June is African American Music Appreciation Month.
Dixieland, swing, bebop, modal, free, avant-garde—these were some of the terms critics used during the 1960s to categorize the diverse manifestations of jazz music. As for the artists themselves, many were desperate for work and headed for Europe, including bebop saxophone master Dexter Gordon. At home, jazz sought relevance. During the civil rights struggle it became a voice of protest, while avant-garde explorer John Coltrane reached for a higher consciousness with A Love Supreme and Miles Davis combined jazz with rock ‘n’ roll to launch a wildly popular sound called Fusion. The loss of pioneers Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in the 1970s seemed to mark the end of the music itself. But Wynton Marsalis and a host of other artists, schooled in the music’s traditions, have ensured that jazz is reborn every night—vibrant, evolving, and still swinging. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes). Distributed by PBS Distribution.