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Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music

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11/14/2000

Review

In conjunction with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' ten-part 2000 PBS special, Columbia/Legacy and Verve teamed up to issue a special series of reissues covering much of the history of 20th century jazz. The central release of this program is the five-CD box set Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music, its 94 selections covering the history of 20th century jazz, from 1917 to the mid-'90s. Chronologically, the set is very skewed toward the first 50 years of that time span; there is only just under a CD's worth of music dating from after the mid-'60s. What's here is a very good range of classic jazz from throughout the decades, touching upon performances, many acknowledged classics, from many of the music's giants: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and up to Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson. There are just a few dubious inclusions (Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Mister Magic," for instance), and as music it's nearly wall-to-wall excellence. As far as core classics of the jazz repertoire, there are quite a few: Armstrong's "West End Blues," Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)," Count Basie's "Lester Leaps In," Holiday's "Strange Fruit," Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts," Monk's "Straight, No Chaser," Davis' "So What," Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," Coltrane's "Giant Steps," Weather Report's "Birdland," and Hancock's "Rockit." As education, if you didn't know much about jazz before hearing this box, you'll have been exposed to a good deal of its major touchstones after digesting it. Just don't be under the impression that it covers all of the main mileposts, or even that it gives you all of the key launching pads from which to explore further. ~ Richie Unterberger
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Stardust Louis Armstrong 3:33
  3. 2 Soon One Mornin' (Death Come A-Creepin' in My Room) Mississippi Fred McDowell 3:11
  4. 3 Memphis Blues Jim Europe's Infantry Band 2:36
  5. 4 Livery Stable Blues Original Dixieland Jazz Band 3:4
  6. 5 Charleston (South Carolina) James P. Johnson 1:47
  7. 6 Chimes Blues King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 2:50
  8. 7 Backwater Blues Bessie Smith 3:16
  9. 8 The Pearls Jelly Roll Morton 2:48
  10. 9 Dead Man Blues Jelly Roll Morton 3:13
  11. 10 Wild Cat Blues Clarence Williams' Blue Five 2:59
  12. 11 Cake Walking Babies from Home Louis Armstrong 2:54
  13. 12 Sugar Foot Stomp Fletcher Henderson 2:48
  14. 13 Heebie Jeebies Louis Armstrong 2:51
  15. 14 Potato Head Blues Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven 2:54
  16. 15 West End Blues Louis Armstrong 3:17
  17. 16 The Mooche Duke Ellington 3:13
  18. 17 East St. Louis Toodle-Oo Duke Ellington 2:51
  19. 18 Black Beauty Duke Ellington 3:0
  20. 19 Mood Indigo Jungle Band 3:7
  21. 20 There Ain't No Sweet Man (Worth the Salt of My Tears) Paul Whiteman 3:28
  22. 21 Singin' the Blues (Till My Daddy Comes Home) Frankie Trumbauer 2:59
  23. 22 Riverboat Shuffle Frankie Trumbauer 3:7
  24. 23 Hotter Than 'Ell Fletcher Henderson 2:55
  25. 24 I Got Rhythm Ethel Waters 3:3
  26. 1 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) Duke Ellington 3:8
  27. 2 Echoes of Harlem Duke Ellington 2:59
  28. 3 Moten Swing Bennie Moten & the Kansas City Orchestra 3:22
  29. 4 St. Louis Blues Louis Armstrong 3:0
  30. 5 Ain't Misbehavin' Louis Armstrong 3:11
  31. 6 For Dancers Only Jimmie Lunceford 2:37
  32. 7 King Porter Stomp Benny Goodman 3:8
  33. 8 Rose Room Goodman Group 2:46
  34. 9 Sing, Sing, Sing Benny Goodman 8:37
  35. 10 Jumpin' at the Woodside Count Basie 3:7
  36. 11 Sent for You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today) Count Basie 2:55
  37. 12 Lester Leaps In 3:13
  38. 13 Oh, Lady Be Good Jones-Smith, Inc. 3:5
  39. 14 Without Your Love Billie Holiday 2:51
  40. 15 Strange Fruit Billie Holiday 3:10
  41. 16 God Bless the Child 2:53
  42. 17 Three Little Words Art Tatum 2:24
  43. 18 Rebecca 2:40
  44. 19 Harlem Congo Chick Webb 3:14
  45. 20 A-Tisket, A-Tasket Ella Fitzgerald 2:36
  46. 21 Shine 2:55
  47. 22 Dear Old Southland Noble Sissle 2:34
  48. 1 Body and Soul Coleman Hawkins 3:0
  49. 2 Cotton Tail Duke Ellington 3:11
  50. 3 Take the "A" Train Duke Ellington 2:54
  51. 4 Begin the Beguine Artie Shaw 3:13
  52. 5 In the Mood Glenn Miller 3:33
  53. 6 Well, Git It! Tommy Dorsey 3:0
  54. 7 Solitude 3:12
  55. 8 Drum Boogie Gene Krupa 3:6
  56. 9 Salt Peanuts Dizzy Gillespie 3:12
  57. 10 Groovin' High Dizzy Gillespie Sextet 2:40
  58. 11 Koko Charlie Parker 2:53
  59. 12 Scrapple from the Apple Charlie Parker Quintet 2:57
  60. 13 Embraceable You Charlie Parker Quintet 3:43
  61. 14 Get Happy Bud Powell Trio 2:50
  62. 15 Epistrophy Thelonious Monk 3:5
  63. 16 Straight, No Chaser Thelonious Monk 2:54
  64. 17 Manteca Dizzy Gillespie 3:5
  65. 18 Moon Dreams Miles Davis Nonet 3:17
  66. 19 Just Friends Charlie Parker 3:29
  67. 20 Rockin' Chair Louis Armstrong 3:4
  68. 21 They Can't Take That Away from Me Sarah Vaughan 2:39
  69. 22 Walking Shoes Gerry Mulligan 3:9
  70. 23 Fine and Mellow Billie Holiday 8:1
  71. 1 Doodlin' 6:43
  72. 2 I Get a Kick Out of You Clifford Brown 7:38
  73. 3 St. Thomas Sonny Rollins 6:41
  74. 4 Django The Modern Jazz Quartet 7:0
  75. 5 Take Five The Dave Brubeck Quartet 5:21
  76. 6 So What Miles Davis Sextet 9:19
  77. 7 Giant Steps John Coltrane Quartet 4:43
  78. 8 Rick Kick Shaw Cecil Taylor Trio 6:3
  79. 9 Chronology Ornette Coleman 6:3
  80. 10 Original Faubus Fables Charles Mingus 9:12
  81. 11 Aknowledgement [From a Love Supreme] John Coltrane Quartet 7:44
  82. 1 Hello, Dolly! Louis Armstrong 2:22
  83. 2 Desafinado 5:48
  84. 3 In a Sentimental Mood Duke Ellington 4:11
  85. 4 Tourist Point of View Duke Ellington 5:6
  86. 5 E.S.P. Miles Davis Quintet 5:27
  87. 6 Spanish Key [Single Version] Miles Davis 2:48
  88. 7 Birdland Weather Report 5:55
  89. 8 Mister Magic Grover Washington, Jr. 8:56
  90. 9 Rockit Herbie Hancock 3:53
  91. 10 Un Ange en Danger 3:47
  92. 11 Tanya Dexter Gordon 7:22
  93. 12 Soon All Will Know Wynton Marsalis 3:35
  94. 13 Death Letter Cassandra Wilson 4:8
  95. 14 Take the "A" Train Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra 5:33

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