, I found a lot in the film I could relate to, but I think anyone interested in jazz, or in documentaries in general would enjoy this film. It actually reminded me of the movie Spellbound, which chronicled the journey of several teenagers competing in the National Spelling Bee.

It's refreshing to see a group of kids like this who are so dedicated and feel so passionately about what they're doing, especially when it's art form that so many say is dead. These kids are inspiring. And damn, they're good! The film does a great job of conveying the sense of excitement they have for this music. It made me want to pull out my instrument and some records, and to remember what that excitement was like for me when I was that age-- that excitement that we all tend to lose a little bit of as we get older.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and highly recommend it for jazz lovers and documentary lovers alike. If you have had any sort of jazz schooling you will probably find even more in the film that resonates with you. Whatever the case, you will end up rooting for these kids, and will ultimately realize that jazz and improvised music are alive and kicking, and in good hands.

You can learn more about the movie, and even sign on to attend or host a screening by visiting the Chops website.

Here's the trailer:

Chops Trailer from B-Side Entertainment on Vimeo.