Amazon.com Widgets

Masters of American Music: The Story of Jazz

By Published: | 15,049 views
Various Artists
Masters of American Music: The Story of Jazz
Naxos Jazz
2009

Various documentaries have been made about jazz over the years with mixed results. While the 1993 DVD Masters of American Music: The Story of Jazz is only 98 minutes long, it ends up being far more wide-ranging, less repetitious and better written than the much longer and somewhat controversial Ken Burns' Jazz released the following decade. The Story of Jazz covers the early cross-cultural roots of jazz then every major style by blending focused writing, plus careful choice of photos, music, film, video and interview subjects.

Director Matthew Seig and veteran jazz journalist/producer Chris Albertson cowrote the project. The interviews include dozens of players, which help to flesh out the contributions of individual artists or the influence of an earlier style on a new approach, woven into a fast-paced collage of often rarely-seen photos, film and video clips, covering ragtime, classic jazz and New Orleans jazz, blues, swing, boogie-woogie, bop, cool, free jazz and fusion. Among those examined in depth are Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, Fletcher Henderson
Fletcher Henderson
Fletcher Henderson
1897 - 1952
arranger
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
, Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
and Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
, Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
1924 - 1990
vocalist
, Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
and Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
, though the pace never bogs down on any one artist.

One of the strengths here is a focus upon the musicians who played during an era mentioned, often having worked with or been influenced by the players they discuss, instead of artists who weren't even born during the style's heyday or on long-winded writers. Of course, a number of respected jazz journalists, among them Gary Giddins, Howard Mandel, Albert Murray, Dan Morgenstern and others (though none of them are heard or seen on camera) were involved in interviewing these jazz greats, many of whom have passed away since the initial release of this DVD. Fortunately errors are at a minimum (though it is funny to hear Barry Harris call Monk a prolific composer by comparing him to Ellington). The Story of Jazz is the rare documentary that holds one's attention while encompassing a remarkable scope of subject matter.


Production Notes: 98 minutes


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.