“Story Of America’s Music”

Ken Burns Film Reviews The Development of Jazz

Cover Of Box Set, Ken Burns Jazz, Sony Legacy, 2015

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. –PBS Wisconsin

The accompanying set of CD recordings is superb. Those well-informed on the topic have a legitimate argument that the film doesn’t fully capture the history of jazz in the U.S. However, it is the best primer on the market for my tastes. What’s more, viewers will get a precise overview of the impact of Louis Armstrong on the genre — an appropriate tribute to a worthy legend. Jonathan

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Stories