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From what I could tell after watching the series, Burns had developed a theory or raison d'Ítre for the show, which would focus on Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. Armstrong's career was rejuvenated by the traditional jazz revival, but he didn't spearhead it. That was done by the small indie labels I had mentioned before, in the 1940s. The Armstrong All-Stars didn't form until 1947, long after the initial revival recordings had been made (beginning with the Watters Jazz Man sides in 1941). If Marsalis didn't have as pronounced effect on Burns as is believed, certainly his point of view did, through his mouthpieces, Stanley Crouch and Albert Murray. Burns admitted to not knowing much about the history of jazz, but either he was led astray by the slanted points of view of Crouch and Murray or he was extremely selective in what he presented, in focusing on Armstrong, Ellington, and Parker to the exclusion of others who did not fit into that framework. Burns' "Jazz" wasn't interested in looking backward; jazz had a two-dimensional forward progress, and any revivals of previous styles were viewed as unnecessary or irrelevant to the progression.

Bear in mind that I have not seen the show since it originally aired. It's been too painful to revisit it, however, it would be educational to look at it again in the atmosphere of calm reflection, whereas when I first saw it, I was in a blind rage and probably not thinking as critically as I would now as to how it was presented.

Cary Ginell


On Apr 4, 2013, at 11:20 AM, Arthur Gaer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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.
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> 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.
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> 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.
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> 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. 
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>> Cary Ginell
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