Jazz Ken Burns Essays

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Pages: 6

Jazz by Ken Burns “JAZZ” is a documentary by Ken Burns released 2001 that focuses on the creation and development of jazz, America’s “greatest cultural achievement.” The first episodes entitled, “Gumbo, Beginnings to 1917” and “The Gift (1917-1924), explain the early growth of jazz as it originates in New Orleans and its expands to Chicago and New York during the Jazz Age. In assessing the first two episodes of Ken Burns' 2001 documentary, "JAZZ," this essay will explore the history of jazz, the music's racial implications, and it's impact on society. In doing so, attention will also be given to the structure of the documentary, and the effectiveness of documentary film in retelling the past. In the first episode of …show more content…
While Ken Burns gives a very short background of the agreement, he does explain that a new system of segregation laws is established named under the minstrel hit “Jim Crow” that makes way for a time where “white rule was brutally re-imposed” and “lynchings became a routine.” This brought upon a stream of African Americans that escaped to New Orleans from the segregation in the Mississippi Delta. With them, they brought the blues, which according to Gerald Early, an African American essayist and American culture critic, was an “aesthetic that freed them from the burden of minstrelsy.” The blues were a combination of spirituals, work songs, call and response, shouts only made possible because of the suffering of the blacks during their oppression as Alberta Hunter, an American blues singer and songwriter explains that “the blues are like spirituals, almost sacred. When we sing blues, we’re singing out our hearts we’re singing out our feelings. Maybe we’re hurt, and just can’t answer back, then we sing or maybe even hum the blues.” Jazz was a music that came from an aspiration for freedom combined with creativity. However racial conflicts are still prominent during the creation of jazz as it becomes a well-known popular style of music. While Jelly Roll Morton, an American ragtime and early jazz