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Ken Burns Jazz? Really that stupid?

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*#1 PEASANT* 09 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM
Kim C 09 Jan 01 - 10:56 AM
Irish sergeant 09 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM
Lepus Rex 09 Jan 01 - 11:18 AM
M.Ted 09 Jan 01 - 11:30 AM
catspaw49 09 Jan 01 - 11:35 AM
Peter T. 09 Jan 01 - 12:35 PM
MMario 09 Jan 01 - 12:43 PM
catspaw49 09 Jan 01 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,LEJ 09 Jan 01 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Mrs. O'Leary's Cow 09 Jan 01 - 02:01 PM
mousethief 09 Jan 01 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 09 Jan 01 - 06:51 PM
Peter T. 09 Jan 01 - 07:07 PM
Irish sergeant 09 Jan 01 - 07:52 PM
catspaw49 09 Jan 01 - 09:25 PM
Sourdough 10 Jan 01 - 01:27 AM
Chanteyranger 10 Jan 01 - 02:34 AM
SeanM 10 Jan 01 - 02:57 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 01 - 03:25 AM
InOBU 10 Jan 01 - 06:31 AM
JedMarum 10 Jan 01 - 09:10 AM
Gern 10 Jan 01 - 09:29 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 10 Jan 01 - 11:59 AM
M.Ted 10 Jan 01 - 02:37 PM
Troll 10 Jan 01 - 02:38 PM
mousethief 10 Jan 01 - 02:43 PM
radriano 10 Jan 01 - 03:38 PM
Gern 10 Jan 01 - 05:16 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 10 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM
catspaw49 10 Jan 01 - 06:36 PM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 10 Jan 01 - 07:26 PM
catspaw49 10 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM
M.Ted 10 Jan 01 - 09:36 PM
catspaw49 10 Jan 01 - 09:46 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Jan 01 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,LEJ 11 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM
catspaw49 11 Jan 01 - 12:20 PM
Peter T. 11 Jan 01 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,LEJ 11 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM
catspaw49 11 Jan 01 - 12:58 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 11 Jan 01 - 02:07 PM
catspaw49 11 Jan 01 - 02:18 PM
M.Ted 11 Jan 01 - 02:24 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 11 Jan 01 - 02:31 PM
catspaw49 11 Jan 01 - 02:33 PM
Mark Clark 11 Jan 01 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Trish 11 Jan 01 - 04:51 PM
katlaughing 11 Jan 01 - 05:21 PM
MartinRyan 11 Jan 01 - 06:04 PM
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Subject: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM

Just watched Ken Burn's Jazz last night- a few observations-

*The only folk in North America with an improvisational music style in the early-mid 19th century were Black African or otherwise negro folk.

True according to Burns (I guess he never read about the Irish immigrants when he studied New Orleans)

*The European Ballad tradition contributed nothing to Jazz. Not structure not form not content not role in society

True according to Burns. He cites the Baptist hymn tradition contributing to Jazz as if the church music tradition came entirely on the slave ship.

*There was no white/european input into the "gumbo".

*The european bawdy tradition or in other words reisky (sp?) tradition of the brothels which clearly is around as early as the 16th century and also came on ships to the new world. Was not important. The bawdy style of the African ameican tradition was the first unique and only such tradition. I think the program said it was unique to black folk...

I do not discount the contribution of African Americans to the development of Jazz but please do not strain the white man or the european ingredients out of the gumbo.

It might of been interesting to have seen a discussion of the other european improvisational musical styles which were present in the big american cities, the hills and the countryside which showed how they contributed to Jazz or on the other hand failed to prosper. It is my opinion that european improvisational music/tradition not only formed a significant portion of the gumbo but that it also conditioned the reception of jazz styles of improvisation within the european/white population. Success of Jazz having not so much to do with its inherent goodness as with a longing for a lost improvisational medium.

Another point missed in the series seems to be the fact that jazz made for comercial consumption became much more codified and lacking in improvisation than the music of the back porches in the Delta.

