Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense, a documentary series, looks at the Jazz music scene today. Through interviews, performance footage, and the voices of the musicians themselves, we will explore this music and the divergent influences that are shaping the world of Jazz at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Not a historical look at what has been called America’s Music but a timely, vibrant trip through the clubs, festivals, and lives of this new generation of jazz musicians. Never before has jazz music been so many different things to so many different people, from hip hop to bebop from jam band to free form, the music continues to grow and shape itself in ways as varied as the musicians who play it. “Icons …” is a look at all of this and more.

The Four Episodes

Episode 1 – A Quiet Revolution 

The inaugural movement of the series directly challenging perceptions of what jazz is and what it is becoming by examining its innovative new voices as well as their influential forebears. We discover the primary questions associated with the jazz artists’ quest to define themselves and their art form. They bravely communicate their allegiance to the present time in the face of jazz legacies that are monumental. The new voices as well as the powerful journeymen weigh in on their search for mentorship and its powerful effect on success. Our dialogue unfolds with Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Russell Gunn, Matthew Shipp, Avishai Cohen, Bill Frisell, Greg Osby, Robert Glasper, Bugge Wesseltoft, Aaron Parks, Lionel Loueke, Frank Lacy and David King, featuring interview appearances with Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Joe Lavano and George Wein.

Episode 2 – 12 Notes In Real Time 

12 notes is all you have in western music. Inside that tiny box one finds expressions of love, friendship, glory, pain, joy and humor. 12 notes. The difficult part is to spin and space those notes in real time, in front of a live audience. This is where everyday life is distilled in the fire of the ³deep ritual² of improvised music. This is where the true art of the jazz musician comes to life in the moment of connecting his and her inner universe to that of a larger world. This episode features Skerik, Marco Benevento, Gretchen Parlato, Ravi Coltrane, Dafnis Prieto, Esperanza Spalding, Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Danilo Perez, Anat Cohen and Dianne Reeves as they engage the world in a dialogue that could happen in no other time.

Episode 3 – “In the Spirit of Family” 

In this episode Icons Among Us goes inside with a deeper look into the process, the lifestyle and the friendships that create a unique bond only a “band” can posses. If jazz could offer us a model for a society in which everyone contributes to a greater good rather than focusing on personal gain, it would be reflected in the exploration of the collaborative process. During the seven plus years of production, Icons has been able to capture the natural progression of select bands such as The Bad Plus, Soulive, Medeski Martin and Wood, E.S.T., Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra and Jason Moran and the Bandwagon who offer up new languages and a unique glimpse into an often ideal world.

Episode 4 – Everything Everywhere 

The origins of jazz are mysterious; its journey less so. African rhythms finding western instruments. Folk musics of the Caribbean drifting north into the brackish waters of New Orleans, mingling with the blues, Native American spirit, and the individualistic impulse of restless democracy. The transmission of this enigmatic but eminently humane art form to the world and to the youth who live in the epicenters of its origins and lifeblood are the focus of our final episode. Courtney Pine and Richard Bona weigh in with incredible stories evoking the penetration of jazz DNA into the body of world music. Terence Blanchard, Stanton Moore, Roy Hargrove, Charlie Hunter, Donald Harrison and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band bring us home to New Orleans, a damaged but luminous vessel that still embodies a musical culture unique to the world.

 Artists Participating in Icons Among Us

The Bad Plus, Paul de Barros (Journalist), Marco Benevento, Will Bernard
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona
Matt Chamberlain, Anat Cohen, Avishai Cohen (bass), Avishai Cohen (trumpet)
Ravi Coltrane, Jamie Cullum, DJ Logic, daKAH, Amy Denio, Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Dave Douglas and Brass Ecstasy, e.s.t., Bill Frisell, Garage a Trois
Robert Glasper, Russell Gunn, John Gilbreath (Director – Earshot Jazz Festival)
Brian Haas, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Donald Harrison, Jr., Dave Holland
Charlie Hunter, Vijay Iyer, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Ashley Kahn (Journalist)
Robin Kelly (Historian), Frank Lacy, Brady Lahr, Joe Lovano, Lionel Loueke
Jessica Lurie, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Reed Mathis, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Stanton Moore, Jason Moran
Idris Muhammad, Greg Osby, Aaron Parks, Gretchen Parlato, Nicholas Payton
Danilo Perez, Courtney Pine, Tineke Postma, Chris Potter, Dafnis Prieto
Dianne Reeves, Damion Reid, Eric Revis , Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joe Russo
John Scofield, Matthew Shipp, Wayne Shorter, Skerik, Jason Smart
Soulive, Esperanza Spalding, Christopher Thomas, Robert Walter
George Wein, Bugge Wesseltoft, Miguel Zenon


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