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PBS: Jazz (Documentary)

Veggie Dave

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#3
Its fairly accurate factually.
The one thing that grates for me is how often it approaches racism and segregation in a way that seems to be designed to not deny it happened but to either not offend the white viewer and/or not be too contentious for potential broadcasters.

It's not too bad and I can understand why they would do that (from a commercial perspective) but I think it does an injustice to the people involved.
 

Veggie Dave

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#5
@Veggie Dave do not forget the documentary is made for an American (US) audience and their perspective on racism is very different to ours (Europeans).
You could be right. I think, however, that it's a commercial decision to limit possible offence without denying its existence.

If anyone's reading this and is now is being put off watching it because of this discussion, I have to reiterate that it's not a big problem with the series. I think it's a genuine criticism, but not a big one.

If you read Cat's of any colors, you'll see that even Canadians have a different perspective on it.
Another book to read!

;)

Some Googling suggests racism is a fascinating subject when viewed in the context of jazz - indeed, given where jazz came from you'd think it would be impossible to be a white jazz fan and be racist but I saw a 'musician wanted' ad recently posted by a jazz-loving white supremacist - but perhaps this is not the place for that discussion.
 

Jazzaferri

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#8
America still struggles with racism in a significant way. Hard to figure but when I was little there were still black Americans alive who were born into slavery. Once that was technically unlawful they went in for indentured servitude which still goes on today. Probably a bit that in every country.
 

Veggie Dave

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#10
I wish it had paid less homage to Winton Marsalis and more to Cannonball Adderly. :(
He does seem to be their 'go to' guy for some reason.

Wish it was available here, would be great to watch
The PBS channel is available as a streaming channel on Amazon UK or you can buy the DVDs from Amazon.com (yes, they happily ship to the UK and our customs don't mind - as long as it's not porn or a horror film) but you would need a region-free DVD player.
 

Veggie Dave

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#12
I had no idea you were in Australia. I did check your location before I posted but there's nothing there.

As for the DVD player, most players can be changed to region free by entering a simple code on the remote or entering a service menu. If the details aren't in the operating instructions then a Google should show you how.

Bizarrely, if you have a Blu-ray player then you can make it region free for DVDs but not for Blu-ray.
 

altissimo

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#13
It's been a few years since Ken Burns' Jazz was on the telly, but it stirred up a fair amount of controversy due to the way it glossed over later developments in jazz and relied heavily on neo-conservative Wynton Marsalis and his mentor Stanley Crouch, so a lot of important figures in post war jazz get sidelined and jazz fusion hardly gets a mention. He concentrates on a few important musicians and leaves out others who made significant advances in jazz - I don't recall much mention of Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner or Art Pepper and there's a definite shortage of guitarists, drummers and bass players.
Still, it's good at some things and certainly worth a look.. and then you can read the criticism
How Ken Burns Murdered Jazz
Listening but not hearing: the Ken Burns version
Bill EvansWebpages: KEN BURNS "JAZZ"
https://www.amherst.edu/media/view/...jazz+history+as+a+contested+cultural+site.pdf
Ken Burns Essay | Jazz | Pop Culture

and Matt Glaser's defence -
Matt Glaser, advisor to Ken Burns’ Jazz


if there's a failing it's that documentaries like this and the recent Chasing Trane film are made by documentary makers rather than jazz specialists and so they have to find an angle to view it from rather than looking for the truth. And so Burns views jazz from the point of view of a few heroic figures rather than the collective endeavour of many thousands of creative musicians. Of course it's not possible to include even a fraction of all the history of jazz into one series and a 3 hour documentary could be made about each of it's innovators and still not cover enough ground. Burns at least did something, but his concentration on the swing/big band era and ignor-ance of the music of the 60's and beyond gives an unbalanced view of what jazz is. We've lost a lot of good musicians since 2001 so it's too late to interview them now,
 
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#14
I don't recall much mention of Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner or Art Pepper and there's a definite shortage of guitarists, drummers and bass players.
I watched the series numerous times and enjoyed it greatly. There are two versions of this: one is divided into ten episodes (the American edition) and there is a longer (European version) of (perhaps) 12 episodes.Or perhaps the number of episodes are the same, but the longer version runs at hour and a half, where as the shorter only an hour per episode.
Bud was mentioned a couple of times next to Monk. Horace Silver was mentioned next to Jazz Messengers, Bill Evans ( The piano player) during the Kind of Blue sessions, McCoy Tyner with Coltrane, Dophy too, Art Pepper wasn't mentioned at all. But my understanding is, that the Jazz Giants that they mentioned were innovators of the style, and I'm not sure Art falls under that category. One Giant that doesn't get a mention however is Erroll Garner who's rythmic inovations in playing the piano are significant.
 
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altissimo

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#15
I watched the series numerous times and enjoyed it greatly. There are two versions of this: one is divided into ten episodes (the American edition) and there is a longer (European version) of (perhaps) 12 episodes.Or perhaps the number of episodes are the same, but the longer version runs at hour and a half, where as the shorter only an hour per episode.
Bud was mentioned a couple of times next to Monk. Horace Silver was mentioned next to Jazz Messengers, Bill Evans ( The piano player) during the Kind of Blue sessions, McCoy Tyner with Coltrane, Dophy too, Art Pepper wasn't mentioned at all. But my understanding is, that the Jazz Giants that they mentioned were innovators of the style, and I'm not sure Art falls under that category. One Giant that doesn't get a mention however is Erroll Garner who's rythmic inovations in playing the piano are significant.
I said 'much' not 'any' - a lot of these people are only mentioned in passing and as sidemen..
the lack of interviews with great and still living jazz musicians like Sonny Rollins is peculiar, unless their views were at odds with the narrative Burns is trying to portray.
This critique is worth reading - Ken Burns Essay | Jazz | Pop Culture
 

saxyjt

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#17
I watched this a few years ago, with some interest as I like jazz, but was also annoyed by Wynton Marsalis who's not in my opinion a good Jazz expert. Way too biased in his approach, living aside many important contributors.

But then there are so many good reads on the subject. I don't like a single view, but enjoy reading reports of what the greats said when they met writers/journalists. Born under the sign of Jazz for example is a good read. It's not new, but includes sections on John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins that are worth it.

I have just received another Ted Gioia book that was on my wish list (The Imperfect Art) and ordered his History of jazz. I already have his book on jazz standards that is an interesting resource when you want to find some background informations and a list of reknown versions that are not just based on youtube/Google search.

Now, as always, when you see a documentary on a subject that you have researched/studied yourself, not to mention knowing it intimately, you are disappointed... It doesn't take away the fact that it's author did his best to present the subject with the contributors he found ready to collaborate. Not many Great Jazz players that shaped our landscape are still around and obtaining an interview with the living legends may not be that easy. On the other hand there are some more political people that will always be around when needed!
 

saxyjt

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#18
For what it's worth, I did a search on Ken Burns and Google shows a list of his documentaries. About 30 of them are listed, but it doesn't include the one on Jazz...