Ken Burns at The Onion

Erik Carlos Toren cuauhtemocrey at
Fri Mar 23 12:31:45 MST 2001

Hola Camaradas:

Since a couple of months ago, we had a good discussion about Ken Burns'
documentary on jazz, I recently read a recent interview done by The Onion.
Here is a sample of that interview.  Enjoy!

sample quote:

"O: I think that take might account for some of the criticism you've
received. To be honest, I think some of it is fair, because your story
starts to slow down around the '60s...

KB: Actually, around 1975. We did that quite consciously, because we're
engaged in history, and history is about stories that are over. And, of
course, the last 25 years are a story that's ongoing. From the very
beginning, in all of my films that have a manifestation to the present, we
sort of put on the brakes, thin out the narrative and our narrative control,
and, in the case of Jazz, just celebrate all the diversity that's going on.
But it's quite conscious. Whenever I speak to the jazzerati, the jazz Nazis
who want this to be an encyclopedia--and of course it can't be--I just ask
them quite simply, who among the current players is as important as
Armstrong, Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane? And
there's dead silence. You won't know that unless we get another 25 years and
look back, and I promise I'll come back to Jazz and we can open it all up
again. But we have a music that used to be 70 percent of the music in our
country, and it's now down to 1.9 percent. And a lot of that is because most
Americans feel, and have told me on the road, that they feel they need an
advanced degree or some esoteric knowledge to understand jazz. And of course
they don't at all. Armstrong himself said, "There ain't but two kinds of
music in this world, good music and bad music, and good music is what you
tap your foot to." I made a film that celebrates the past of the history of
jazz, but it's not suggesting this music is over. In fact, history is all
about the present asking questions of the past, so that we have a sense of
where we are now and where we might be going. I mean, I see history as a
kind of medicine, and I'm seeing, as books are flying out of the stores and
music is dominating the Billboard jazz chart, that there's a huge untapped
curiosity about jazz that the series is going to help. And all the
resistance that people have felt over the years, in no small measure due to
the jazzerati, who want to keep it close to the vest and assume that
anything popular is bad, is being to wear thin and break down. And that can
only beget good for jazz, as well as the blues, its sister, and other forms
of "legitimate" American music."

Erik Toren
Pharr, TX

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