Swing: Pure Pleasure (1935-1937)
- 2000 ----- color ----- 86 min ----- vhs///
(Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns series, Part 5)
As the Great Depression drags on, jazz comes as close as it has ever come to being America's popular music, providing entertainment and escape for a people down on their luck. It has a new name now--Swing--and for millions of young fans it will be the defining music of their generation. Suddenly, jazz bandleaders are the new matinee idols, with Benny Goodman hailed as the "King of Swing," while teenagers jitterbug just as hard to the music of his rivals: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Glenn Miller, and the mercurial Artie Shaw.
- But the spirit of Swing isn't limited to the dance floor. In New York, Billie Holiday emerges from a tragic childhood to begin her career as the greatest of all female jazz singers. And in Chicago, Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson prove that, despite segregation, there is room in jazz for great black and white musicians to swing side-by-side on stage.
- At Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, however, there is room for only one King of Swing, and on May 11, 1937, Benny Goodman travels uptown for a showdown with Chick Webb. It's billed as "The Music Battle of the Century," and more than 4,000 dancers crowd the floor to urge both champions on. But when it's over, there's no doubt who wears the crown [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)