To watch this series, check out the DVDs or click the links to streaming video.
The call number for the discs is DVD ML3508.J39 2000 (10 discs)
Part 1: GumboThe story of jazz begins in New Orleans, 19th-century America’s most cosmopolitan city. Here, in the 1890s, African-American artists created a new music out of ragtime syncopations, Caribbean rhythms, marching band instrumentation, and the soulful feeling of the blues. This program introduces the pioneers of this revolutionary art form: half-mad cornet player Buddy Bolden, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, clarinet prodigy Sidney Bechet, trumpet virtuoso Freddie Keppard, and others. Viewers learn that while the early jazz players roamed the country in the years before World War I, few people outside New Orleans had a chance to hear the new music—until 1917, when a group of white musicians from New Orleans, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, arrived in New York to make the first jazz recording. The Jazz Age was about to begin. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 2: The GiftThe flowering of the Jazz Age is a tale of two great cities, Chicago and New York, and two extraordinary artists whose achievements spanned nearly three-quarters of a century. Louis Armstrong was a fatherless waif who grew up on the rough streets of New Orleans, developing his extraordinary gifts before moving to Chicago, where his transcendent sound inspired a new generation of musicians. Duke Ellington, raised in middle-class comfort, outgrew the society music of Washington, D.C., and headed for Harlem, where he formed a band and created a music all his own. This program also tells the stories of Paul Whiteman, a white bandleader who sold millions of records playing a sweet, symphonic jazz, and Fletcher Henderson, a black bandleader who packed the whites-only Roseland Ballroom with his bold arrangements. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 3: Our LanguageThe stock market surged through the 1920s and jazz was everywhere in America. Now, for the first time, soloists and singers took center stage, transforming the music with distinctive voices and unique stories. This program introduces Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, whose songs eased the pain of life for millions of black Americans; Bix Beiderbecke, the first great white jazz star, inspired by Louis Armstrong to dedicate his life to the music; and two brilliant sons of Jewish immigrants, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, for whom jazz offered an escape from the ghetto. Viewers also follow Duke Ellington’s exploits at the Cotton Club and his entry into radio, which brought him national fame, as well as Louis Armstrong’s return to Chicago, where he was now billed as “The World’s Greatest Trumpet Player” and charted the future of jazz. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 4: The True WelcomeWith farms and factories falling victim to the Great Depression, jazz was one of the few American industries poised for explosive growth. This program explores the art form during the first half of the decade, a period in which New York City usurped Chicago as America’s jazz capital, Louis Armstrong revolutionized Broadway songcraft, and Chick Webb forged his big-band sound at the Savoy Ballroom. Viewers also learn of pianists Fats Waller and Art Tatum, who dazzled audiences with stunning virtuosity; of Duke Ellington’s ongoing compositional artistry, praised in many quarters as rivaling Stravinsky’s work in sophistication; of Benny Goodman’s adventures in nationwide broadcasting, which showcased not only his own talents but the stunning arrangements of Fletcher Henderson; and of Goodman’s swinging triumph at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 5: Swing: Pure PleasureAs the Depression dragged on, jazz came as close as it ever would to being America’s popular music. Now it was often called swing, and, as this program illustrates, it became the defining music of a generation. Suddenly, jazz bandleaders were the new matinee idols, with Benny Goodman hailed as the “King of Swing,” while teenagers jitterbugged just as hard to the music of his rivals: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Glenn Miller, and the mercurial Artie Shaw. But viewers will discover that the spirit of swing wasn’t limited to the dance floor. In New York, Billie Holiday emerged from a tragic childhood to begin her career as the greatest of all female jazz singers. And in Chicago, Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson proved that, despite segregation, there was room in jazz for great black and white musicians to swing side-by-side on stage. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 6: Swing: The Velocity of CelebrationAs the 1930s drew to a close, swing mania was still going strong, but some fans were saying success had made the music too predictable. Their ears were tuned to a new sound, suffused with the blues—the Kansas City sound of Count Basie’s band, which ignited new musical adventures. By 1938, Basie and his men were helping Benny Goodman bring jazz to Carnegie Hall. Soon Basie’s lead saxophonist, Lester Young, was challenging Coleman Hawkins for supremacy, then teaming up with Billie Holiday for a series of recordings that revealed them as musical soul mates—although Holiday eventually wound up back in New York, pouring outrage into the antilynching ballad, “Strange Fruit.” With war looming in Europe, Duke Ellington was hailed as a hero and Coleman Hawkins startled the world with a glimpse of what jazz would become. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 7: Dedicated to ChaosWhen America entered World War II, jazz became part of the arsenal, with bandleaders like Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw taking their swing to troops overseas. For many black Americans, however, that sound had a hollow ring. Segregated at home and in uniform, they found themselves fighting for liberties their own country denied them—as when authorities padlocked the integrated Savoy Ballroom. Still, jazz answered the call. Duke Ellington sold war bonds and premiered the tone portrait Black, Brown, and Beige as a benefit for war relief. But underground, jazz was still evolving. In a Harlem club called Minton’s Playhouse, trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker had discovered a new way of playing—fast, intricate, and sometimes chaotic. Once “bebop” broke loose, jazz would never be the same. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 8: RiskThe social tensions underlying America’s postwar prosperity were reflected in the broken rhythms and dissonant melodies of bebop—and in the troubled life of Charlie Parker. Nicknamed “Bird,” Parker demonstrated ideas and techniques as overwhelming for musicians of his generation as Louis Armstrong’s had been a quarter-century before. But Parker wasn’t the only bebop innovator. Dizzy Gillespie tried to popularize the new sound by adding showmanship and Latin rhythms, while pianist Thelonius Monk infused it with his eccentric personality. Alas, pop singers were the rage. Searching for a new audience, California musicians opted for cool and mellow and Dave Brubeck stirred in classical influences. But one man remained determined to give jazz popular appeal on his own terms—the trumpet player and one-time Parker sideman Miles Davis. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns.