Big band music imho seems to be quite stylized and perhaps became more so after the recording and publishing industries got hold of its packaging. The Glen Miller theme heard so often in the series is never played in any other way but the received standard lacking totally in improvisation. I find that Jazz was successful perhaps because it created a language of musical communication which was the very opposite of pure improvisation into which even a layman could plug in. But is this feature of musical language uniquely african or does it derive some essential ingredients from the musical language and schemes of the european ballad and other traditions?

The same is true of Irish music. As you move from the kitchen of the tenement or farm house toward tin pan alley do you not find that packaging has virtually eliminated improvisation and as the piano music will oft tell you it provies the music as once "played by" another, rather than for further improvisation.

A few thoughts. What do you think? Is the gumbo of Jazz being blackwashed?

Conrad


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Kim C
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 10:56 AM

I did not see the program, not being a jazz fan myself... but being an erstwhile sorta-historian, it's true that people who are around each other tend to borrow cultural things... food, clothing, music, etc. White European musical traditions spilled over into slave music and vice versa. We all have borrowed from each other and to imply otherwise is, I believe, misleading.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM

I really can't comment, my friend. I only caught the tail end of the segment and so missed all of what you're commenting on. I do hope, having seen some of his other work that you are wrong but I don't know. You make some valid points however. Kindest reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 11:18 AM

First Martin Luther King Jr. was Irish, now Jazz? What's next, Conrad? The Irish invented jheri-curls?

---Lepus Rex


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 11:30 AM

In the introduction, the narration mentions many times that jazz was a combination of influences from many cultures and many peoples, but it is notably lacking on details.

Of course, the influence of spanish improvisational music is completely overlooked, with the exeption of a quotation from Jelly Roll Morton on the Habanera rhythm. Since the improvisations, rhythms, and scales used in Jazz are closely related to spanish derived improvisational music, and since New Orleans was once a part of Spain, it seems like the could have spared a couple minutes for it--

Bottom line, though, is that the first episode was a mess--was it about music or about history? The text was a mish-mosh of things that have been said many time before, and better. The visuals were basically stock footage and stills, none of which were ever identified or explained, and the music that was played was generally not identified in th narration, some was old jazz, some wasn't, and some of it was connected to the visuals, while some wasn't--

Wynton Marsalis on some occasions explained bits about how the music worked, which was good, and he is an expert in this area, but he is probably not the best historian, biographer, or chronicaller--

Jelly Roll Morton, unless I am very much mistaken, was, in his time, regarded as an anachronism, and distained by many of the contemporary jazz musicians, because he played in an old style, rather than as an innovator, as he was presented--And what about all the other pianists of the teens and twenties? And what about W.C Handy?

No effort to distinguish between blues and jazz, no attempt to explain ragtime, the overnight pupularity of Jazz, and the ensuing"Jazz Age" were mentioned, but not a word about Paul Whiteman or Jean Goldkette--or Fletcher Henderson, for that matter--

It seems a lot like Burns spent most of his time hustling funding and promoting the series, and spent very little time or effort making it--


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 11:35 AM

But again Ted, the series Burns does are like primers. I thought it could have been better and Wynton was on way too much, but I thought it hit the other influences and the makeup of New Orleans population pretty well. I already posted that on the other thread, but yeah...it could have been better, but if you were only a casual listener to jazz, you'd have gotten a lot of things out of it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 12:35 PM

Perhaps the series is like a lot of other things -- like movies about a historical event -- that is really just a vehicle for a "topic space" for a few days or weeks associated with some heavy advertising. There is nothing wrong with getting people's attention about historical topics (I spend most of my time doing it), but these seem increasingly to be one hit wonders, and then disappear again, leaving them as the sole residue in the imagination. I think of the temporary fascination given to native indians by Dances With Wolves, ragtime music by The Sting, Gandhi with the film Gandhi, and many others I could name. It is a strange, unsettling process, and not very healthy. But Jazz will sell a lot of Jazz records, and some people will be turned on to it, so one's complaints are really I think part of a real fear that no one will ever hear about this subject again once the series is over. It won't be the first, it will be the only.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: MMario
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 12:43 PM

I did watch this last night, and saw more "shades of gray" then apparent from Conrad's post. INCLUDING the fact that the New Orleans Creoles considered themselves "white" up until the late 1800's. And the Creole influence on jazz was acknowledged.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 01:11 PM

Peter, phrased like that, you certainly have a point and one on which I might have to sadly agree.

