Synopsis by Matt Collar
Episode four of Ken Burns's acclaimed series -- covering 1929 to 1934 -- finds jazz musicians facing the collapse of the American economy during the Great Depression. While a quarter of the nation's workforce is without work, jazz musicians thrive. The advent of a new dance called the Lindy Hop brings audiences to legendary dance halls like the Savoy Ballroom to swing with Chick Webb's big band. Fats Waller and Art Tatum take solo piano to new heights of virtuosity and Duke Ellington, now being compared to Stravinsky, transcends racial stereotypes while touring the country. Then, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, a struggling and brilliant clarinetist leads his band on stage and starts up a Fletcher Henderson arrangement. It is at this moment that Benny Goodman's swinging sound finally breaks through to a generation kicking off the Swing Era.
heritage, jazz, music