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Duke Lives On At Ellington

‘Duke Ellington didn’t consider himself a jazz musician.

He said he was a musician who played jazz. And what a musician: pianist, bandleader, composer of more than 1,000 songs including standards like “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Satin Doll” and “Sophisticated Lady.”

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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born 116 years ago today in Washington, D.C. And it may just be that Ellington lives on most profoundly, every day, at a public arts high school that bears his name. The goal of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is to give a free arts education to very talented students in the D.C. area — young people who might never have the benefit of private lessons. The school celebrated its own 40th birthday last weekend.

We have a saying: If you have to be an artist, this is the place to be,” says Davey Yarborough, director of jazz studies at Ellington for 30 years.

Most of the students at Ellington are African-American. They had to pass rigorous auditions and interviews to get in — to study not just jazz, but also classical music, dance, drama and visual arts, along with a full academic program. The graduation rate is 99 percent, and 98 percent go to college, some on full scholarships.

Senior Angela Whittaker is attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston this year.

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“I knew if I went to this school, I’ll come out and be something incredible … and help me shape myself into something I’ve always wanted to be,” Whittaker says. “And I didn’t think I could achieve that. Duke Ellington gave me hope that I actually could.”

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Last Night at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs

The power of Documentary Film was a raw reality in Tom Donahue’s, ‘Thank you for your Service’ – An insight to PTSD and how America is letting their soldiers down.

Sometimes we are not aware of mass causes because we assume they are being taken care of. Case and point in the heart provoking, educational, and fundamental facts provided to lend a hand in the spirit, strength, and political stand we must provide to support the men that fight for our well being.

To be released in theatres on September 9th. Please share the benefit of this film with all.

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Sicario – Welcome to Juarez

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Nothing will make sense to your American ears…  but in the end you will understand. – Alejandro Gillick

Directed by Denis Vileneuve, Sicario is a thrilling cinematic experience that leaves you feeling grateful to go home to your abode of safe, peaceful slumber. Co stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and the riveting Benicio Del Toro deliver strong performances in this Oscar contender. Much adoration for the musical composition by Johann Johannsson who set an ambience forever memorable in soundtrack history.

Sicario opens with a nightmarish look at the battle between U.S. law enforcement and the Mexican drug cartels along the Arizona border. While tracking leads in a kidnapping case, FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and her team make the horrific discovery of a mundane Arizona home that has been serving as a cartel graveyard. The trauma of that event stokes agent Macer’s burning need for justice, making it easy for a gleeful and mysterious middleman named Matt (Josh Brolin) to recruit her onto his covert anti-cartel task force.

Long before Kate even knows what’s what, she finds herself sitting beside an even more mysterious veteran named Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and hustled onto a plane bound for the bowels of Juarez, Mexico, to hold her own with some of the cartel’s scariest men. As soon as the plane touches down in Juarez, Kate watches as the rules of law, order and justice so common to us all, melt away before her very eyes. Men like Matt and Alejandro know how dirty the hands must get in order to stop the cartel, but Kate can not truly accept or believe this world really exists, never mind being thrown into the middle of it.

In time Kate sees things she should never have seen becoming  a victim of circumstance and situation she has no power over. It leaves us all wondering where it all might end here, there and everywhere. Sicario opts to raise awareness about the very real war being fought along the US southern borderlands, and forces the frightening consideration of all casualties  left in its wake. At a glance one tangible plot about a Juarez family, seems vague at first, but by the end of the movie, they bring it back around to the main plot line to create a final scene that has nothing to do with our main characters, but speaks volumes about what the themes of their journey and conflicts mean to a real world situation.

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Day One LA: Behind The Scenes

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I sit here currently residing in the quaint hills of Echo Park at our Spanish Style Air Bnb on Valentine and the steepest hill we have EVER encountered off Baxter Street. Summer is still in full force as the muggy humidity hugs our bones and flowery smell of California clears the soul.

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A lovely respite for our crew after an energetic day of filming. Yesterday, we met the muse behind our vocal inspiration Ben Rothbard [The Palms] his other half, Lyndee.

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We aimed to capture the balance between life at home and life at night hence their gig at The Sayers club; a new favorite in the ranks for an intimate, sexy, LA vibe capped of with a stunner of live music by The Palms.

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Check one-two: We film with three Artists today, Michael Des Barres, Pamela Des Barres, and Blue Dixon. Stay tuned!

 

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