Mario......The problem is that Conrad is capable only of seeing shades of orange.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 01:26 PM

Conrad makes some good points.Although Burns points out that New Orleans in the 18th Century was a cultural gumbo of Blacks,Creoles,French,Germans and Italians,he cites as the only european contributions the Creole Symphony/Opera Brass influence and the widespead availability of horns leftover from Civil War brass bands.There can be no doubt of the fact that the direct sire of Jazz was the Blues music that came exclusively from the Black music.But the heavy emphasis on Improvisation as the essence of Jazz yields an assumption that all orchestrated (Big Band,for example)Jazz is a mutation of the original intent,and also minimizes traditional classical and orchestral influences.Because WC Handy was principally a composer,and is usually cited as a Father of the Blues,Burns seems to be comfortable with omitting him from his history of Jazz,and this omission is regrettable and misleading.

From a standpoint of getting the flavor and zest of the early innovators,Burns scores high marks.Marsalis' commentaries are also quite on-target in my opinion,and on the whole (despite my comments above) I'm enjoying the series very much.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 02:01 PM

Ken Burns is not at all stupid. He is the mastermind of an elaborate plot to completely discredit the Irish from their rightful place in history as the true inventors of jazz.

Burns is being aided and abetted in this project by the powers that be at such organizations as PBS and the McArthur Foundation. We know from past experience that these organizations exist primarily to discredit the Irish. It's well known, for example, that Austin City Limits was conceived as a showcase for Irish music, an idea that was vetoed because of the vendetta against the Irish being conducted by PBS.

And, for the record, I did not start that fire in Chicago. It was the little black boy that Mrs. O'Leary hired to milk me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: mousethief
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 04:26 PM

Hey cow, you're not fooling me. Mrs. O'Leary's cow died in that fire, and besides that was over 100 years ago. You're probably not even a cow at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 06:51 PM

I am sitting and watching this series with my on and off tape button in hand in hopes I'll capture a few bits of wonderful video that I've never seen. From the entire episode last night I managed to get about 20 minutes of decent video tape. There might be some of Louie A. tonight that's worth recording. And just a bit of Duke Ellington. Other than that, it's fun to pick and choose the same way I picked and chose from the wealth of trad tales and ballads (and jokes) that became my repertoir. I'm having fun.

All that said, I do wish this whole thing had been put together by ED BRADLEY instead of someone with the too shallow tastes of Ken Burns. At the end of the 19 hours I'll come back here and say what I felt about the whole thing.

One thing for sure, If Burns glosses over the career of my personal favorite sax player, LESTER YOUNG, I'm gonna be pissed off big time.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 07:07 PM

If he shows anything of Lester Young besides the CBS show I for one will be impressed, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 07:52 PM

Damn, and I always thought that Mrs. O'Leary's house and barn (Cow included) were two of the very few structures that actually survived the fire in that area of Chicago. Neil


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 09:25 PM

Well Art, at least he isn't glossed over too badly on the PBS/Ken Burns' JAZZ website........A couple of audio samples too.....CLICK HERE

That's more than I can say for a couple of my people, but...........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Sourdough
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 01:27 AM

It doesn't read to me that PEASANT was saying that the Irish invented jazz. He wrote, "I do not discount the contribution of African Americans to the development of Jazz but please do not strain the white man or the european ingredients out of the gumbo." Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and talk about the issue he raised, "Are there other European influences in jazz and are they being overlooked".

