Jazz - A Film by Ken Burns

( 8 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
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, ...
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Special Features

Disc 1 ("Gumbo"): 43 music-information cards; "Making of Jazz" featurette.
Disc 2 ("The Gift"): 54 music-information cards; complete performance of "I Cover the Waterfront" by Louis Armstrong (1933, 3 minutes 30 seconds.
Disc 3 ("Our Language"): 57 music-information cards.
Disc 4 ("The True Welcome"): 52 music-information cards.
Disc 5 ("Swing - Pure Pleasure"): 52 music-information cards.
Disc 6 ("Swing - The Velocity of Celebration"): 49 music-information cards.
Disc 7 ("Dedicated to Chaos"): 51 music-information cards; complete performance of "C-Jam Blues" by Duke Ellington ('42, 3 minutes).
Disc 8 ("Risk"): 56 music-information cards.
Disc 9 ("A Masterpiece by Midnight"): 41 music-information cards; complete performance of "New Rumba" by Miles Davis ('59, 4 minutes, 25 seconds).
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
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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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/28/2004
  • UPC: 097368858046
  • Rating:

  • Source: Pbs Paramount
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 19:00:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 53,783

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Ken Burns Director
Geoffrey C. Ward Source Author
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    soulful, inspiring, only slightly flawed

    of course people are going to criticize this documentary -- jazz, and jazz musicians, are hotly debated. in spite of all the arguments over it, burns' documentary is a fascinating voyage through jazz history, offering rare footage and photographs of the people and places that shaped jazz. i agree that there is too much focus on armstrong and ellington, and not enough on miles, coltrane, and bird -- but that doesn't render the entire documentary worthless in my eyes. burns does an excellent job of matching the background music with the photographs and narration, and the narrative flow of the episodes is gripping. the story of jazz is definintely a distinctly american story, and one that every person in our country should know. the best part about the documentary is that all generations of people are watching, and reminiscing. my grandmother and mother are both following the series, and telling stories about where they were at the time certain bands were popular. it's really opening up a dialogue among different generations. i think ken burns has created a lasting piece of art with this documentary.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    6 Stars

    Being a jazz musician myself, I totally enjoyed every minute of this documentary, which is extremely thorough and enlightening. Anyone who wants to learn more about the development of American music absolutely must see this. There is no denying that jazz, especially the blues, has influenced almost every modern form of music there is, and this documentary certainly gives one an appreciation for those musicians who paved the way. The commentators, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Crouch, and Gary Giddins, do a marvelous job of providing insight, especially Marsalis, who demonstrates a great depth of knowledge of jazz history. I especially enjoyed Marsalis¿ trumpet interludes, where he closely emulated the sounds of various musicians from different eras, showing the time he has spent closely studying and listening to recordings of his jazz forefathers. The coverage of the foundations of jazz, of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and other jazz giants is very well done, and not only is the information comprehensive, but the photos, background music, and narration are all masterfully done. The only drawback I saw was the lack of coverage of younger jazz musicians, but there are so many talented up and coming jazz talents that covering every influential jazz artist ever would have turned this documentary into a 50-hour marathon. At 19-hours, the documentary is extensive enough, and there is not a minute wasted. Overall, this documentary is jam-packed with intriguing stories about the development of jazz, and is an absolute must-see.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Better than a college class

    This series ran the same time I was taking a history of jazz class in college with a teacher that was more of a jazz musician than a professor. I was thrilled to come home each night and go much more indepth than what we had covered that day. It made jazz more interesting as well as a lot easier to learn. If I would have known about this series earlier, I would have spent the money on the videos and taken ceramics. Ken Burns has a way of drawing the viewer in and making it impossible to get bored or side tracked while watching. A must for anyone who wants to learn about jazz or anyone who thinks they already know all there is to know about it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Simply the Best

    This is an enjoyable history of jazz. It starts before the turn of the century and ends in the late 60's (token coverage of the modern jazz giants). The presentation is flawless. A must see for those interested in jazz and Black history in the 20th century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The spirit of American Music is alive and well in Ken Burns' masterful portrayal of the music born out of the American experience

    Although I have only caught snippets of Mr. Burns' fabulous documentary about Jazz, I have to say it makes me wonder why the music of today has become stagnant, yes even the Jazz of today. Not that all the music is bad, we still have some artists who will become legends like the Beatles, Sting, Acoustic Alchemy and the like, but most music today does not move us like the music created by the artists depicted in the documentary, like Satchmo, the Duke, the Count, the Bird, and Dizzy. These musicians created a sound that no matter who we are, what color, or creed, or political affiliation, or religious beliefs, or musical inclinations we have, whether classical, country, or other, we can not help but to physically move and snap our fingers. The Power of the music notwithstanding, the documentary does bring to light the horrible american past. I am in my forties, and I still can not believe that this sociopathic behavior of a nation was, in the scheme of our history, only but a few years ago, (and sadly it still exists, perhaps not as vicious as then, but it is still here). Burns Juxtaposes the beauty of Jazz and the ugliness of Racism, and succeeds in giving us another piece of that which we call America. Great Job Mister Burns.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Ken Burns Jazz

    Done in usual Ken Burns style. Thorough, entertaining, well laid out. Thanks for a great series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    ...And That's What Jazz Music Is

    I've always wanted to take a systematic look at Jazz and, accordingly, dutifully watched all 18 hours of Ken Burns's documentary. I don't feel that my investment of time was well-served, and I even feel that my good faith as a viewer was abused by those with an agenda to serve. The ultimate irony is that this documentary took away from an appreciation for the music that I already had. Indeed, watching this uninspired, academic, and surprisingly old-fashioned treatment of jazz came to feel, by the series' end, like a chore. That's not going to get me listening to the music, which is what a series like this ought to inspire. I felt held hostage by pedantic and arrogant commentators: Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Crouch, Gary Giddins. These three, upon whom Burns relies extensively to tell his story, bring to their editorializing a preachy, self-serving tone that feels, at times, as if they are trying to will jazz back into mainstream appreciation. They all know that jazz doesn't enjoy the popularity it once did, and their tacit assumption seems to be that hyperbole and unsubstantiated declarations of genius are all that's needed to transport us back to the swing era. Marsalis is fond of saying: ''...and that's what jazz music is.'' You'd be flat drunk if you devised a drinking game around the various permutations of that phrase that come out of Marsalis's mouth. He is also just humorlous and pious to the point of absolute tedium. I found myself cringing every time I heard his voice and knowing that Burns would give him free reign yet again. Ditto for Giddins. Giddins, more intellectual than Marsalis, plays fast and loose with the word ''genius.'' That word really tells me nothing other than that Giddins himself worships these musicians; it doesn't help me to understand or appreciate their contributions at all. It's as if by merely calling people geniuses (Armstrong, Ellington -- everyone), Giddins thinks that he can recruit us and make jazz lovers of us. It'll take more than that. Crouch, finally, is just plain ridiculous. Anyone who's ever read his liner notes on jazz albums knows that he wields his supposed cultural authority with broad sweeps and absurd generalities. It all comes back to everyone being a genius. They say that Jazz is dead. I almost found myself wishing for that -- if for no other reason than just to shut up these three insufferable and pompous bores. Calling something ''boring'' is almost as vague as calling Louis Armstrong a ''genius.'' It's hard to back up, and one man's boredom is another's delight. For those, however, who would prefer fact over PR and a balance of commentators who were really there (as opposed to Marsalis, who is just worshipping his heroes), I can tell you that this documentary -- at 18 hours! -- will be as boring as Armstrong surely is, by any measure, a genius.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews