See, this makes sense. The "establishment" has always been along the same lines as the college
course and the anthologies -- indeed, they are the creators of the college courses and the
anthologies. I don't think Martin Williams was reflecting radical new opinions in the early 70s when
he put the Smithsonian stamp on the Satchmo/Duke/Bird line of history. This was pretty much the
established view of jazz books and magazines in the 50s and 60s.
The problem with Ken Burns' approach was that he was basically being fed and then adopting a 1970
view of jazz history in the mid-1990s. A lot had happened, and there was the luxury of time passed
to re-examine everything, including the early days, swing and bebop. Enough time had passed since
the 60's to see how important soul-jazz and acid-jazz had been to the music business (and to the
buying public). And the link was never made that the alleged "dead end" of fusion-jazz had actually
evolved into the very popular "smooth" jazz, which was at full popularity around the time Burns
started working on his project. Net-net, I think that's lazy documentary-making. And, because he was
imposing an earlier understanding of history on a modern audience, willfully ignoring a lot of
subsequent data, it's historical revisionism.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Arthur Gaer" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2013 3:41 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] revisiting an old thread -- jazz anthologies
Many of the critics and writers were interviewed in 1996 and 1997, while Wynton Marsalis wasn't
interviewed on camera until June 12, 1999. A lot of the other musician interviews were also in the
middle of 1999.
What was said off camera and when can't be determined by this evidence, of course.
[log in to unmask]
On Apr 4, 2013, at 2:46 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> I haven't had time to do this.
> Here are transcripts of some of the Burns interviews for "Jazz":
> It would be interesting to analize them by date, because I think it's reasonable to surmise that
> those who spoke first had more influence on the shape of the emerging documentary than those who
> spoke last -- unless Burns went in with a fully-baked pre-supposition and did interviews just to
> fit his "narrative."
> Regarding Don Cox's statement:
>> I think what we see is one of the bad effects of college courses in
>> jazz. The Ken Burns/Marsalis story is a typical study curriculum.
>> The standard story of 20C art history is a similar simplification. But
>> one has to start somewhere.
> I don't think it's ever a good idea to start at a place of misinformation or agenda-driven opinion
> masked as "history." Regarding art history, one thing that I've noticed is how the promoters and
> gallery owners get to write this history, if they live long enough. I guess that's no different
> from record label owners and A&R folks.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Arthur Gaer" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2013 2:20 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] revisiting an old thread -- jazz anthologies
> Just a quick note: I saw Ken Burns speaking about his Jazz series on a panel with Stanley Crouch
> at Harvard at the time of the initial broadcasts.
> Burns was pretty emphatic that Wynton Marsalis had little to do with the content or structure of
> the series. That they didn't talk to Marsalis until they were well into the production of the
> series when the content and structure had already been established, and that they basically just
> did one three-hour interview that was interspersed throughout the series.
> I probably have some of the details wrong (the talk was twelve years ago) but Burns was quite
> adamant that Marsalis did not guide the series. So Burns may have adopted Marsalis's outlook as
> part of his conventional narrative, but unless Burns was deliberately dissembling in his
> discussion, Marsalis wasn't the one who was controlling the history in the series.
> So it may be that Marsalis *would have* or (even did) discuss the traditional revival movement,
> Bunk Johnson, etc. but if so, it was likely Burns who wasn't interested in putting that in his
> series, rather than Marsalis.
> Arthur Gaer
> [log in to unmask]
> On Apr 4, 2013, at 12:38 PM, Cary Ginell wrote:
>> I might also add that the early world music efforts of Herbie Mann and Stan Getz and the bossa
>> nova movement are also excluded from these so-called representative anthologies, more detritus
>> from the ill effects of Ken Burns' "Jazz," which ignored all of this, probably because the trad
>> jazz, world music, and boss nova movements were all spearheaded by white performers. You'd think
>> Wynton Marsalis, a traditionalist himself and the Svengali behind Burns' myopic rewriting of jazz
>> history, would have embraced the coming of Lu Watters, the rediscovery of Bunk Johnson, and the
>> British trad movement of the 1950s, but I have not seen acknowledgement of this period at all
>> from him.
>> Cary Ginell