A feisty kid from Brooklyn plays lead trumpet with Count Basie, hangs with Dizzy and Lady Day, and then at 85, starts his own band.
Meet the Filmmaker, Bret Primack
I’ve made over two hundred short films about musicians in the past seven years that I’ve posted to my Jazz Video Guy YouTube channel.
Now I want to tell a story that needs a larger canvas. This is a one-hour documentary about a soon-to-be ninety year old trumpeter named Pauly Cohen, still following his big band dream.
Pauly is a Jazz elder who graduated from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and within a few years, was working as a big band lead trumpeter with Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Charlie Barnet. His credits include hundreds of recording sessions, TV and Radio programs, and many many years on the road.
An early mentor and friend was Dizzy Gillespie, dating back to the mid-40s, when they were both in the trumpet section of the Earl Hines Big Band that also included Charlie Parker. Pauly reached a creative peak in the 70s when he played lead trumpet with Count Basie.
Finally, His Own Big Band
When Pauly moved to South Florida in his early 80s, he didn’t retire. Instead, he formed his own group populated by other big band veterans, which he continues to lead today, on the eve of his 90th birthday.
Pauly Cohen is still driven by the same pursuit for musical excellence that made him one of the great lead trumpet players in big band jazz, and the same passion for life that’s motivated him to work on himself and become a better man. The formerly irascible horn man, who always had a great sense of humor, now reveals that he also has a heart of gold.
Why Six Thousand Dollars?
My film, Pauly Cohen, Trumpeter, tells his story through interviews, rehearsal and performance footage (check out the clips on this page). I’m seeking $6,000 to complete this one-hour documentary. I've already shot fifteen hours of footage.
I work as a one-man crew, shooting with a Canon 60D DSLR and XHA1 HIgh Definition Camcorder, recording sound with high-end microphones and a Zoom H4N digital recorder. I prefer this approach for documentary filmmaking. It makes the filmmaker as unobtrusive and cost effective as possible.
$6,000 will finance three more days of shooting as I return to South Florida for Pauly's 90th Birthday, this October. I'll do more interviews with Pauly and his fellow Swing Era veterans and shoot another rehearsal. One's 90th birthday offers an opportunity to reflect on life with a unique perspective.
These funds will also pay for the post-production of this film. I plan on editing the film in November and December. I edit on iMac with 32GM of RAM using Final Cut Pro X. The audio mix will be done here in Tucson.
I'm producing this one hour documentary to be shown at film festivals and on cable and web channels that program documentary films: IFC, Sundance, the Documentary Channel, Hulu, Netflix and if I’m very lucky, HBO and PBS.
Any funds raised over and above the $6,000 will be used to fund film festival entry so that this film can reach the audience it so richly deserves.
Pauly’s story is not just for music fans. It has a more universal appeal because it's about something everyone experiences: aging. Most people lead a less active life after the age of seventy. But rather than stay home and watch big band tributes on PBS, Pauly Cohen charges forward, focused solely on the music he's playing today with his own band.
This film is about a man about to turn ninety, still actively pursuing his big band dream at a time in life when those who have survived the ravages of old age are most likely retired and lined up for an early dinner. Thankfully, there is a man of action like Pauly Cohen, to remind us that we can continue to do what we love, long past forced retirement.
And that’s the story I want to tell, with your help, in this film, Pauly Cohen, Trumpeter.
Pauly Cohen, Trumpeter is being produced by Arcadian Arts, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit corporation so your contributions are tax deductible, no matter what the amount. After we receive your contribution, you will receive an email acknowledgement for tax purposes.
There are a number of rewards for those who can contribute to this project. All contributions, no matter the amount, really help and are most appreciated.
If you'd like to be involved with this project as both a witness and a participant, please consider a donation of $150 for an Associate Producer credit. This includes entry to a special password protected website where you can view the Rough Cut of the film, posted each Friday during the scheduled one-month post-production. Your feedback will be encouraged, so you can be both a witness and a participant in this process and you'll be able to post your own info and links for the community that will come together to produce this film.
You can join the community of Pauly's supporters by visiting our page on Facebook.
For more info, please visit the website, Pauly Cohen, Trumpeter.
A Little More Pauly
Thanks for considering this project. I look forward to your feedback.
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