Trailers from “Tradition is a Temple,” New 90 Minute Documentary About New Orleans Music

Coming straight from the roots:

Tradition is a Temple explores New Orleans’ unique musical culture and the fragility of tradition in the modern world. The movie weaves together intimate personal discussions shot over a four year span with once-in-a-lifetime studio performances by New Orleans greats, such as Shannon Powell, Lucien Barbarin, Jason Marsalis, Topsy Chapman, Steve Masakowski, Ed Petersen, Roland Guerin, The Tremé Brass Band and many more.

This portrait of New Orleans music culture highlights the musicians’ upbringing, how tradition shaped their identity and how music continues to inspire young people today.

Those contemporary New Orleans jazz musicians interviewed discuss their childhood introductions to music in the Black Church, primarily the Baptists; and through local traditions like second line parades and jazz funerals.

More importantly, the life and work of late musician and Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band founder Danny Barker is explored. Barker is credited for keeping traditional New Orleans jazz alive through two decades, until his death in 1994,  as more and more old timers like Louis Armstrong died in the Seventies; as jazz was considered to have gone in yet another direction, like fusion or Quiet Storm.  Or worse, that jazz was thought to be dead, as its fan base grew older, and not younger like neo-traditionalist Wynton Marsalis.

Director Darren Hoffman contemplates and even questions the potential “death” of traditional jazz by presenting how it is painstakingly preserved and encouraged through homegrown mentors as well as New Orleans traditions–old and updated alike.

Those interviewed: yeah, you got that right.  Drummer Jason Marsalis is the youngest brother of Delfeayo, Wynton, Branford and Ellis III.

Trombonist Lucien Barbarin refuses to leave New Orleans, especially since Katrina, despite sustaining severe damage to his house.  In 2007, he released It’s Good to Be Home.  When Barbarin was six years old, in 1962, he made his musical debut with the resurrected Onward Brass Band helmed by his great-uncle, Paul Barbarin, who is generally regarded as one of the top jazz drummers before the advent of the Big Band era.  Paul Barbarin died in 1969 while performing during a Mardi Gras parade.   Lucien Barbarin has since played as a sideman with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Doc Cheatham, Harry Connick, Jr., and with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

The Tremé Brass Band is no slouch either. It is essentially a marching band led by snare drummer Benny Jones. The personnel is by no means consistent, but it comprises of Kermit Ruffins and James Andrews on trumpets, Elliot Callier and Frederick Sheppard on tenor saxophones, Corey Henry on trombone, and Kirk Joseph on sousaphone. Lionel Batiste is on the bass drum. So far, the band has released two albums, Gimme My Money Back (Arhoolie) and I Got a Big, Fat Woman (Sounds of New Orleans).

We’re currently fundraising for post-production costs through a crowd funding website called Please consider pre-ordering the DVD or motion picture soundtrack by making a pledge. This is your chance to make this film happen. To learn more about our campaign click here.

Again, short version, get the DVD for a $20 donation; $45 brings you a digital download of the film’s soundtrack and the DVD. And on and on up to $10,000. Autographs, teeshirts, gift baskets.

They need $30,650.  That’s all. Dribs, drabs, drips, drops in the bucket are all appreciated.

Make it real for this film, and for American tradition.

~ by blksista on January 9, 2011.

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