As the 1930s come to a close, Swingmania is still going strong, but some fans are saying success has made the music too predictable. Their ears are tuned to a new sound - pulsing, stomping, suffused with the blues. It's the Kansas City sound of Count Basie's band and it quickly reignites the spirit of Swing.
In 1929, America enters a decade of economic desperation, as the Stock Market collapses and the Great Depression begins. Factories fall silent, farms fall into decay, and a quarter of the nation's workforce is jobless. In these dark times, jazz is called upon to lift the spirits of a frightened country, and finds itself poised for a decade of explosive growth.
In the late 1950s, America's postwar prosperity continues, but beneath the surface run currents of change. Families move to the suburbs, watching television becomes the national pastime, and baby boomers begin coming of age.
The final instalment of Ken Burns' acclaimed series - canvassing 1960 to the present - finds jazz searching for relevance. Musicians and critics alike begin to debate the future and tradition of jazz.
A generation of musicians, faced with the overwhelming genius of Charlie Parker, embraces the challenge of moving beyond his innovations. The visionary pianist, Thelonius Monk, infuses bebop with his eccentric personality to create a music all his own, while John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet refine bebop's balance between improvisation and composition. Except for musicians, the Beats and true jazz initiates, few people are listening to Parker and bebop. Traditionalists complain that it is musical noise, while Louis Armstrong, the first jazz revolutionary, mocks it, too.
The postwar years bring America to a level of prosperity unimaginable a decade before, but the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation makes these anxious years as well. In jazz, this underlying tension will be reflected in the broken rhythms and dissonant melodies of bebop, and in the troubled life of bebop's biggest star, Charlie Parker.
As the 1940s begin and war overshadows everything else, jazz is changing. In a Harlem club called Minton's Playhourse, a small band of young musicians, led by the trumpet virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie and the brilliant saxophonist Charlie Parker discover an exhilarating new way of playing which is fast, intricate and sometimes chaotic. When America finally enters the war in 941, big band music is part of the arsenal, boosting morale both at home and for the troops overseas.
This series explores the history of the major American musical form. As the 40s begin and war overshadows everything else, jazz is changing.
As the Great Depression drags on, Jazz comes as close as it has ever come to being America's popular music, providing entertainment and escape for a people down on their luck. It has a new name now - Swing - and for millions of young fans, it will be the defining music of their generation.
As the stock market continues to soar, jazz is everywhere in America. Now, for the first time, soloists and singers take centre stage, transforming the music with their distinctive voices and the unique stories they have to tell.
Speakeasies, flappers, and easy money: it is the Jazz Age, when the story of jazz becomes a tale of two great cities, Chicago and New York, and of two extraordinary artists whose lives and music will span almost three-quarters of a century - Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Armstrong, a fatherless waif who grew up on the mean streets of New Orleans, develops his great gift - his unparalleled musical genius - with the help of King Oliver, the city's top cornetist.
Jazz begins in New Orleans, 19th century America's most cosmopolitan city, where the sound of marching bands, Italian opera, Caribbean rhythms, and minstrel shows fill 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.
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