The renaissance of Klezmer music has gotten a lot of people (at least me)wondering if Klesmer music made an impression on the shape of jazz.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:34 AM

What I've seen (after two episodes) is that racial issues are thoughtfully presented, and not falling into easy dismissals and traps. Witness the discussion of Paul Whiteman. His impact on American tastes during his time is discussed, and of the resentment many African Americans felt towards him. The commentators could have merely dismissed him as a fraud, but instead, pointed out that Whiteman never called himself the "king of jazz," had always credited the black musicians who influenced him, and they pointed out his contribution of orchestrating jazz, balanced with criticisms of his taking improvization - so central to jazz - out of it. I thought it was an example of the intelligent and sensitive way race issues are being handled. Personally, I don't care at all for Whiteman's music, but gained some insight into his place in jazz history from watching this episode.

I'm sure there will be some gaps, some figures left out, and any documentary tackling such a far-reaching and complex subject as jazz is bound to be a subject of controversy. I am impressed, though, by Burns's commitment to trying to get across the essence of this music and its social history, with thoughtful commentary. Being an interpretation of jazz history, and not, I don't think, an attempt to get everything of any significance discussed, it will not please everyone.

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: SeanM
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:57 AM

After the two episodes, I'm still kinda out on my personal verdict.

I think what it all will come down to is whether you agree with Burns' viewpoint on jazz, and if not whether you enjoy the history presented.

I'm leaning towards the latter - I keep feeling a deep sense that he's leaving large portions out to conform to his own version. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing... sometimes, ya gotta go with what you feel, and I can see going with the proven and tried immediate influences rather than the entire broad field (there could be an entire series on 'early influences' alone).

In any case, agree or disagree, I'm REALLY hoping for a CD release of the music being used in the series. My one major complaint is how little of the music is featured, and how much of it is just backing to the various voiceovers.

All in all, it IS an enjoyable series though. Just not 'definitive'.

M


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 03:25 AM

Good point, Sourdough. Benny Goodman's clarinet would certainly work well in a klezmer band - I think I read somewhere that he got his start playing klezmer music.
"Politically Correct" people do seem to have a tendency to credit all American music to Black Americans. Blacks certainly made a huge contribution, but jazz and American music in general are a mix of a vast number of cultures.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: InOBU
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:31 AM

In fact, there were under remembered Roma "Gypsy" bands all over the US in the early part of the century, bringing Klesmer-like music to all the corners of the nation... I think Ken is not stupid, but as one of the other posters said, is presenting a poplular primer... Conrad, could it be you are pissed because he forgot to mention that old rag, "The Orange Order Stomp"?
Just pulling your chain, ol skin
I noticed the Irish ommission as well, though I think his focus was to set up the end of the show for the White Guys invented Jazz nonsence of the first recorded Jazz band, artisitic licence in film often puts a spin on history, that is what books are for...
Cheers
Larry


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:10 AM

First of all, it was great TV. Well done, interesting, properly paced, great music clips ... yes it was a bit much on the hero worship - but that's OK with me; I love Louis Armstrong! And I hadn't noticed the shortcomings that others have pointed out (notable lack of other influences) but don't mind if they are there ... I enjoyed the film, that was why I was watching it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Gern
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:29 AM

Cheap shots aside, I don't think Burns' critics here are on the mark. The program did not claim that no other ethnic traditions improvised musically-- but that the improvisation primarily of African-Americans in NO led to the birth of jazz. This is unmistakably true. If Irish and others improvised, fine, but there is no link from that to jazz. It's similar to the claim that the Citadel firing on Ft. Sumter started the Civil War in Jan. 1861. No it didn't; those shots didn't inspire the mobilization of both sides; the April attack did. Hindsight in history is the critic's convenience. I think Burns is trying to give a multi-ethnic view of this music, but he cannot satisfy those with chauvinist intentions. He's not beyond criticism, though: I'd say he needed far more emphasis on both blues and gospel than he has shown so far. He also climbs on his soapbox a little too eagerly at times. But to call him stupid because he stresses black contributions is to misunderstand both the program and the music. To those disappointed to see their own ethnic agenda ignored, I suggest that they try to pry their minds open.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 11:59 AM

There were perhaps many pathways for the Anglo/Irish tradition to have influenced Jazz. One path is via the ballad tradition. Or was there an African Ballad tradition which came on the slave ships- maybe but what of the structure of jazz pieces- is there a relation to the Anglo/Irish ballad tradition which arrived in North America at a very early date. I tend to believe that the chunks of anglo irish potato floating in the gumbo are bigger than Burns has told us about.