Part 9: The AdventureAmid the rise of suburbia, television, rock ‘n’ roll, and the baby boom generation, jazz lost a beloved and burned-out star: Billie Holiday. But the music still had its two guiding lights. In 1956, the first year Elvis topped the charts, Duke Ellington recaptured the nation’s ear with a performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. The next year, Louis Armstrong made headlines when he condemned racism in Little Rock, Arkansas—risking his career while musicians who dismissed him as an Uncle Tom stayed silent. But the leading light of the era was Miles Davis—a catalyst constantly forming new groups to showcase different facets of his stark, introspective sound. Then, as the turbulent Sixties arrived, two saxophonists took jazz further into uncharted terrain—John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Part 10: A Masterpiece by MidnightDixieland, swing, bebop, modal, free, avant-garde—these were some of the terms critics used during the 1960s to categorize the diverse manifestations of jazz music. As for the artists themselves, many were desperate for work and headed for Europe, including bebop saxophone master Dexter Gordon. At home, jazz sought relevance. During the civil rights struggle it became a voice of protest, while avant-garde explorer John Coltrane reached for a higher consciousness with A Love Supreme and Miles Davis combined jazz with rock ‘n’ roll to launch a wildly popular sound called Fusion. The loss of pioneers Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in the 1970s seemed to mark the end of the music itself. But Wynton Marsalis and a host of other artists, schooled in the music’s traditions, have ensured that jazz is reborn every night—vibrant, evolving, and still swinging. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes)
Icons Among Us
Icons among us: jazz in the present tense : you will never look at jazz, art, & life the same way again by Michael RivoiraComprehensive documentary film, looks at the jazz music scene today. Through interviews, performance footage, and the voices of the musicians themselves, we explore this music and the divergent influences that are shaping the world of jazz at the beginning of the 21st Century. Not a historical look at what has been called America's music but a timely, vibrant trip through the clubs, festival, and the lives of this new generation of jazz musicians. Never before has jazz music been so many different things to so many different people, from hip hop to bebop from jam band to free form, the music continues to grow and shape itself in ways as varied as the musicians who play it.
Call Number: DVD ML3506.I26 2010
Publication Date: 2009
Benny Goodman live at the Tivoli Gardens by Benny Goodman
Call Number: DVD M1366 .G663 B46 2005
Publication Date: 1981
Calle 54 by Fernando TruebaIntroduced to Latin jazz in the 1980s, when he was beginning his career as a director, Fernando Trueba has since become a devoted fan of the music. Noted jazz artists have scored for some of his films and he took his love of the music one step further in which he gathered together a number of his favorite Latin jazz artists for a series of interviews and performances.
Call Number: DVD ML3506.C35 2001
Publication Date: 2001
Charles Mingus: live in '64 by Charles Mingus
Call Number: DVD M1366.M56 C43 2007
Publication Date: 2007
Dexter Gordon: live in '63 & '64 by Dexter Gordon
Call Number: DVD M1366.G67 D49 2007
Publication Date: 2007
The Jazz Ambassadors by Mick Csaky and Hugo BerkeleyIn 1955, as the Soviet Union's pervasive propaganda about the U.S. and American racism spread globally, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. convinced President Eisenhower that jazz was the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict. For the next decade, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Dave Brubeck traveled the globe to perform as cultural ambassadors.
