Junior Mance film appeal

Jazz pianist Junior Mance is the subject of a new documentary movie, which is seeking its last-stage funding through a Kickstarter campaign

Sunset And The Mockingbird, a documentary film about jazz pianist Junior Mance (pictured right), is in the final stages of production. Mance and his wife, Gloria Clayborne Mance, have self-funded the project to date. Gloria is now seeking funds through Kickstarter so that it can be prepared for release in 2018, when Mance will reach 90 years of age.

Mance’s career spans 70 years, during which time he played with Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dinah Washington. His discography extends to over 100 recordings, including over 30 studio albums as leader and sideman appearances with leading figures such as Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt and Jimmy Scott.

A stroke in 2012 and the onset of dementia led Mance to stop performing in April 2016. Gloria writes: “As his wife, manager, and favorite fan, I wasn't willing to risk him ‘shutting down on stage.’ Yet, he will continue to live at home with me, with the help of a caregiver, until it is medically inadvisable. Normally, he is in a good mood and great spirit even though his short term memory is compromised; he tends to hallucinate; he's sometimes delusional; he does what is called confabulation; but he is such a wonderful guy”.

Gloria has been working with award-winning film-makers Jyllian Gunther and Adam Kahan, who are acting as director-producers. The team describe Sunset and the Mockingbird as “a celebration of Junior Mance, but also of the love between Gloria and Junior, and of Gloria’s strength in keeping everything going, including herself”. They are seeking $38,000 to complete the movie, via a Kickstarter campaign which runs until Monday 1 May.

For more information, including a short video, details of the rewards that are on offer to supporters and details of how to donate please go to the Sunset And The Mockingbird Kickstarter page.

Text by Bruce Lindsay, photo by Brian O'Connor

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