Also-When one trys to explain how certain influences made it into Jazz one should also try to account for the inability of those other influences which were around to enter the tradition. The whole picture would be greatly enhanced by this completeness.

The Irish tradition contains many abstract or improvisational aspects. The Sean Nos style of singing and instrumental styles as well. Slow airs are filled with abstract and improvisational aspects.

If you look at another pbs series on the Irish you will find the presence and arrival of the Irish refuges in New Orleans from the famine (1840's) clearly laid out in some detail. Many of these folk would have come from rural backgrounds and it is well known that they brought strong musical traditions with them.

Again the same Irish pbs show describes quite well the possible reasons for the absence of the Irish as big chunks in the gumbo. These reasons take the form of the push toward assimilation and Americanization. The Irish benefited from a skin color which could better assimilate and church leaders (priests) were quite antagonistic toward folk ways music and traditional cultural baggage. They even insisted on shoes changes in housekeeping styles and proper clothing. The Irish brought their music into the parlor rather than into the brothel one might say. From the parlor it went into the pat and mick shows and then to tin pan alley all places where songs and funny ballads were encouraged over slow airs, mystic sean nos and abstract playing which was more or less confied to the within group or private ceilis.

It is interesting that within both the African American Jazz tradition and the Irish tradition that the entire range of the music is divided between internal and external private and public personal and commercial modes. Louis armstrong out blazing away his career is a radical departure from the guys sitting on the back porches in the delta. The same is true of the Irish. In Baltimore you never really hear the best music in public. It is still carefully stored in the kitchens and parlors of the insiders. (sessions excluded however sessions are not generally held in prime time )

I do not fault Ken on his own path. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to get funding and sponsors of any kind if they produced a program which showed anything else but an African American dominated parenthood of the Jazz. As folklorists have known for years - the environment for both collecting and writing about folklore has always been a very strong censor that few have the power and might to resist. Bias of the cultural setting must always be factored in but this is not a difficult task. Where is Pete Seeger with his excellent cross cultural workshops when you need him!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:37 PM

If you go back and look at most of those old tunes that the early New Orleans jazz players worked with, many of the tunes and a lot of the lyrics come from the Anglo/Irish Ballad tradition--

A single example will suffice--St. James Infirmary Blues, a Jazz standard if their is one, has a melody that is closely related to "The Star of the County Down", a lyric that is closely linked to "The Bard of Armagh", and if that isn't enough, refers to one "Big Joe McKennedy" in the verse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Troll
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:38 PM

Klezmer could have had some influence in the northeast on Jazz since the essence of klezmer is improvisation on the melody line by the lead instruments. Very early klezmer featured the violin rather than the clarinet.
According to the books I have read, Benny Goodman never played klezmer or if he did, its effects were minimal. There is little or no klezmer influence evident in his chops. The only "klezmer" musician in his band was Ziggy Elman. He "played a little Jewish" and wrote "And The Angles Sing" using an old freylach (dance tune) as the melody; a very nice amalgam of klezmer and jazz.

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: mousethief
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:43 PM

I love "And the Angels Sing." One of my favorite B.G. tunes!

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: radriano
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 03:38 PM

This is quite an interesting discussion. I haven't watched any of the jazz episodes so I can't really comment on them but I do feel that I have some experience with both jazz and irish music.

My first instrument was the trumpet. I played in the concert band in high school and I also played in a jazz trio with some friends. I thought we we pretty good but no one was really interested in three white guys playing jazz back then (at least that was my impression).

I discoved traditional Irish music in the mid-seventies and have been involved in that ever since. Improvising in Irish music is quite different from jazz improvisation but that does not preclude interaction or influence between the two forms. There was certainly a connection in the form of dance. It has been said that slaves took note of Irish step dancing and the result was tap dancing. I also hear similarities in vocal music, say, between scat singing and lilting. And, getting a bit away from jazz, I hear similarities between Irish singing ornamentation and certain styles of black and white singers' ornamentation.

