The unheralded trumpeter makes a compelling centerpiece for the documentary. Music elite and bebop fans widely consider him the greatest living jazz trumpeter.
Though commonly recognized by many from his longtime stint as Merv Griffin's comedic sidekick on The Merv Griffin Show, trumpeter and vocalist Jack Sheldon qualifies, hands-down, as a force of jazz and one of the most unique talents in his chosen genre.
Fewer still may realize, however, that off-camera Sheldon battled his way through one of the most tumultuous and tortuous lives imaginable - replete with horrific, crushing personal tragedy, drug addiction and alcohol abuse.
In the final analysis, he survived, and quickly became a stand-by in Hollywood whenever celebrities sought a musician for their private events - thus reeling in friends as lofty as Billy Crystal, fellow jazz pianist Clint Eastwood, and Johnny Mandel, each one in awe of Sheldon's musical prowess.
With the documentary Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon, husband-and-wife filmmaking team Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre reflects on Sheldon's life and incredible career, by interpolating interviews with the aforementioned celebrities and others, archival footage of Sheldon performing with such heavyweights as Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman, performance clips of The Jack Sheldon Orchestra, and much more.