January 15, 2001
With all the hype surrounding Ken Burn's Jazz, it was almost set-up for disappointment (link from Robot Wisdom). It makes for a nice contrast to the dismal predictions made by critics for Canada: A People's History who were promptly shamed by the overwhelming public support for the series.
I still watch the Jazz series because even though it has its faults (like the repeated browbeating of "Armstrong is God") it's still a good introduction to jazz for neophytes like me.
And it has brought out of the woodwork other fine introductions to jazz. Just yesterday I heard on WDET, a great work called "What is Jazz" by Leonard Bernstein. While Ken Burns focuses upon the individuals who created the art form, Bernstein explains jazz by dissecting it musically and examining each of its components like its unique melodies and rhythms.
It has some great moments. After Bernstein explains that not only is "classical blues" comprised of lyrics of rhyming couplets, he goes to say that it's so 'classical' that it can be sung in Shakespeare's iambic pentameter. Bernstein backs up all of his lessons with musical examples and in this case he starts pounding the piano and sings a scene from MacBeth in a classical blues style.
If you want to order it for your local library, then perhaps you might like the MARC record for the item.