Looking At: Jazz, America’s Art Form

Looking At: Jazz, America’s Art Form explores the cultural and social history of jazz as it developed as an art form invented in early 20th century America. It has evolved into an enduring expression of creativity and innovation. The history of jazz is much more than the history of an extraordinary musical genre — it is also the story of central social, political and cultural issues of the 20th century that continue to play a part in our fledgling 21st.

Format: DVD

Looking At: Jazz, America’s Art Form is a Film and Discussion project for non-profit organizations and libraries from National Video Resources and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center and the American Library Association.

Topics covered in the series:

  • New Orleans and the early pioneers of jazz
  • The Jazz Age and Harlem as a center of art
  • The Swing Era and jazz as America’s popular music
  • The art of jazz singers, musicians, and composers
  • Modern jazz and the fragmentation of jazz styles
  • Jazz as an international music

Session 1: New Orleans and the Origins of Jazz

Film: Ken Burns Jazz, Episode 1: Gumbo, Beginnings to 1917

Session 2: The Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance
(portions of 2 films are shown at this session)

Film 1: Ken Burns Jazz, Episode 2: The Gift

Film 2: Harlem Renaissance: The Music & Rhythms That Started a Cultural Revolution

Session 3: Jazz Vocalists

Film: Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday

Session 4: The Swing Era

Film: Bennie Goodman: Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing

Session 5: Jazz Innovators: From Bebop, to Hard Bop, to Cool and More

Film: Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker

Session 6: Latin Jazz and Jazz as an International Music

Film: A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba