on jazz

on jazz {one}

on jazz {two}

on jazz {three}
~jazz musician and drummer, art blakey

i have previously written about watching the ken burns documentary on the american civil war. well... we finally finished that, so we checked out the ken burns jazz documentary series from the library. with both b. and me out of work for the time being, we are taking advantage of the extra time and watching about an hour or two a day with our morning coffee.

before i go any further, i just want to say one thing {and then you can stop reading if you don't have time, cause this is going to be a long one}. i want to say, if you like music even a little, i highly recommend that you watch this. it consists of ten discs that total fifteen hours of great footage, music, quotes, interviews, photos and information about the history of jazz.

although i had a general knowledge of how jazz music came to be, i have been learning a great deal about the specifics and am thoroughly enjoying all of it. there are a few things that contribute to why i like this film so much, i think. one is that ken burns seems to enjoy infusing humor into his films. even in the civil war film among all the sad or heartbreaking stories, there were moments of humor that caused us to laugh out loud. all the more so with this jazz series.

and one of the contributors of that humor in this film is wynton marsalis, who is interviewed often throughout the film. if you don't know of him, he is a modern-day trumpet player known for his classical and jazz playing. i'm a fan of his playing to say the least, but he is also quite a character to watch and listen to as he talks. he has a very vivacious way about him—in his facial expressions and voice—that make him a joy to see and hear. and he has a great sense of humor, as well as a lot of funny stories to tell in regards to the history of jazz. so he is not only a talented musician. he is also a knowledgeable jazz historian who is clearly passionate about the genre when he speaks of it.

the third thing i enjoy about this film {and the part that made me want to post about it on my photo blog} is something that also mesmerized me as i watched the civil war film. the photography. i am so captivated by these older photos and how so many important things in history were captured so beautifully. if i had watched either of these films a year ago—before i got into photography—i think i might not have felt the same. i may have appreciated the photos and the work and research that went into finding them for the film. but now, i look at these and i think, "wow! what an amazing photo." or "i wish i could take pictures like that." or so many other things that are brought to mind by these images.

as i watch these historical accounts about jazz, i hear so many really cool things said—things i write down, because i think about how good they would be to quote or write about on my blog. and then i think, "what photos could i post with these?" i really wanted to use one of the opening quotes of the first disc—the blakey quote above—but i wondered what photos i could put with it.

i wanted something that had a big city feel and a feeling of movement. as i learn more about jazz history through this film, i realize just how influential chicago was in the beginning for jazz. i had known it was a part of it—just like new orleans and new york. but i did not realize how large of a part chicago played. so i was excited to remember all the shots i took almost a year ago while riding on the train to chicago and driving through the city in a car from the train station to my brother-in-law's house.

i almost forgot about the 500+ photos i took, because i had put them on my multiply site instead of my hard drive. i've used a few of the shots here and there for other posts, but when i thought about the photos taken from the car after we got off the train, i remembered that they have the feel i wanted. the city. the lights. the movement. chicago. even the train was perfect, as so many musicians fled new orleans for chicago via the train in search of being a part of the jazz craze that was happening there in the 20s and 30s.

so i went to multiply and grabbed several photos that i had always hoped to use in a post some day. they were almost forgotten. i took these back when i only had my little canon powershot a470, and i used the black and white setting. again, i felt the black and white lends to the post i am using them for, since most of the photography i'm seeing in this film is old black and white imagery. and it is also kind of cool, because the disc we watched this morning was expounding on how much jazz was a bringing together of black musicians and white musicians—how they did not care about the color of the skin, rather about the spirit of the music and how it united them because it transcends race.

anyway, these aren't the best photos in the world. many are blurry. many are muted—not crisp. but i love them! i love the feeling they have. and i always wanted to use them. now i finally have a reason to.

