Ken Burns Jazz – Episode 8: “Risk”

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

Despite the escalation of the Cold War and the growing threat of nuclear annihilation, America achieves a level of growth and prosperity unimaginable just a few years earlier. The nation’s musical tastes are changing too, as young people turn to sentimental singers and rhythm and blues. One by one, the big bands leave the road, but Duke Ellington stubbornly keeps his band together, while Louis Armstrong puts together a small group, the “All-Stars,” and spreads his fame around the globe. Impresario Norman Granz makes a success of his jazz at the Philharmonic Tours, insisting on equal treatment for every member of his integrated troupes. Meanwhile, bebop musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker are creating some of the most thrilling and inventive jazz ever played, but audiences drift away from their demanding music. A devastating narcotics plague sweeps through the jazz community, ruining lives and changing the dynamics of performance. Charlie Parker never overcomes his own addiction, destroying himself at the age of 34. And a number of gifted musicians – including Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and John Lewis – find new ways to bring new audiences to jazz.