Here's another correlation. The banjo, originally an African instrument, found it's way into both Irish (tenor banjo) and old-timey (5-string) music.

I'll have to catch one of these jazz episodes and judge the series for myself.

Richard


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Gern
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 05:16 PM

#1 PEASANT makes good points in second post, but my defense of Burns' perspective stands. Traditional Indian classicism includes considerable improvisation, with melodic variations on raga chord progressions. Did they inspire the Irish? Muslim muezzins ad-lib vocally on recitations, sometimes for hours on end. Did Dravidians invent jazz? Did they cakewalk in Damascus? Or did separate peoples draw similar conclusions about the potential of musical creativity? Despite the strained possibilities of cross-pollination, I thinks the primary bloodline of this particular musical expression "jazz" is being presented fairly in this program so far. Burns still has 16 hours to go, after all. It is no "blackwash" to acknowledge these primary sources.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM

Any analysis of Jazz must simply provide a more complete documentation of the European/Anglo Irish component. Yes, absolutely, Jazz is much more than the sum of its parts and black folk were mainly responsible for sewing it all together but, when you ask african american folk as Burns does- "Who provided the chunks" they have failed to account for the Anglo Irish European ones yet without them Jazz would be severely tattered as a whole suite.

I think the rule for inclusion in a documentary should be that if without accounting for the part the whole would be compromised then it should be included. Failure to provide adequate coverage of this component removes a major significant part of the whole.

It is true that the anglo Irish european component is primairly important as a building block however, I believe that its importance re-surfaces in the background as this building block- (basic structural configurations common to both traditions)- articulates with white/european/anglo Irish culture so as to allow members of those other cultures to accept and work with it. A totally african Jazz might not have been so easy to digest and process.

Another aspect of the presentation was interesting and that was the feeling that the limitations of the african american community - the low life situations - served as a mould for their particular music. Surely, however, Irish americans had their own low life experiences and their own oppressive poverty but they did not produce Jazz.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:36 PM

Your previous post was on the right track Conrad, but you're back to this all inclusive thing that just don't hunt.

Burns may have only brushed on the influences of other cultures, but they are mentioned and in places they fit the acknowledgement is made. But seriously......Are we to spend several hours in a primer type of program exploring the roots of everything and how they may have touched upon the jazz experience? I think Gern has it right. We are being blackwashed because we should be. It is primarily a black form at its inception.

This is a ten hour program. If he were to devote several hundred to the subject, I'm sure there would be time to include Mozart and Skin Flute artists too.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 07:26 PM

Here is a comment at the Atlantic Monthly web site.

If we want to assert the thesis that "jazz is built entirely from muscial raw material imported from tropical west Africa with no other influences of any importance whatsoever" then we must account for why jazz didn't arise in the west Indies, or Brazil, or tropical west Africa itself; or we must define "jazz" in such a way that we can claim that it did arise in one or more of those places.

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM

T.....I read the article and it makes a lot of points....also misses a few. If you view this as the dfinitive history of jazz, its worthless. If you view it as a primer, its fine.

I'm already agreed to the Marsalis points....too much Wynton. But in that first episode, Burns clearly discussed the multi-cultural place that New Orleans was and that "behind the walls of the city" cultures mixed, mingled and shared their roots. Again, he didn't have any details and only touched on the Spanish influence, although a bit more on Creole, but jazz in its first forms came predominantly from the black culture and as Burns DID point out, the Creoles did not consider themselves black, but of European heritage and the blacks in New Orleans were not of the African slave root as much as from the the islands (at least a generation or so deep).

