Passing the Torch documents a ninety year old Jazz master, Jimmy Heath, mentoring teenage musicians with a thirst for knowledge and an appreciation of America’s homegrown art form, Jazz. Director Bret Primack captures Heath’s gentle, humorous sharing of life lessons and the non-threatening way he guides aspiring artists to musical excellence.
An esteemed mentor, Mr. Heath reaches a much younger generation by understanding his role, to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and finely tuned to their needs. Accordingly, these teenagers recognize their unique opportunity, to learn Jazz and life from a man who walked with giants like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
Mr. Heath, came to the Tucson Jazz Festival to play with the Tucson Jazz Institute's Ellington Band, repeated winners of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition for high school groups. The collaboration was so meaningful that Doug Tidaback, the nationally recognized Jazz educator and co-founder of the Tucson Jazz Institute, brought Jimmy Heath back for a recording session. Filmmaker and teacher Bret Primack documented the interaction between the Jazz Yoda and this very talented group of teenage musicians.
Passing the Torch, a forty-three minute documentary, includes performance excerpts, rehearsals, interviews and behind the scenes moments that celebrate the joy of creation individually, and as part of a group, and the intergenerational sharing of wisdom,