PBS will present Soundmix: Five Young Musicians on October 7, 2004 at 10 p.m. EST. The one-hour special features five teenage musicians with deep connections to American musical traditions. Each story explores the music, mentors, communities and cultures that fuel the passions of these young players. The program includes hometown profiles and scenes from a workshop where the musicians meet for the first time and share their musical styles.
Soundmix introduces Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, a jazz horn player from New Orleans; Hovia Edwards, a Native American flute player from the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation in Fort Hall, Idaho; Camilo Molina Gaetan, a Latin drummer from New York City; Gabrielle Athayde, a classical cellist and rock 'n roll bassist from the Bay Area; and Jake Krack, an old time fiddle player from rural West Virginia. Mentors featured in the program include trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the late old time fiddle legend Melvin Wine and master Latin drummer Louis Bauzo.
On the Shoshone Reservation in Fort Hall, Idaho, Hovia Edwards, a 19-year-old, is one of the few Native American women playing the Plains flute, traditionally a courting instrument played only by men. Through the flute Hovia finds her voice, connects to her heritage, and works to dispel stereotypes of Native Americans.
Hovia is helped by her father, flute maker and player Herman Edwards, her mentor, Grammy-Award winning flute player Robert Tree Cody, and other elders to stay on a positive and hopeful path in the face of substance abuse on the reservation and prejudice outside of it. She keeps busy by playing at home, in local concerts, and at pow wows. During the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics she had the honor of opening the ceremonies with four other Native American flutists.
In Manhattan, the cultures of the Caribbean, Africa, and New York City come together in the music of 12-year-old percussionist Camilo Molina Gaetan. At the Boys and Girls Harbor Conservatory in Spanish Harlem-a school dedicated to preserving Latino culture, Camilo studies Latin jazz, salsa, and Caribbean folkloric music with mentors Johnny Almendra and Louis Bauzo. "Knowing who did this music before me and what I am playing about is very important. I always do my research," says Camilo, who's traveled to Cuba and Puerto Rico to study the African roots of his music.
In the Bay Area, a region known for its openness to all kinds of musical influences, rock 'n roll and classical music figure equally in the life of 17-year-old bass guitarist and cellist Gabrielle Athayde. In hallowed concert halls, Gabrielle practices and performs with the renowned San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. And in friends' basements and all-ages clubs, she jams on the bass guitar with her rock band Me/acolan. Gabrielle comes from a family of diverse musicians, so at family gigs and at home, different styles of music firmly connect two generations of Athaydes, uniquely shaping Gabrielle's identity as an American teenager.
In New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and still one of the most exciting musical centers in the world, 16-year-old trombone and trumpet player Troy Andrews (photo) carries on the legacy of the city's great jazz players. Troy trains at the esteemed New Orleans Center for the Arts and jams in the neighborhood with musicians he's played with since he was a little boy. Through performances, neighborhood jams, and marathon brass band parades, we see why his teacher Clyde Kerr says "Troy's playing makes you wonder about reincarnation - he plays with so much history and authority." Like all great American originals, Troy uses that history as the basis for experimentation with other styles like Latin music, street funk, and rap. "The last great innovator was John Coltrane. Troy could be the one to create something new," Kerr says.
And in the Appalachian hollers of West Virginia, 17 -year-old fiddler Jake Krack is one of the driving forces behind the rebirth of old time music. Jake's teachers and mentors are fiddlers Melvin Wine, 91, Lester McCumbers, 78, and Bobby Taylor, 50. Jake says learning from these masters is "like sitting in history class without the same old boring teacher." Playing in old time jam sessions at the community center every weekend and at local fiddle festivals, Jake is doing his part to make a musical tradition of the past a vital part of the future.
SOUNDMIX: FIVE YOUNG MUSICIANS tells many different kinds of stories: stories of American cultures, regions, families, and musical styles; stories of mentors passing on traditions; and stories of how people come together through music. And though it tells the stories of young people and the communities in which they live, ultimately, the program's intended audience is much broader than its subjects. The documentary explores the lives of young people pursuing their passions, presenting compelling stories for viewers of all ages and backgrounds - stories that show how in a multi-cultural society, music is a powerful resource that shapes identity, carries traditions, bridges differences, and builds hope.
More information about this program, and other NAPT services can be found on the web at www.nativetelecom.org. The program is available for purchase at www.visionmaker.org.