MP3: Keep on Keepin’ On (2014)

February 19, 2015 | By


KeepOnKeepinOn_sScore: Very Good

Label: Varese Sarabande

Released:  February 24, 2015

Tracks / Album Length:  CD – 24 tracks / Digital – 32 tracks

Composer: various

Special Notes:  Available on CD and digitally with bonus cuts.




Although director Alan Hicks mentioned in a DVD interview his desire to release a 2-CD soundtrack album, the disc + bonus material in this release more than satisfy the need to hear all of the material featured in his stellar documentary on jazz legend Clark Terry.

It’s a modest but carefully curated sampler of Terry’s work, spanning his years with Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, and later with his own band, touring when not teaching, and mentoring new generations of musicians like Justin Kauflin, a young protégé who, like his mentor Terry, was in the process of losing his sight.

Whether Kauflin is an accomplished musician and composer isn’t a doubt within the doc, but because his music and performances are brief within the film’s greater audio narrative of dialogue + archival performance clips from Terry’s epic career, this album allows one to hear Kauflin’s music, and appreciate his skill in creating themes and some beautifully fluid improvisations.

On the Varese CD release, most of his cues are layered with dialogue – a concept anathema to soundtrack fans, especially veteran collectors who had to settle for mixed versions of favourite cues in prior decades (Night of the Hunter, Cromwell, Angel Heart, and the list goes on) – but the digital album includes 8 bonus tracks that feature Kauflin’s clean, instrumental cues + the handful of orchestral tracks by Dave Grusin, a fine film composer and jazz musician / pianist / composer in his own right.

Grusin’s brief cues (4) hover around a minute each and are performed by a small string orchestra, leaving the piano material to Kauflin. His brief cues (2) are fragmentary but quite lovely, but it’s his longer ode to his mentor (“For Clark”) and especially “Exodus” which showcase the young composer’s skills. The Clark tribute is very wistful, and like the two brief cues, they’re for solo piano, whereas “Exodus” features Kauflin with his own trio, flanked by bass and drums, and it’s a clean, eloquent meditation that undoubtedly makes the listener stop and pay attention. (Not long after the film’s completion, Kauflin was signed to Quincy Jones’ own label for a debut album.)

The vivid source cues on the album were partly the result of Quincy Jones’ addition to the film’s production end, helping to clear through complex rights issues to enable a modest yet impressive sampling of Terry’s work appear in the film and on disc. Jones is cited as one of Terry’s first students, of which many more followed including Miles Davis, and although the dialogue additions may break up the album’s flow, at least the chosen words are inspirational, and in line with the film’s titular message of sticking to one’s craft, and never giving up.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



Additional Links:
Editor’s Blog — Composers on IMDB: Dave Grusin / Justin Kauflin  —  Composer Filmography —  Film Review

Select Merchants: — BSX — Intrada — Screen Archives Entertainment

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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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