Watch Ken Burns: Jazz
- 1 Season
Ken Burns: Jazz is a ten part documentary that explores this most American of musical forms, from its roots in early African-American culture to its international appeal today. Jazz reached its first prominence in 1920's and dominated the music scene through World War II, but this wide reaching documentary begins with its earliest days in New Orleans before the turn of the century. The music inevitably reflected the political and social experiences of the African American community that created it, with jazz enclaves in Chicago's South Side, California and New York's Harlem each developing its own variety. Narrated by actor Keith David, the film follows the development of the original sound to its later sub-genres like Swing, BeBob, Avant-Garde and Fusion. Major contributors like Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Jelly Roll Morton, Miles Davis and Charlie "Bird" Parker are profiled both personally and professionally. Their lives, politics and era were reflected in their music, which in turn influenced the development of the jazz style. Directed by Ken Burns, the film also places the music in its cultural and historical context, using archival photographs, film clips, musical performances and interviews with music experts and historians. Each chapter covers a particular era, such as Gumbo: Beginnings to 1917 and Swing: The Velocity of Celebration 1937 - 1939. Originally broadcast on PBS, this wide-ranging survey of jazz in the 20th century features a soundtrack of classic recordings and rare finds. Ken Burns: Jazz documentary provides an overview of this unique musical expression through its artists, history and place in American culture.