This documentary mini-series is an extensive retrospective on the history of Jazz, spanning from its roots in 1890’s New Orleans to its second century, the 2000s. Broken into ten episodes, the film look at the different periods in the history of Jazz, thematic eras and featuring greats such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. Ken Burns is a renowned documentary film-maker well known for these types of episodic films that look at elements that define early American culture.
These films are generally aimed at older teen to adult audiences, and the format I think really lends itself to the classroom. They aired on PBS as a mini series, so they are broken into episodes that aired nightly, and are now collected into a dvd-set. The series focuses on creating a narrative out of interviews with musicians, historians, and critics, while weaving in relevant historical footage and photographs. The style is accessible to different types of learners.
Curriculum Tie Ins
This would be great in a US History Class, or a Music History class. The series is broken up enough that a class could utilize only small segments of it or the entire series over the course of a semester. It could be used to illustrate more straight-forward texts read in class with its historical examples. Students could be prompted to write critical responses to episodes they’ve seen.
California State Standards – Music 9-12 Proficient (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/muproficient.asp)
Role of Music
3.1 Identify the sources of musical genres of the United States, trace the evolution of those genres, and cite well-known musicians associated with them.
3.2 Explain the various roles that musicians perform, identify representative individuals who have functioned in each role, and explain their activities and achievements.
Other relevant info
http://www.pbs.org/jazz – A companion website to this film series.