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A survey of the musical form's history and major talents.
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1  
2001  
Nominated for 5 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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 Narrator (10 episodes, 2001)
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Storyline

This series explores the history of the major American musical form. We track its development in African American culture, its rise to prominence with its golden age of popularity spanning from the 1920's to the mid 1940's both in its original form and in Swing through its popular decline and the rise of vital new sub-genres into the present day. Along the way, we learn of the lives and work of major contributors to the form such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Charlie "Bird" Parker and many others who helped form Jazz into the vibrant musical form it is. Moreover, we see how the music reflected the political and social issues of the African American community over the course of the form's history. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@home.com>

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8 January 2001 (USA)  »

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$13,000,000 (estimated)
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(10 episodes)

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1.33 : 1
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Referenced in American Dad!: Stan Time (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A huge disappointment.
10 March 2002 | by See all my reviews

Until viewing this documentary I thought it utterly fantastic that jazz could be boring. That belief was shattered by Ken Burns' disappointing "Jazz". Though it certainly contains immensely valuable archival footage, the mini-series as a whole is no more than traditionalist propaganda.

By all means, go to a jazz concert! Read Amiri Baraka's [LeRoi Jones'] "Blues People" & "Black Music" and Angela Davis' "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism" or Miles Davis' or Duke Ellington's memoirs. There are many other, better ways to learn about this uniquely American art form that abstain from this labored attempt to impose a narrow view of the jazz ideal (I mean how many *hours* of screen time should Wynton Marsalis really have?).

Those with an appreciation for the music and footage used in "Jazz" will either enjoy the rarities or laugh at the pompous presentation (or both). Those unfamiliar with anything related to jazz should know that this series presents a very slanted view of history. The lack of any objectivity led to critics almost universally panning "Jazz" on its release.


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