Call Number: DVD M1366 .J37 2018
Publication Date: 2018
Norah Jones & the Handsome Band: live in 2004 by Hamish Hamilton
Call Number: DVD M1630.18.J66 N67 2004
Publication Date: 2004
Thelonious Monk: American Composer by Matthew SeigA portrait of the musician and composer, Thelonious Monk, including clips of international performances and interviews with artists and producers.
Call Number: DVD ML417.M846T484 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Thelonious Monk: straight no chaser by Clint EastwoodA wide-ranging documentary that aims to put Monk's status into context and perspective. It blends the history of Monk's early career in Harlem with archival black-and-white footage of the pianist performing his own compositions for Norwegian and French TV.
Dizzy Gillespie: Jivin' in Be-BopRecorded at a time when Dizzy was fronting his fabled postwar big band, featuring jazz greats such as pianist John Lewis, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and bassist Ray Brown, this concert film captures the irrepressible trumpeter at his finest. In a format that was typical of the day, dancing acts and singers such as Helen Humes or Kenny "Pancho" Hagood were featured alongside the headlining Gillespie Orchestra—while Dizzy and his men enthusiastically attacking bebop classics such as "Salt Peanuts," "Shaw 'Nuff," and "Things to Come" remains thrilling to watch. All clips have been selected from the 1947 feature Jivin' in Be-Bop. (50 minutes)
Duke Ellington: The Big Band FeelingThis 1952 recording includes two performances of Duke Ellington and his orchestra—from January 7 and August 12—featuring 12 of his signature pieces, including "Sophisticated Lady," "Caravan," "The Mooch," "VP's Boogie," "Solitude," "Mood Indigo," "The Hawk Talks," "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," "Bli-Blip," "Flamingo," "Hot Chocolate," ("Cottontail") and "C Jam Blues." (43 minutes)
Jazz from Montreux [Ella Fitzgerald]BBC archivists recently unearthed a veritable treasure trove of over 2 hours of previously unreleased Ella Fitzgerald concerts recorded by the BBC. This is an added bonus performance from Jazz From Montreux (1977).
Jazz Shots: East Coast Volume 3Paying homage to the East coast and to some of the most important musicians who have spent a major part of their career there, this collection of live performances ranges from clubs to festivals to TV studio engagements. Artists include John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and more. (95 minutes)
Joe Lovano: Solos—The Jazz SessionsJoe Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1952, and began playing alto saxophone as a child. His father, tenor saxophonist Tony "Big T" Lovano, schooled young Joe in jazz dynamics and interpretation, and regularly exposed him to the live performances of international jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In this special set filmed for Solos The Jazz Sessions, Lovano uses a variety of horns and gongs to wind his way through several of his own compositions, some standards and some pure improvisations. (49 minutes)
Jungle Music: Jazz—All You Need Is Love: A History of Popular MusicThis film presents the creation of jazz throughout the U.S. south and its emergence in the north as a commodity. The following jazz artists are featured: Charles Mingus; Charlie Parker; Chick Corea; Count Basie; Dave Brubeck; Dizzy Gillespie; Duke Ellington; Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines; Louis Armstrong; Miles Davis; Hoagy Carmichael.
Pleasures of Being Out of StepNat Hentoff is one of the enduring voices of the last 65 years, a writer who championed jazz as an art form and was present at the creation of ‘alternative’ journalism in America. This unique documentary wraps the themes of liberty, identity and free expression around a historical narrative that stretches from the Great Depression to the Patriot Act. At the core of the film are three extraordinary, intimate conversations with Hentoff, plus additional interviews with such luminaries as Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Floyd Abrams, Aryeh Neier and Dan Morgenstern. Interwoven through it all is the sublime music of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Bob Dylan, along with never-before-seen photographs and archival footage of these artists and other cultural figures at the height of their powers.
TED Talks: Charles Limb: Your Brain on ImprovMusician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.
Thelonius Monk: Playful KeysThe musical language and highly idiosyncratic style of Thelonious Monk—so avant-garde in its day—is in many ways still considered avant-garde today. This program seeks to understand Monk’s innovative music by tracing the Harlem-born jazzman’s career. His childhood debut as accompanist for a touring preacher, years of searching for his own style, gradual acceptance by the public who had neglected him, eventual critical acclaim as a musical genius, and decline into mental illness are explored. (25 minutes)
Wynton Marsalis: All That JazzThe word "prodigy" might have been coined expressly for Wynton Marsalis, who won Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical music at the age of 22. This stylishly produced program opens at Wynton’s studio in New York City, where he talks about his philosophy, his compositional methods, and his laid-back yet demanding approach to working with other musicians. Halfway through, the program shifts to his swinging hometown of New Orleans, where he reflects on his musical roots, the history of jazz, and even Jelly Roll Morton. Intimate performance footage of Wynton, his band members, and his father Ellis is included. (56 minutes, b&w/color)