Posted by Bob Byler on February 11, 2001 at 13:44:32:
In Reply to: The Burns/Marsalis film posted by Bob Byler on February 03, 2001 at 19:58:42:
Two more items relating to my first message:
1 -Ken Burns was in the Bowling Green/Toledo area to talk about his film to reporters and on public TV in early November 1998. I didn't know about it ahead of time, so didn't get to meet him. But I sent him a letter on 1l/19/98 to offer him my resources and identify others, thus:
1 - Wild Bill Davison documentary, by Tom Saunders and Tim Rocha, for which I wrote the script. 2- Some 50 hours of interviews I've taped with musicians and other jazz leaders in connection with writing articles and for "oral history" purposes. (I sent him the list, which includes Max Morath, George Buck, Gunther Schuller, many contemporary trad players)
3 -Any of my photos of musicians since about 1955, some 16 mm. film I did, and access to more than 1,000 hours of jazz my wife and I have videotaped live. 4- contacts via the International Jazz Photo Directory, which Gene Hyden produced and I assisted, identifying some 750,000 photos and 400 photographers/collectors.
I identified the Sound REcordings Archives at Bowling Green State University as the largest archive of popular music at any university and where important jazz collections are held.
I emphasized the vitality of traditional jazz today with about 500 bands playing and about 100 festivals nationally, and urged that this be an important topic in his film.
All I got was a memo from an assistant, saying thanks and we'll be in touch. Never happened. As all know, Wild Bill Davison was not included nor any of the trad-dixie-swing-mainstream jazz since 1940 or so. The BGSU archives are not listed as a source, even though he was in B.G. Hell, the film didn't even include Stan Kenton, who got me hooked on jazz when I was about 11. I was a Big Band Era kid and loved to dance, then learned about traditional jazz in the early 1950s. I'm broadminded - headed a jazz society in Evansville and even did a concert that paired the Kenton Orchestra with the Dukes of Dixieland!!
The list of omissions from the Burns/Marsalis film is huge, of course (not even Eubie Blake or the Preservation Hall band, or Red Norvo, Turk Murphy, Charlie Byrd, and on and on), and reviewers nationally have pointed out its many since of omission and perspective. It does seem to be helping jazz record sales, though. One neat parody has all-knowing, self-promoting Wynton in a previous incarnation as Buddy Bolden. But I guess he never heard of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, or even about the improvising skills of Mozart. Oh, well, enough of this.
But there is some good news about a further oppotunity for people to see trad bands on video. George Mills of Heritage Music on Video in St. Louis has sent about 150 of its videos made at jazz festivals around the country to four archives -- The SRA headed by Bill Schurk at Bowling Green State Univ., Marr archives headed by Chuck Haddix at U.Missouri, Kansas City, Hogan archives at Tulane, headed by Bruce Raeburn in New Orleans, and to Dave Robinson in Virginia for his Traditional Jazz Educators Network.
Thanks to George and his partner Ed Peters at Heritage for these major donations. They're cleaning out the inventory, now that HMV isn't doing any more jazz video. (Lost money on that, but did it for the love of jazz and to preserve it.) These collections can now be more available to the public, and I'm writing all four archives to suggest some uses and promotions, and will write an article on the subject for The Mississippi Rag. So, besides the Riverwalk programs (and thanks to Don Mopsick for his reply to my earlier posting) and Sacramento TV series I mentioned, here's another great effort to get proper credit for the field Burns & Marsalis disdained to cover.
Sorry for sloppy construction here. I don't write well at this computer, and haven't learned how to scan and send material written at my main machine (a wonderful 15-year-old Tandy 1000 with WordPerfect) that still works very well.
It's nice to be able to air our views on this board, since the RAG could never handle all the letters in its limited space. By the way, Leslie tells me that PBS cut off its link to the RAG website, after criticisms of the film.
It just shouldn't have been called "JAZZ," because it doesn't come close to covering the field. I've been a journalist for 50 years, and if I did something so inaccurate and prejudicial, I'd have been fired the next day.!! Bye now.