Arts and Music


Jazz has been called the purest expression of American democracy; a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation. Ken Burns follows the growth and development of jazz music from the gritty streets of New Orleans to Chicago's south side, the speakeasies of Kansas city and to Times Square.

A Masterpiece by Midnight

1h 48m

During the Sixties, jazz is in trouble. Critics divide the music into "schools" - Dixieland, swing, bebop, hard bop, modal, free, avant-garde. But most young people are listening to rock 'n' roll.


  • A Masterpiece by Midnight: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    A Masterpiece by Midnight

    S1 E10 - 1h 48m

    During the Sixties, jazz is in trouble. Critics divide the music into "schools" - Dixieland, swing, bebop, hard bop, modal, free, avant-garde. But most young people are listening to rock 'n' roll.

  • The Adventure: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Adventure

    S1 E9 - 1h 54m

    In the late 1950s, America's postwar prosperity continues, but beneath the surface run currents of change. Families are moving to the suburbs, watching television has become the national pastime, and baby boomers have begun coming of age.

  • Risk: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E8 - 1h 58m

    The postwar years bring America to a level of prosperity unimaginable a decade before, but the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation makes these anxious years as well. In jazz, this underlying tension will be reflected in the broken rhythms and dissonant melodies of bebop, and in the troubled life of bebop's biggest star, Charlie Parker.

  • Swing: The Velocity of Celebration: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Swing: The Velocity of Celebration

    S1 E6 - 1h 39m

    As the 1930's come to a close, Swing-mania is still going strong, but some fans are saying success has made the music too predictable. Their ears are tuned to a new sound - pulsing, stomping, suffused with the blues.

  • Swing: Pure Pleasure: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Swing: Pure Pleasure

    S1 E5 - 1h 28m

    As the Great Depression drags on, jazz comes as close as it has ever come to being America's popular music

  • The True Welcome: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The True Welcome

    S1 E4 - 1h 58m

    In 1929, America enters a decade of economic desperation, as the Stock Market collapses and the Great Depression begins. Factories fall silent, farms fall into decay, and a quarter of the nation's workforce is jobless. In these dark times, jazz is called upon to lift the spirits of a frightened country, and finds itself poised for a decade of explosive growth.

  • Our Language: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Our Language

    S1 E3 - 1h 46m

    As the stock market continues to soar, jazz is everywhere in America, and now, for the first time soloists and singers take center stage, transforming the music with their distinctive voices and the unique stories they have to tell.

  • The Gift: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Gift

    S1 E2 - 1h 48m

    As the Roaring Twenties accelerate, Paul Whiteman, a white bandleader, sells millions of records playing a sweet, symphonic jazz. Louis Armstrong comes to New York, adding his improvisational brilliance to the band's new sound - and soon Armstrong is showing the whole world how to swing.

  • Gumbo: asset-mezzanine-16x9


    S1 E1 - 1h 21m

    JAZZ begins in New Orleans, nineteenth century America's most cosmopolitan city, where the sound of marching bands, Italian opera, Caribbean rhythms, and minstrel shows fills the streets with a richly diverse musical culture. Here, in the 1890s, African-American musicians create a new music out of these ingredients by mixing in ragtime syncopations and the soulful feeling of the blues.

  • Dedicated to Chaos: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Dedicated to Chaos

    S1 E7 - 1h 53m

    When America enters World War II, jazz is part of the arsenal.

Extras + Features


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