Synopsis by Matt Collar
Episode nine of Ken Burns' series -- covering 1956 to 1960 -- deals with a period of immense popularity and transition for jazz music. The same year that Elvis Presley tops the pop charts, Duke Ellington records a live album at the Newport Jazz Festival that outsells all his others. Other aging artists' careers soon burn out as a result of drugs, as well as competition from young virtuosos such as Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. Yet these progressive young musicians remain silent as Louis Armstrong -- whom they unfairly label an "Uncle Tom" -- condemns the government's failure to act against racism in Little Rock, AK. Still the leading visionary of jazz with his minimalist approach, Miles Davis continues to put together different groups throughout the late '50s. But as the '60s approach it is one of Davis' sidemen, saxophonist John Coltrane, who envisions the future of jazz with his provocative version of "My Favorite Things."
heritage, jazz, music