No one description of jazz adequately outlines this ever changing music; no definition can pinpoint simply when and where it all began, nor even settle when the name "jazz" took hold over variants like "jass" or "Jasz." The spelling of the word took years to stabilize. Jazz represents a multiformity of musical ideas and originating influences.
1900s / 1910s / 1920s / 1930s / 1940s
1950s / 1960s / 1970s / 1980s / 1990s
New Orleans Jazz
"JELLY ROLL" MORTON
Jazz by definition originates in swinging rhythms, music virtuosity, and the exuberant spirit of improvisation. Jazz, a film by Ken Burns, harnesses the power and joy of this uniquely American art form, sculpting a celebration of the music, the musicians, and jazz's impact on the world. In sheer scope, nothing in the history of the jazz documentary comes close to matching it. Six years in the making, the film traces jazz's various tributaries and branches , including blues, ragtime, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, avant-garde, fusion, and contemporary jazz.
Ever the great archivist, Burns has mined some breathtaking footage. Among the rarities he's unearthed: never-before-broadcast footage of Charlie Parker and of Count Basie's band featuring legendary saxophonist Lester "Pres" Young. Burns has also assembled thoroughly engaging onscreen commentary by major musicians -- Wynton Marsalis and Dave Brubeck -- and influential critics, including Stanley Crouch and Gary Giddins.
Running in 10 episodes over 19 hours, both the DVD and VHS editions of the series offer a riveting stream of classic jazz performances, images, and historical insight, plus thousands of photographs and numerous filmed performances. The DVD also boasts a making-of featurette and three additional performances that will not be broadcast, making Jazz an unparalleled archival feast.
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