Aside from racial and ethnic slurs, there aren't many words that prompt a more immediate and visceral response than "hipster." Many associate the term with craft beer, smugness and, of course, Brooklyn. Modern-day hipsters have inspired a huge number of Tumblrs, memes and trend pieces in the media.

It may seem like hipsters sprang up out of nowhere sometime in the late 1990s, but the original hipsters were around several generations before that. And they were strongly associated with another uniquely American phenomenon — jazz.

“My life is music, and in some vague, mysterious and subconscious way, I have always been driven by a taut inner spring which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music, often – in fact, mostly – at the expense of everything else in my life. – Stan Getz

Stan Getz brought a lush, carefree future into the collective imagination of post-World War II America with tunes like “The Girl From Ipanema“. But in his own life he struggled with addiction and lived recklessly in juxtaposition to the possibility and light he offered through his music.

Hank Mobley was a self-taught hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophone player whose sound was situated between that of John Coltrane and Stan Getz. As a bandleader he worked to encourage musicians to develop their concepts and skills past what they may have thought possible, as he created a space for performers to work out their own vision within his compositions.

In this short feature, Rabbi Neil Blumofe illuminates the importance of those who will not settle for a glory in mediocrity – but who urge others to reach further and extend their concept of what is possible.  

Jazz singer, actress, dancer and activist Lena Horne began performing at the Cotton Club in her teens before moving to Hollywood where she worked as an actress - and was blacklisted during the Red Scare. Over a long career spanning the mid-1930s to 2000, she enchanted audiences yet never budged from her principles and beliefs.

In this short feature, Rabbi Neil Blumofe talks about the revolutionary life and work of Lena Horne.  

Milt Hinton, known as “The Judge”, was the most recorded jazz musician in history.

Over his extensive career he played on more than 1,100 sessions as a bassist. He was also a very accomplished photographer whose images captured intimate moments shared between some of the greatest jazz legends in history.

In this short feature Rabbi Neil Blumofe discusses the significance of Hinton’s life, his work and his perspective, and offers a view of what his legacy can teach us today.