Jazz - A Film By Ken Burns  [DVD]
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Ken Burns directs this documentary series chronicling the history of jazz. During the 1920s, coronetist Buddy Bolden might have been the man who invented jazz, but it was pianist Jelly Roll Morton who claimed that mantle when he became the first man to write the new form down. Other jazz pioneers featured include clarinet prodigy Sidney Bechet, trumpet player Freddie Keppard, and 1920s talents Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.
The BBC, sceptical about the British appetite for extended documentary programmes, edited Ken Burns' epic 17-hour history Jazz back to around 12 hours. That's what's presented in this box set of the series, and while the flow of the original is preserved, so are its idiosyncrasies. The film dwells at length on early jazz, particularly on its origins in New Orleans, and there's a good deal of absorbing history here. On the other hand, in suggesting that the important work of jazz was done by 1975, Burns gives us cause to question how much of his earlier research is awry too. There isn't much here to reflect the brimming vitality of post-1960s jazz, and many listeners and musicians have been enraged by Burns' neglect of such pivotal figures as Joe Zawinul, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker--all players whose work responds vigorously to the question that Burns thinks nobody can answer: "Where are the modern equivalents of Armstrong, Ellington, Parker and Coltrane?"
Armstrong and Ellington are the touchstones of Burns' film, providing the narrative thread around which the stories of other major figures turn, among them Bechet, Basie, Goodman, Parker, Miles Davis and Coltrane. Burns also finds populist mileage in the politicisation of jazz, making dramatic capital out of racial divides that most jazz players, black and white, have ignored. The fact is that almost all jazz players, regardless of race, have felt like outsiders. Despite such distractions, Jazz is the longest jazz documentary yet produced, and it's rich in musical examples and classic, rare and unseen footage. Even when working with simple stills, Burns uses seductive camera work and Keith David's epigrammatic narration to maximum effect. There's plenty to enjoy here, but viewers should be aware, as Joshua Redman points out in Musicians' Views in our Ken Burns' Jazz shop, that Burns' film is an often compelling perspective on jazz, not a definitive study. --Mark GilbertSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
My second complaint--as a professional singer/pianist, a more important one: the glory of doing a documentary on a living art form is that there are so many seminal artists of it still performing today, let alone still living and wanting to talk about it. It was amazing to hear such special communicators like Wynton, Stanley Crouch, Gerald Early, Giddins, Jon Hendricks, Branford, Charlie Parker's first drummer Stan Levy, Artie Shaw, or Bird's widow Chan Parker and the like share powerful insights and stories.Read more ›
I have a question. Since the original was around 19 hours, why is it that this British four DVD edition is only around 12 hours and probably the same length as the edited BBC showing? The American version is 12 DVD and presumably is the full length presentation. The 12 DVD version is available to UK customers on Amazon.co.uk, and for not much more than we pay for the shorter British version, but customers will no doubt pay duty and VAT at 20% on top of the US price.
WHY DO WE BRITS GET AN INFERIOR PRODUCT?
WHY DOESN'T AMAZON UK MAKE THE FULL SHOW AVAILABLE TO LOYAL BRITISH JAZZ FANS?
Winton Marsalis provides an inspired understanding of the roots of Jazz from the black American slaves up to the Be-bop era in the 1950s and 1960s. His light and easy manner will convey every morsel of his own enthusiasm to the viewer. The way he picks up his trumpet and is able to play the architypal elements of the individual musician - with feeling, is astounding.
The four DVDs are over 12 hours long and are divided into episodes: The Gift; Pure Pleasure; Dedicated to Chaos and A Masterpiece at Midnight.
Each covers an esential part in the development of Jazz, with decent length, original footage of the musicians and bands, history and background of the individuals and a feel for the way fashions of the time influenced and changed the face of Jazz.
If Jazz is your thing and you want to have an informed and easily followed history of American Jazz - you will not be disappointed. Excellent!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not yet viewed but watched some exerts from the TV seriesPublished 6 months ago by Mrs. A. M. Maskell
It gives in depth chronicle about jazz. Superb documentary money well spentPublished 10 months ago by Richard Addy
Magnificent deep retelling of jazz history , even if it seems deeply baffled once we get to post bebep explorations. But there are clips and photos and . Read morePublished 10 months ago by david hinton
I've loved every minute of the series. Great historical keepsake.Published 10 months ago by yomi layinka
Excellent history of jazz for lovers of jazz.Many lesser known facts about specific musicians I had never heard before.Highly reccommended!Published 13 months ago by John Rautenbach
Husband really liked this. It is a great historical insight into the life of jazz.Published 18 months ago by Isabella