Video

Jazz: The History, part 1, Gumbo (Ken Burns)

18 Nov

“JAZZ begins in New Orleans, nineteenth century America’s most cosmopolitan city, where the sound of marching bands, Italian opera, Caribbean rhythms, and minstrel shows fills the streets with a richly diverse musical culture. Here, in the 1890s, African-American musicians create a new music out of these ingredients by mixing in ragtime syncopations and the soulful feeling of the blues. Soon after the start of the new century, people are calling it jazz.
Tonight, meet the pioneers of this revolutionary art form: the half-mad cornetist Buddy Bolden, who may have been the first man to play jazz; pianist Jelly Roll Morton, who claimed to have invented jazz but really was the first to write the new music down; Sidney Bechet, a clarinet prodigy whose fiery sound matched his explosive personality; and Freddie Keppard, a trumpet virtuoso who turned down a chance to win national fame for fear that others would steal the secrets of his art.

The early jazz players travel the country in the years before World War I, but few people have a chance to hear this new music until 1917, when a group of white musicians from New Orleans arrives in New York to make the first jazz recording. They call themselves the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and within weeks their record becomes an unexpected smash hit. Americans are suddenly jazz crazy, and the Jazz Age is about to begin. ”

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