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Ken Burns' Jazz (Full Screen)
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The story, sound, and soul of a nation come together in the most American of art forms: Jazz. Ken Burns, who riveted the nation with The Civil War and Baseball, celebrates the music's soaring achievements, from its origins in blues and ragtime through swing, bebop, and fusion. Six years in the making, this "soundbreaking" series blends 75 interviews, more than 500 pieces of music, 2,400 still photographs, and over 2,000 rare and archival film clips. The 10-part musical journey spotlights many of America's most original, creative--and tragic--figures, including Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Special features of the PBS DVD Gold include bonus performances and The Making of Jazz documentary.
Accompanied by a menagerie of products, Ken Burns's expansive 10-episode paean, Jazz, completes his trilogy on American culture, following The Civil War and Baseball. Spanning more than 19 hours, Jazz is, of course, about a lot more than what many have called America's classical music--especially in episodes 1 through 7. It's here that Burns unearths precious visual images of jazz musicians and hangs historical narratives around the music with convincing authority. Time can stand still as images float past to the sound of grainy vintage jazz, and the drama of a phonograph needle being placed on Louis Armstrong's celestial "West End Blues" is nearly sublime.
The film is also potent in arguing that the history of race in the 20th-century U.S. is at jazz's heart. But a few problems arise. First is Burns's reliance on Wynton Marsalis as his chief musical commentator. Marsalis might be charming and musically expert, but he's no historian. For the film to devote three of its episodes to the 1930s, one expects a bit more historical substance. Also, Jazz condenses the period of 1961 to the present into one episode, glossing over some of the music's giant steps. Burns has said repeatedly that he didn't know much about jazz when he began this project. So perhaps Jazz, for all its glory, would better be called Jazz: What I've Learned Since I Started Listening (And I Haven't Gotten Much Past 1961). For those who are already passionate about jazz, the film will stoke debate (and some derision, together with some reluctant praise). But for everyone else, it will amaze and entertain and kindle a flame for some of the greatest music ever dreamed. --Andrew BartlettSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Ken Burns' "Jazz" gave me what I've been wanting for years--a clear, evocative, comprehensive way into the genre as a whole.
Okay, it may not be the last word on the history of jazz. Yeah, some things really irritated me--like the slighting, mentioned by many, of Bill Evans, and the excessive excision of many white musicians to make the generally accurate point that jazz springs more from the experience of Black Americans. (Hint to Burns: You make your argument stronger by showing how apparently contrary data fit, not by leaving them out.) But over all, I found this a very helpful overview. And I enjoyed getting to know the biographies of, and the personal relations among, the players.
You won't likely get such an orientation from buying a few of the original CDs *instead* of the "Jazz" series. Few of us have the ears or training to discern what's taught in this series. You'd be highly unlikely to realize that, for instance, what was new with Be-Bop is improvising on the underlying chord changes rather than the melody. You'd really have to be perceptive and paying attention to notice what distinguishes Kansas City jazz from New Orleans jazz from New York jazz from West Coast jazz. And *no* album can place *itself* in history. For instance, you cannot learn from listening to an album featuring Coleman Hawkins-or Charlie Christian or Kenny Clarke--that *before* that album people played very differently.Read more ›
I wish this would have been available when my Dad was still with us. He would have enjoyed it
even more than I.
You can learn all you need to know about the art of jazz by reading Bill Evans' liner notes on "Kind of Blue". Then, just listen with your soul. In a hundred years, Crouch and Marsalis will be on the ash heap of history and the true giants of jazz - Davis, Evans, Coltrane, Lateef, Monk, Shorter, Getz, et al, will live on. God bless them all.
Let's pretend that I don't know the first thing about the Kennedy assasination; in fact, let's say I didn't even know he was shot. Until I see Stone's JFK movie. And then when people who have explored the story for years start poking holes in Stone's account, I dismiss them as snobs. Or let's say I've watched Tammy and the T-Rex and I start going on about how realistic it is, and I shoot down any scientific or cinematographic objections as elitist party-pooping....
Look, this is not a great film, and the jazz-initiated needn't apologize for saying so. You've got a filmmaker who didn't know the slightest thing about the music when he started, and who relied heavily on the biased ear-whisperings of two of the most conservative, narrow jazz spokesmen you could find. If you want a lengthy bio of Louis Armstrong, it's here. If you want to learn about the Blues, you will. But if you want an in-depth look at what happens in bop, post-bop, free jazz, and early fusion, you won't learn much, if anything. You may walk away thinking that Elvin Jones played on Giant Steps, that Cecil Taylor was a charlatan, that "Hello Dolly" is more worthy of discussion than any of the high water marks of the 1960s, that there was only one true jazz record released in the 1970s. I mean, the more I think about this, the worse it gets.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One of the best documentaries I have seen. Great music, lots of good information. You will not go wrong with this one....Published 21 days ago by Lorne T. Patterson
The best Documentary I've ever watched on Jazz! I'm impressed with Ken Burns ' stylePublished 2 months ago by GhettoPrince29
It was a gift--and the people that received it were very pleasedPublished 4 months ago by henk willems
A history that should be taught in schools.It is the history of North American music and defines clearly what we listen to and why.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Un monument de la musique de jazz. Je ne cesse de revoir cette anthologie historique qui nous amène aux quatre coins de ce monde fascinant. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Luigi
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