Our Language (1924-1928)
Episode #103 / Length: 1 hour, Length: 57 minutes
Louis Armstrong arrives in New York from Chicago where, during a brief stay with the Fletcher Henderson band, he amazes his fellow musicians and teaches the city to swing. A blues craze, spearheaded by Bessie Smith, takes the nation by storm. Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, the first great white jazz artist, eventually plays for bandleader Paul Whiteman, whose blending of classical and jazz traditions comes to epitomize jazz for many Americans. This episode also traces the childhood of Benny Goodman, whose musicianship catapults him out of the slums of Chicago; and Goodman's eventual rival, clarinetist Artie Shaw, who also escapes ghetto life though jazz. Clarinetist Sidney Bechet takes his fiery music to Europe, and singer Ethel Waters brings a new kind of artistry to American popular song. Jelly Roll Morton advances the art of jazz composition, and Duke Ellington begins his incomparable career as the pre-eminent composer in jazz history. The episode ends with Louis Armstrong's teaming with pianist Earl Hines in l928 to make a series of pivotal recordings that culminate in the masterpiece "West End Blues."
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