Spaw


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Subject:
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:36 PM

The specific points on what should be there and what should not be there aside, considering that more money has been spent on this epic than any other documentary of Jazz, it just is not anywhere near as good as it ought to be--The excuse that it is just intended to be a "primer", and you can't expect it to cover everything, doesn't wash with me at all--there are of primers on Jazz, and a number of documentaries, which are shown from time to time (Howard University's WHUT makes a point of airing whatever they can relating to jazz, and most all of it is better edited and written than this opus) documentary material, the thing is that when a piece is well written, it is possible to say a lot more than when it is slopped together--

Burns is not really a very good film maker, insofar as he tells his story strictly in his narration, and the visuals generally just give you something to look at while the narrator reads--even worse, the music, which should be the subject of the film, and actually can speak for itself, is just background music--

I will grant that it is worth watching, but the quality is on a level with the more mediocre of the A&E biographies, and not up there with "The American Experience"--


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:46 PM

Yeah, y'all are right I guess..........I think I might as well flip over and watch "Austin Powers;The Spy Who Shagged Me" on Starz.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 11:44 AM

Did anyone see the third episode? What did you think? I had to teach.

It's amazing to me how close the arguements as to the "mix" or "gumbo"(yah, I got sick of that one too) parallel informed discussions of Bluegrass Music. If a ten part series on Bluegrass was filmed (fat chance)by a director who claimed to know "very little about it" and the main mouthpiece was say....Alison Krause, or Emmy Lou, or even Ricky Skaggs, the very same points would be debated.

Casual music fans would probably love it, and maybe even become real devotees, but the folks who've made that form of music, a part of their lives for many years would probably be outraged five times per episode.

Wouldn't it have been great had this film been made thirty odd years ago when a few of the originals were still alive. Nothing against Wynton....and you have to agree, he has a VERY unusual trumpet.....but boy would I have loved to hear what folks like Louis, Pops Foster, Dizzy, Benny, Danny Barker, etc. REALLY thought about jazz.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM

I thought the third episode was the weakest thus far.It seems a bit like Burns is padding the episodes in order to get a full six monumental segments.I'm getting rather tired of hearing reiteration of how great Louis Armstrong was and seeing the same five early pictures of him.Is it possible that Burns found that there was a scarcity of hard info and photos on the early age of Jazz?

At any rate,the third episode left us in 1930,on the brink of the Big Band era with Lionel Hampton,Glenn Miller,Tommy Dorsey,and Count Basie in the offing,so things should pick up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:20 PM

Generally agreed Leej........Some very decent info on Goodman (nothing new) and I liked hearing Artie Shaw, just not enough of him. But I decided that the fellas were right and watched Austin Powers instead........a lot more high quality programming. But like I asked on the other thread........

What do you all think about the opening scene of the "Spy Who Shagged Me" when Austin discovers he has married a FEMBOT??? I liked the part where the machine guns popped out of her tits, but I really question whether there was any significant background development to this "Boob-Shooter." The Irish have employed Boob-Shooters for many years and indeed the tradition is strong. No mention was made or homage paid to the early Irish Boob-Shooters such as "Big Mo"....one Maureen Gilhooly, who mounted twin Tommy guns in her huge breasts back in '38. But in an obvious ploy for ratings, the FEMBOT has a decidedly southern European look about her and not Irish at all. I think Myers is trying to breastwash us here.

.........gimmee peace.........................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:28 PM

I don't know about anyone else, but I thought "High Lonesome" was an excellent film about bluegrass. Experts may disagree. Even in that short hour (?), I learned a lot -- and there was a lot of music played, semi-uninterrupted. I could have sat through hours more, and I am not a great bluegrass fan - at least contemporary bluegrass. There were also some very beautiful older film clips. I could have done with fewer minutes of Bill Monroe walking around his childhood home, but even that was just fine to watch. 10 hours by whoever it was did that film would be astounding (and if Miss Emmylou was our compere -- is that commere? -- you could stretch it out into an ongoing series).

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM

I just noticed in the other thread that this thing is going for 10 episodes, which makes the padding even more understandable.

Your Austin Powers point is well taken, Spaw.I've kept abreast of the huge developments in this field for many years,and find it a truly fascinating area.As for the "breastwash" statement, that is quite a slippery slope and one in which even the careful student tends to lose his grip.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:58 PM

Well Leej, you may have a point. There is though a budding curiosity that some might nip in the bud. I suppose it may not be everyone's cup of tea and failing to admire such points can make you less of a melonhead, but I think I would be remiss in not enjoying the feeling on a personal level.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:07 PM

A wonderful discussion! Anyone from the producer station WETA reading this? Perhaps the local mudcatters could get with the station to do a sequal of sorts! Could be fun.... At least a critique from out of the house or pbs.

