Ken Burn’s JAZZ Returns! “Gumbo (Beginnings to 1917)” airs Thursday, January 7 at 9 p.m.

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Jazz is a ten part series that explores the evolution – and the genius – of America’s greatest original art form, focusing on the extraordinary men and women who could do something remarkable – create art on the spot. Jazz celebrates their profoundly enduring, endlessly varied, and infinitely alluring music in the context of the complicated country that gave birth to and influenced it, and was in turn transformed by it. The series offers complex and engaging portraits of many of the greatest figures in jazz – among them Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

trumpeter Louis ArmstrongJazz is about much more than the evolution of the music alone. The film is about sex and romance, and the rituals of courtship in America; it is about joy and celebration, and having a good time; it is about our greatest cities and the people who migrated to them; it is about the rise of records, radio, and television. Jazz is about minstrelsy and lynching, and the struggle for civil rights. It is about the sufferings of the Great Depression, and the sacrifices our nation made in two world wars. It is also a story about drugs and dissipation and pain – and the life-affirming art that comes out of it all.

JAZZ : Gumbo (Beginnings to 1917)

Jazz is born in the unique musical and social cauldron of New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, emerging from such genres as ragtime, marching bands, work songs, spirituals, European classical music, funeral parade music and the blues.