Readers of JAZZ LIVES know my interest in musicians who have not received their proper share of attention: recently I’ve been celebrating pianist Clarence Profit and trumpeter Spike Mackintosh.

But I know that there are many musicians, still on the scene, who have contributed a great deal to the music without getting their due. Worse, some of them — hardly known to the general public — have been taken advantage of by fellow musicians or people in “the music business.”

This situation may always be with us, beyond fixing until fairness and generosity are automatic responses, but a pair of filmmakers have documented some of these worthy musicians who have been treated unkindly. Their documentary film is THE MUSIC NEVER DIES.  I had never heard of Jimmy Norman, composer of the song Time Is On My Side, but I had enjoyed TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM — and I knew that some of the most influential creative people had never been known, paid appropriately, or taken seriously.


I first heard of the film when a friend introduced me to Jason DeBose, a Californian now working in Finland, who has been working with the film’s director, the veteran artist and filmmaker Edward Hillel. I learned that the film “will tell the story of several legends of the art form as we catch up with them in their later years, where we find that even some in their seventies and eighties are still actively playing gigs all over the most jazz-loving cities of the United States.” Here is a brief introduction to Hillel.​  And here you can learn more about the film.

Jason and Edward have plans for the artists they are documenting and celebrating that go beyond simply completing and screening the film. Jason told me, “A large part of the funds we intend to raise will go toward a tour that we are now organizing for a group of the musicians that are the subject of our film,” a tour in countries deeply appreciative of American music but not necessarily aware of its true creators.  Here is the film’s trailer.  It certainly seems a heartfelt project, worth more than a quick look. And here is the film’s website.

May your happiness increase!


  1. This looks great. Thank you for sharing! I really hope it gets made.

    I always found it inconceivable how some musicians that changed the world of music hardly got acknowledged and struggled to go from day to day. Thelonious Monk comes to mind (as someone who received acknowledgment very late).
    But yeah, I just don’t get it. It’s quite tragic in a way.

  2. There are, literally, thousands of musicians who have performed and helped to formulate the music we love. I would venture to speculate that a large percentage of these have not received their due recognition. On a similar note, I am constantly astounded when traveling, to meet and hear some astonishing musicians who are virtually unknown outside of their immediate vicinity. I have, due to immense good fortune, been to some pretty remote places courtesy of various cruise lines, and try, whenever possible to hear jazz whenever I get the chance. I recall listening to a wonderful trumpet player in a bar in the northern Japanese city of Hakodate and an equally wonderful sax player in a bar in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. I recall asking him why he didn’t move to ‘the mainland’ – he looked at me as though I were mad…..he loved the pace of life there, felt that he could concentrate on perfecting his craft more diligently in a peaceful, quiet environment and was perfectly willing to sacrifice obtaining a few gigs in a big city to know that he was being true to his own aspirations. It really gives you a different outlook on the whole music business. I guess that the vast majority of us have to ‘sell out’ in some way….be it geographically, artistically or financially. Thankfully, people like you are there to sing the praises of people who may, otherwise be forgotten. Let’s just hope they’ll be people like you, Michael, in a hundred years time doing the same thing! Keep up the good work!

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