June is African American Music Appreciation Month.
When America entered World War II, jazz became part of the arsenal, with bandleaders like Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw taking their swing to troops overseas. For many black Americans, however, that sound had a hollow ring. Segregated at home and in uniform, they found themselves fighting for liberties their own country denied them—as when authorities padlocked the integrated Savoy Ballroom. Still, jazz answered the call. Duke Ellington sold war bonds and premiered the tone portrait Black, Brown, and Beige as a benefit for war relief. But underground, jazz was still evolving. In a Harlem club called Minton’s Playhouse, trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker had discovered a new way of playing—fast, intricate, and sometimes chaotic. Once “bebop” broke loose, jazz would never be the same. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns. (110 minutes). Distributed by PBS Distribution.