Yes! Why didn't Jazz evolve in africa especially parts of Africa which were multi cultural or connected to trade routes. North Africa near spain would seem to be an ideal candidate. As in early midaeval music you find folk quite well connected via trade and troubadours etc...

It is interesting that even in North Africa the british isles were on the edge of the world- furthest distance from them. Perhaps it was the remoteness of this possible catalyst factor that prevented Jazz from predating the landing of the first slaves in North America.

Or maybe it was just the water!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:18 PM

.......geeziz...............what a tool......................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:24 PM

Jazz did evolve in Africa, they just gave it a different name and of course, it sounds completely different--


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:31 PM

Or could it be that watermellons of a certain type only native to north america are essential. :) ;/

Conrad


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:33 PM

Once a bigot, always a bigot. Why am I not surprised?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:54 PM

I've seen the first three and expect to see another one tonight. I generally agree with comments here both on the successes and failures of the series.

I've heard many radio broadcasts in the last year in which Wynton Marsalis did a protracted deification of Armstrong so hearing him do it again is no big surprise. Nancy Wilson narrated a long radio biography of Louis as well. I'm guessing that in order to get cooperation from the jazz illuminati Burns probably found he was obliged to relate the party line as they defined it. These series are expensive things to do and I'm guessing Burns discovered he wasn't fully independent after all. I'm thinking of Burns more as the energy behind the project and guy with the final say so in the editing room. He's probably not the guy who decided what should be emphasized and re-spun.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: GUEST,Trish
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 04:51 PM

Hmmm...interesting reads here. Thank you. I'm a mite surprised by some of the takes, though. Especially from so many obviously learned people. See, I don't think Burns intends to send doctorate diplomas out for faithful viewing of this American Experience series. And an American Experience it really truly is, in my humble opinion. What I think is, all this is meant for someone like myself. Someone who has never and possibly will ever understand or embrace jazz completely. Someone who truly cringed at brass bands and big big sounds. Especially if guitars, harmonicas and accordians are missing...and music with little or no guidance to understanding. My ears happen to enjoy the sweet sadder sounds of the Blues or depressing ballads of life gone wrong in general. But I'm always trying to learn...and indeed the series so far has been infectious and has given me some long lacking respect for this musical style. I've hit the books, the net and the local library...I've downloaded Tiger Rage, Westend Blues and a mess of others I've never heard consciously before...I've order from CdNow and Amazon and I've pulled so many searches my PC's frozen twice today. *shrug* Maybe that's what Burns meant to do with this series, do ya think? That's the REAL American Experience. The ability to offer something to someone who's never had it before and be appreciated for the effort. That and the opportunity to learn. For that I thank him and PBS. As for poor Winston...I've heard Kenny G. and I'll opt for Winston any day. *counting my blessings* If I were a business man...I would most assuredly go with someone who could "connect" with those who watch. You hafta admit he loves the music with a capital L. That alone almost makes ME love it. *grin* Well, just my thoughts and I hope ya'll aren't annoyed. The bigger picture sometimes means more than the sum of it's parts. Parts are parts. ;) Thanks, ya'll. Trisha

(p.s. What have I learned? *grin* Well, I guess it's that you don't really NEED guidance with jazz...it has to talk to you, you hafta feel it when it does. And horror of horrors...that it's okay to NOT have Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, Albert Lee, Buddy Guy or any other idol of mine wailing on a guitar. Got to admit that was a hard one to admit. ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 05:21 PM

Quality Paperback Book Club already has a CD out, called the Best of Ken Burns JAZZ, 20 performances for $18.00


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Subject: RE: BS: Ken Burns? Really that stupid?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 06:04 PM

Far be it from me to be picky, Conrad - but .... any evidence of specifically Irish contributions to the development of Jazz and/or blues - apart from The Bard of Armagh, Drimmin down and Louis Stewart? Just curious.

Regards


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