We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I would be very interested in your opinon when you finish. Most of my musician friends think Burns completely and totally screwed this up badly spending too much time on historically irrelevancies and certain periods rather than getting to the heart and soul of the genre. I haven't seen it, but I've heard that he honestly didn't know much about the genre before he started the series and it shows.
Like I said, I haven't seen it yet, but would like to.
A very good history of jazz, titled oddly enough "The History of Jazz" by Ted Gioia, has been called the definitive history. I would have to agree - it is a great read, goes into very real depth of both the music and history and is a pretty easy read. Highly recommended. Here is a sample(Chapter One) of the book.
This reminds me of something I remember from high school. It was either something one of our HS intelligentsia said or something that I read - that the US was essentially an artistic wasteland and no new art forms came from the US and the implication was that all art came from Europe.
I guess whoever said that didn't know about jazz, blues, gospel, or rock & roll to name only some musical art forms. I'd say we knuckle dragging 'mericans did all right after all.
I've watched the first two episodes of the Burns Jazz Doc online at Netflix, already aware of that there was some controversy over it, though I haven't bothered delving into the nature of the controversy -- who's critical or why. Anyway, I liked both of the first two episodes & found little to fault, or at least get upset about -- and I know a thing or two about jazz.
Jazz, like so much else, started getting politicized by younger players in the late 50's & it only got worse in the 60's. It was mostly about race; some of the younger black players of the day decided their (in most instance, completely justified) militancy over civil rights had to extend to the music, too, sometimes in unfortunately abrasive fashion. I've read interviews with older jazz musicians, black and white, who have said that in some respects the relationship between black and white jazz players was worse in the 60's than it had been in the 30's & 40's when it was near impossible for an integrated band to function professionally.
Anyhow, I would guess the controversy has something to do with Burns offending official positions on the history of jazz that were formed in the 60's & 70's.
I've never read Gioia's book, though I've heard good things about it. I recently read "A New History of Jazz", by Alyn Shipton, (published 2007) and I would recommend it as well. I think in many respects he presents the history of the music in greater depth and scope than most histories allow the music, and he doesn't seem to have a particular ideological axe to grind.
though I haven't bothered delving into the nature of the controversy
From what I gather, Burn's is historically inaccurate as well as musically confused with terms and such. He also doesn't cover certain important time periods - like the 40's/50's where a lot of the seminal jazz musicians cut their teeth so to speak.
I'll have to watch it one of these weeks when I have nothing else to do.
Most of my jazz collection consists of CD box sets from Europe, either from direct purchase or from remainder sales at used book stores, averaging $2/ CD.
For books on jazz, I recommend those written by Lewis Porter, who can both teach it and perform it.
Here he moderates a discussion on jazz which also includes a short critique of Ken Burns's series on jazz.