please, please, please watch this film. i'm telling you, you will not be sorry and it will be time well-spent. i'd love to ramble on about all the great musicians i'm learning about... louis armstrong, benny goodman, ethel waters, duke ellington, sydney bechet, artie shaw, bessie smith... but it would be silly for me to go on and on, when all you have to do is watch the film and see it and hear it for yourself. {plus, we still have eight more discs to go, so i don't know everything yet. *wink*} all i know is that i already loved jazz. but now i want to own every jazz recording ever made! be ready to feel the same if you watch it.

and i'm guessing that you enjoy photography if you visit my photo blog and other photo blogs regularly. so i can safely guess that you will enjoy the photography in the film as much as i have.

okay, i'm done. just go get it. check to see if your library has it. i know many of you don't have as much free time to watch it, but you could see them in installments. spread them out over several weeks. here are some more pics from my black and white chicago photo shoot.

at first, i did not like the orbit gum sign in this one, but then i remembered many of the old photos from the film––photos of the 1920s and 30s streets of chicago and new york filled with the many brightly lit signs to advertise everyday products like this. so i put this one in after all.

not all of the jazz that was being played was at the big clubs in higher society areas. much of it {and much of the innovative kind} was happening in little places like corner bars or speakeasies in the lesser known or not so well-to-do areas. i'd love to go back in time and sneak into one of these little venues where musicians played all night long whether or not they had a sizable audience, because they loved it more than anything. there must have been some amazing music and improvisation going on.


Char said...

love the movement and the muted silent tones

Anonymous said...

Great Chicago photos, Georgia. And they do evoke the jazz era. I'm almost embarrassed to say I've never seen the Ken Burns documentary. We saw parts of it when it was on but we didn't watch the whole series or even close to it. I did take an absolutely awesome course in college called "Jazz in America." Tony is very into jazz, too, and has had a jazz band although he currently plays blues (also part of Chicago's history).

Chicago is such an awesome town with all its history. I would love to have snuck (sneaked?) into those little clubs back then with you, too.

Kristin said...

Now that might be something educational that the hubs and I could agree on. Your pics are making me want to come even more!

Caroline said...

Your photos are very much like jazz. Chicago is a great city for that too! I think I recognized the intersection at Armitage, Damen & Elston...not sure, but it looked like it for sure! Boy do I miss that city!

georgia b. said...

good eye, caroline! you were right.

TeeTee said...

amazing pictures!

Glen Goffin said...

My first time visiting but I really enjoy your blog. Your photography has this great raw energy that is inspiring. I plan to visit often. Peace, Glen

Liss said...

Wow your images really capture the essence of the city, jazz and a bygone era. Makes me want to step back in time and hear the master play.

Don't know much about jazz but do like the style. I will look out for these series of DVD's.

Alicia said...

these are the perfect photos to go with the topic of jazz. i felt it when i was looking through each of them. i heard the music coming out of the black and white.

beautiful! if anyone has netflix they can play it instantly through the website! i've already put it in my play instant queue!

o and then photo with the orbits sign definitely has the feeling of the past, and the best thing is, someday, someone will look at that and it will represent history, with the orbits sign being a part of it!

joyce said...

I don't much care for jazz, but I do really like the style of the pics of Chicago....you did a wonderful, creative job. You could probably put together a book for the tourism centre!

Caroline said...

I lived in Bucktown then Wicker Park for over 12 years...I passed through that intersection thousands of times!

I love the mood you captured there...

Oliag said...

I caught some of that Ken Burns series on Jazz when it was on PBS...and really enjoyed what I saw...will put the series on my Netflix list after reading this!...Your B&W Chicago pics beautifully illustrate "jazz"...nicely done!

miz katie said...

i love b&w photographs.

shilvia said...

i do love jazz..and your shots are awesome!!! thank you for the recommendation Georgia!!!

Bridget said...

That is weird - you have to let me know what you find out! Someone else this week with {in the picture} used the same quote saying but saying that music washes away from the soul the.... and they have it being said by Berthold Auerback. Very weird!!!