A Tuba to Cuba, directed by photographer Danny Clinch and T.G Herrington, is a vibrant, exciting, colorful, heartwarming and fun music documentary on some of the greatest musicians in the world. Those musicians in name are the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the legendary group of jazz artists from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The film documents the journey that Ben Jaffe takes with the band to Cuba, a dream his father had for decades. And thanks to the embargo being lifted from the Obama administration, Jaffe invites Clinch and Herrington along for the ride to document the journey. This is a fun little documentary, and one of the highlights of the music section of SXSW this year.
Clinch is probably best known as being, in my opinion, the best photographer of musicians working today. His regular clients include Bruce Springsteen, John Prine, Leon Bridges, Margo Price, and many, many other great artists. Clinch’s work is extraordinary, and his expertise as a photographer is shown in this film, as the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at from a visual standpoint. Clinch’s photography sensibilities really come out in this film when the band is going through Havana and Santiago in Cuba, and even capturing the charming grittiness and beauty of New Orleans looks gorgeous.
And one of Clinch’s strengths of a photographer is he relation to artists and musicians, and he’s able to perfectly capture their process and techniques on a canvas. The same can be said for how he films the band in their process of performing or practicing. And as an audience member its fascinating to watch the musical process of some of the greatest musicians in all of the world, and a real treat to see it both on the screen and in person (the Preservation Hall Jazz Band led the audience out of the screening and marched down Congress Avenue in a New Orleans-style march).
A Tuba to Cuba is a charming and fun little musical documentary. Unfortunately the festival is over, so I can’t tell you to go see anymore screenings of the film. But judging by the response the film got throughout the festival, I don’t think it’ll be too hard for the film to find distribution in the near future, which I hope is soon. And when you go and see it, make sure the sound system in the theater is good, like the one at the Paramount. A film like this deserves to be heard with a good sound system.