Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense

DVD Released On: May 11, 2010
Released By: Paradigm Studio

release description

Jazz is undergoing changes of monumental magnitude and importance. Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense is a documentary film that captures the metamorphosis of jazz by showcasing the words, music, and spirit of the artists that are paving the way for an unprecedented musical revolution. Featuring Esperanza Spalding, Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Medeski Martin & Wood, Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band, Russell Gunn, Dianne Reeves, Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell, Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Jr., Wayne Shorter and many more.

Never before has jazz music meant 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 Among Us is not a historical look at what has been called "America's Music," but rather a timely, vibrant trip through the clubs, festivals, international scene, and lives of the new generation of jazz musicians. It allows the musicians to comment on their art form in a truly candid manor, and also allows the viewer an opportunity to realize that the future of jazz is now.

Also keep a look out for songs by Icons' artist and New Orleans native Donald Harrison Jr. (a.k.a. Big Chief) entitled "NY 2000" — featured in the film — and "Quantum Leap" — the title track of his new CD and a new musical invention which he has been working on for some time. In his own words, "it forces the player to re-evaluate how to improvise and places him into a brand new landscape. . . . we actually did something never done in jazz before." More information about him on his site and MySpace.

If you will be in Northern California in the Fall, be sure to catch the screening of the four-part film series, which the DVD is based on:

9/17-9/19/2010: Monterey Jazz Festival @ Monterey Fairgrounds, with performing artists from the series, including: Roy Hargrove, Diane Reeves, Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke.


"Icons includes much well-filmed footage of musicians performing and rehearsing in clubs and studios.These purely musical sequences are the major attraction of the program: they indicate what current jazz musicians are actually up to.
" — Ben Ratliff, New York Times

Efrem Towns (ET) of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lower Ninth Ward. Photo by Lars Larson.

"Though (Ken) Burns' series always will be the Constitution on the subject, this film (Icons Among Us) serves as its Bill Of Rights, reminding the viewer that as important as the original documentary was, there occasionally need to be additions such as this work to flesh out the dream more perfectly." — Mike Ragogna, The Huffington Post

Geoff Gallegos (Double G) with the daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, TwiRoPa (R.I.P.), NOLA. Photo by John W. Comerford.

"Provocative..." — Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times

Esperanza Spalding, Newport Jazz Festival. Photo by Lars Larson.

"The movie (Icons Among Us) has been hailed as the most significant jazz documentary in recent decades for the very reason that, rather than focusing on the music's storied past (in the spirit of Ken Burns), it takes an at-times contentious look at jazz today and ponders its future.
" — Brian McCoy, Oakland Examiner

Ravi Coltrane at Systems Two, Brooklyn. Photo by Lars Larson.

"music lovers (will be) exhilarated by the soulful, funky stuff bubbling up from the underground and convinced that jazz is still a refuge for the rebellious.
" — David Schimke, Utne Reader

Donald Harrison Jr. with students of the Tipitina's Foundation. Photo by Lars Larson.

"If we asked Khalil Gibran's prophet, 'What about jazz?' he'd likely respond with the documentary, Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense.
" — Sia Tiambi Barnes, J'Adore Magazine