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Tradition Is a Temple: The Modern Masters of New Orleans (2013)

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Tradition is a Temple is a modern look at New Orleans music, drawing upon the city's unique heritage to examine the fragility of tradition.


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Credited cast:
Lucien Barbarin ...
Eric T. Calhoun Jr. ...
Topsy Chapman ...
Roland Guerin ...
Benny Jones ...
Jason Marsalis ...
Steve Masakowski ...
Chuck Perkins ...
Himself (voice)
Edward Petersen
Jolynda Phillips
Shannon Powell ...
Charles Sims
Michael Sims ...
Yolanda Windsay ...


TRADITION IS A TEMPLE explores New Orleans' unique musical culture and the fragility of tradition in the modern world. Intimate discussions with contemporary New Orleans musicians highlight their history, upbringing and how tradition has shaped their identity and continues to inspire young musicians today. Written by Patrick Stafford

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Release Date:

14 November 2013 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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User Reviews

A gorgeous, sweet little film
22 February 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

No real spoilers.

Tradition is a Temple is a loving, reverential exploration of the tradition of New Orleans jazz music, with an emphasis on family and community and history and tradition and joy and love. The structure of the film offers separate, distinct sections, each addressing a theme. The transitions between sections involve original poetry written by a NOLA poet and performed over visuals that support or enhance the spoken words. It's something new, done quite well, and is a real treat. My favorite was the poem about street names.

In a section that addresses the present and future of Jazz in New Orleans, we see a lovely sequence involving a boy drummer and his teacher. The boy plays beautifully, learning a new bit, and when he finishes playing, he bursts into tears. My initial response was "oh no!" and I wanted the film to cut away, to leave this boy alone. Instead we stay in the room with them as the teacher gives his talented friend the benefit of the perspective that comes with time. It's gorgeous for its emotional generosity and hope.

The amazing and talented Mr. Shannon Powell says at one point during the film that he hopes he will be remembered after he is gone. I did not know him or his music before this movie, but I can honestly say, "I will remember you, Mr. Powell."

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