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Press Release

American Cultural Center Presents the Video Series: "Jazz" a Film by Ken Burns

PR0351E | Date: 2003-10-08

On October 16 (Thursday) the AIT American Cultural Center will begin a video series on the history of jazz. The program features a 10-part, 18-hour documentary series that celebrates America's greatest original art form and examines its origins. Beginning with the birth of jazz at the dawn of the 20th century, the film incorporates the wide range of American culture and historical events that correlate directly with the music: among them the harsh racial polarization of the 1890s; the artistic and political ferment of the Harlem Renaissance; the exuberance of the Jazz Age; the Great Depression and the New Deal; the Second World War; the emergence of a youth culture in the 1950s and 1960s; the hope, anger, and expectations of the civil rights movement; and the search for identity in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The video series, a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C., in association with the BBC, is directed by Ken Burns and written by Geoffrey C. Ward. On Thursday, October 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Episode One: "GUMBO" will be shown. Over the next five months (10/30/2003 through 2/26/2004), the remaining nine parts will be shown every other week on Thursday at 6:30 p.m, except for public holidays. The film program schedule with episode summaries is as follows:

10/16/2003 (THUR) - EPISODE ONE: "GUMBO" (90 min.): Jazz is born in New Orleans, during the 1890s, out of the African-American community.

10/30 (THUR) - EPISODE TWO "THE GIFT": The "Jazz Age" of the 1920s sets the tone for this episode, and the story features the early legends of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and Paul Whiteman.

11/13 (THUR) - EPISODE THREE "OUR LANGUAGE": The Jazz Age refines and features the development of jazz legend ensembles and popular solo styles, including vocalists.

11/28 (FRI) - EPISODE FOUR "THE TRUE WELCOME": As America finds itself in the Great Depression, jazz lifts the spirits of a frightened country. Popular new dances, stride piano, and swing music are born.

12/11 (THUR) - EPISODE FIVE "SWING: PURE PLEASE": A new kind of jazz-swing becomes America's new popular music and musicians like Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, and Tommy Dorsey become household names.

1/08/2004 (THUR) - EPISODE SIX "SWING: THE VELOCITY OF CELEBRATION": The swing craze continues despite the depression. Jazz spreads from dance halls to concert halls and into Europe.

1/15 (THUR) - EPISODE SEVEN "DEDICATED TO CHAOS": When America enters World War II in 1941, jazz music goes to war. Through the horn of Charlie Parker, "cool Jazz or Bebop" is born. Swing becomes a symbol of democracy at home.

1/29 (THUR) - EPISODE EIGHT "RISK": Despite the escalation of the Cold War and the growing threat of nuclear annihilation, America achieves a level of growth and prosperity unimaginable just a few years earlier. The nation's musical tastes are changing too, as young people turn to sentimental singers and rhythm and blues. One by one, the big bands leave the road, and all-star groups form. Bebop flourishes with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Dizzie Gillespie, and Jazz festivals are born.

2/12 (THUR) - EPISODE NINE "THE ADVENTURE": Cool jazz continues with John Coltrane and Avante Garde Jazz is born.

2/26 (THUR) - EPISODE TEN "A MASTERPIECE BY MIDNIGHT": From the 1960s until today jazz continues to grow worldwide.

The American Cultural Center will present the entire series in 10 evenings. The center is located at Suite 2101, 21F, No. 333, Keelung Road, Section 1, Taipei. The program is open to the public without charge. Pre-registration is suggested to ensure a seat and an information packet on the relevant episode. To indicate your interest, or obtain more information on this series, please contact Morris Huang at 2723-3959 ext. 215; or Patricia Wang ext. 285; fax 2725-2644;