True Welcome, The (1929-1934)
- 2000 ----- color ----- 119 min ----- vhs
(Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns series, Part 4)
In 1929 America enters a decade of economic desperation, as the Stock Market collapses and the Great Depression begins. Factories fall silent, farms fall into decay and a quarter of the nation's workforce is jobless. In these dark times, jazz is called upon to lift the spirits of a frightened country and finds itself poised for a decade of explosive growth. New York is now America's jazz capital. On Broadway, Louis Armstrong revolutionizes the art of American popular song and displays a flair for showmanship that makes him one of the nation's top entertainers. In Harlem, Chick Webb pioneers his own big-band sound at the Savoy Ballroom where black and white dancers shake the floor with a new dance called the Lindy Hop. And in the city's clubs, pianists Fats Waller and Art Tatum dazzle audiences with their stunning virtuosity.
- But it is Duke Ellington who takes jazz "beyond category," composing hit tunes with a new sophistication that has critics comparing him to Stravinsky. Now the nation's best-known black bandleader, Ellington tours in his own private railcar, transcending stereotypes with an elegant personal style that disarms prejudice and inspires racial pride.
- Meanwhile, Benny Goodman is making a name for himself, broadcasting big-band jazz nationwide, based on Fletcher Henderson's arrangements. In 1935, Goodman takes his band on tour but in most towns people ask for the old, familiar tunes. Then, finally, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, the dancers go wild when they hear Goodman's big-band beat. By the end of the night, the Swing Era has begun [Closed-Captioned]. (Funded, in part, by the Department of American Ethnic Studies)
- Topics: (American Ethnic Studies: Afro-American, Ethnomusicology, History: American, Motion Pictures: Documentary, Music, United States)