Song of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story

At the end of one's life, one of two things happens. In one scenario, there is a sense of peace and you are given the chance to look at all of your accomplishments. You are ready to expire while leaving a legacy behind that your family and loved ones would be proud of.

Or, in the second scenario, you beg for forgiveness and hope that people will not dwell on your failures, if not worse. For most musicians and artists I have come to know, tragedy laces their lives. Some of them have such horrible lives that death actually could be considered a blessing.

And, in a rare instance, a third scenario forms where someone has died so soon that we are only left to imagine what they could have been.

Since the beginning of time, Jazz music has buried many greats due to untimely deaths that range from drug abuse, violence or even murder. Some artists like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker mentally died before their actual death occurred. Time spent in prison will do that to you.

But from the little history I do know about Jazz artists, we love their craft and their gift of music.

I can't tell if it was the tragedies that they faced and the pain that they often brought on themselves that gave birth to the music.

But which ever it is, it has been said the best music comes from grave human tragedy or passionate emotions.

I pose a question. If so many artists have had similar tragedies, can there ever be a new story told about any of the greats that will be different than the last musical genius life movie or documentary? I don't know.

But what I will argue with is that when someone decides to invest their time, money or resources in telling the life story of another, it comes from somewhere. It's either due to passion for the music, the artist or the time period that changed or influenced the world.

Frank Morgan's documentary was just that for me. A viewpoint. A tribute. An educational piece to remind us of the greatness of an artist that was lost while still technically alive, and his battle with substance abuse, life, himself and his passion for music.

But why tell another Jazz story of a drug addict musician with low self-esteem that destroyed all his opportunities given to him? Why should we listen to this broken record story again? I say, it's because, "His life was relatable to every one of us in one way or another." And it's still happening and true today.

We live an age of reality TV that is directed, produced, manufactured and recreated and yet we don't question it or truly acknowledge its foolishness.

But when something like the Frank Morgan story comes out with a story that is real and unscripted, we either are dismissive of it as critics give it a not-so-positive review, or they don't review it at all. Which then translates into the project being poorly supported.

I caught up with director N.C. Heikin to ask her what inspired her to want to bring to life the "reality" of Frank Morgan's life and she graciously took the time to give me some insight into her journey.

The Frank Morgan film made it's debut at the LA Film Festival on June 14, followed by a concert where Jazz greats, whom also played a role in this documentary, performed.

Figures such as Ron Carter were among the musicians that were able to express their own personal experience about their time with Frank Morgan.

The following day we had the honor of enjoying a mini-concert that featuring jazz greats George Cables on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Mark Gross on alto sax, Grace Kelly on alto sax, and Roy McCurdy on drums.

As entertaining as I found it to be, the film struck a chord with me that will forever be on my mind. It left me with one valuable piece of knowledge-everyone's viewpoint of you or what you wish for it to be is completely out of your control.