Ken Burns Jazz – Episode 9: “The Adventure”

Olin Arts Center, room 104
75 Russell Street
Lewiston, ME 04240
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Joseph Holston, Jazz, 1990, Screenprint

Joseph Holston, Jazz, 1990, Screenprint

Post-war prosperity continues but beneath its placid surface there is a growing demand for civil rights. Louis Armstrong decides to risk his career by speaking out against southern defiance of the Constitution. Miles Davis, having overcome the narcotics addiction that has destroyed so many other musicians’ careers, signs with Columbia Records, makes a series of legendary albums and becomes an icon for an entire generation of Americans. The gifted clean-living trumpeter Clifford Brown, a role model for younger musicians, is killed in a car accident, while Duke Ellington, struggling now to stay on the road, experiences a rebirth of his career after a triumphant appearance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Drummer Art Blakely forms his Jazz Messengers, which for more than 40 years will provide a proving ground for young musicians. Two legendary figures from the thirties – Billie Holiday and Lester Young – pass on not long after making an extraordinary appearance together on television. Meanwhile, three adventurous saxophone masters also make their debuts – Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, whose bold Free” playing helps to launch a new jazz movement – the avant-garde.