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Chops (2007)

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Each year, Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director Wynton Marsalis host the Essentially Ellington Festival, a competition of high school jazz bands from across the country. Bruce ... See full summary »


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Each year, Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director Wynton Marsalis host the Essentially Ellington Festival, a competition of high school jazz bands from across the country. Bruce Broder's documentary focuses on one Florida band's experience at the festival. Written by Anonymous

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Documentary | Music



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30 April 2007 (USA)  »

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highlights from the press notes
30 July 2013 | by (Madison, Wisconsin) – See all my reviews

From the press notes...


Saxophone Section: Eric Barreto-Maymi Owen Broder Ryan Cook Darren Escar Michael Emmert Alan Havens Jawren Walton

Trombone Section: Darren Ellison T.J. Norris Corey Wilcox Jabril Williams

Trumpet Section: Tyler Duncan Erica Feinglass Jeron "Recio" Fruge Richard Sheard Adam Stark

Rhythm Section: Mario Bosque Jarrett Carter Gordon Coffee Wesley Goode Jacob Merrett Devin Paschall Jamison Ross Jeremy Smith


CHOPS began rather modestly from the parental perspective of Bruce Broder, a Florida advertising guy who one day left work early to see his son Owen participate in a Jazz class when Owen was in middle school.

"The language and the analogies the teachers used to get the concepts of Jazz and of improvisation across to these 11 and 12 year old kids was amazing to me," Broder recalled recently. "And in a really discernible way, you could see that the kids were just loving it. They were hooked.

"So I started following a small group of kids, including my son, who were part of the middle school jazz combo. The original idea for the movie was to cover them as they made the transition from middle school to high school. I knew they would be facing a far less nurturing, far more competitive environment. And I was interested in how they would deal with their love of music and jazz in the midst of the twin emotional hurricanes that are high school and puberty.

"I was fascinated with the idea that at the same time they were working on their jazz chops, they were also working out what their personas would be, on and off stage."


"I don't think the guy is capable of delivering a bad quote," Broder says of that interview. "What comes across is how deeply he is interested in the art: playing it, teaching it, fostering it. He's focused on the art and how it influences and informs life all the time."

Adds executive producer Tim Cremin, "I have to say that Wynton is one of the most impressive people I have ever met. You're a little anxious when you are about to meet him, but within about ten seconds he has you at ease with his personality and just the way he carries himself. Wynton, along with Jazz at Lincoln Center, seems to feel the responsibility of connecting the history of jazz with the present and future. Not only is he a fantastic artist, he's an ambassador for the music. I think that is why this film appealed to him."

"During our interview with Wynton," Broder adds, "he said something that really hit home with me…It was about jazz as a teaching tool. He said jazz teaches you manners, respect for others, how to be yourself, even a sense of humor. That quote was cut from the film because I think and hope it's illustrated without being said.

"One of the amazing things I learned from this process," Broder continues, "was how these kids from different backgrounds learned to communicate with and respect each other. You don't get to see kids of different races and backgrounds interact this way very often. It speaks to the power of music. At some point these kids became jazz kids, they took on this collective jazz persona, and you can see it in the way they greet each other, in the language they use when they talk with each other, in the way they move. In celebrating the music they are celebrating their individuality and at the same time they are celebrating what they have in common. That's the beauty of jazz."

Adds Cremin, "My greatest hope for this film is that kids, parents, educators and anyone else who sees it gets inspired to find out what this music can do. Just listening to jazz can inspire you. But when you see what jazz can do for these kids, both personally and as a group, it's obvious that it's much more than learning to play. It touches their souls and makes them feel good about themselves. I wish every kid in the world could feel that."

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