My wife gave me the 10 DVD Box Set of this Ken Burns PBS documentary for Christmas and I have to say that it has been an eye/ear opening experience, and I've only watched 2 of the disc's so far.
If any of you guys or gals is interested in the origins of the only truly original form of American music, then this set is a "must own." I've always loved different types of music and researched various topics and styles when they really made an impact on me, but jazz music just seemed out of reach. I just couldn't understand how an artist could play this style of music and provide a different interpretation each time he/she played the same piece of music. Now I'm starting to get the hang of it, actually I'm starting to understand that I've missed the point for a long time!
Many of the images that I've seen so far are rather stark black & white photos and film clips, but they blend very well with the narration by Keith David, and commentary by a variety of writers, critics, and musicians. Foremost among these is Branford Marsalis, who exhibits a keen sense of his own racial history and how all of the social issues of the day helped mold the men and women that created this unique form of music. This is a man that really lives his music, not just another guy blowing a few notes.
The set includes a lot of history about the first jazz musicians, both Black and White, as well as how the music came to be. Some of the stories (so far) are both wonderful and reek of sadness in an instant. I'm learning a bit more each time I'm able to sit down and view the DVD's. My wife has always liked jazz but that fact was lost on me entirely, I guess I'm not as good of a communicator as I thought. It was surprising to me to find out how much she knows about a style of music that I'm just starting to grasp. She commented that watching had brought back a lot of things that she had learned about jazz when she was in school. ( Uhhhh!?! You like this stuff......You knew this already.....Where did you learn that? Yeah I really know my wife!)
Watching this series has caused an epiphany of sorts for me, kind of like Richard Dreyfuss in "Mr. Holland's Opus" when he is explaining his first experience with a John Coltrane album, "Finally, I just got it!" Well I haven't "got it" completely, but I'm on my way to a better appreciation of Jazz and what makes it work.
If you're interested in learning more about this fantastic set, click