Swing: The Velocity Of Celebration (1937-1939)

Season 1, Episode 6 of 10

As the Great Depression deepens, jazz thrives. The saxophone emerges as an iconic instrument of the music; the episode introduces two of its masters, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Young migrates to Kansas City, where a vibrant music scene is prospering. Out of this ferment emerges pianist Count Basie, who forms a band that epitomizes the Kansas City sound. With the help of John Hammond, Basie takes his band to New York, where his remarkable rhythm section and legendary soloists refine and redefine swing. Billie Holiday records with Basie' s tenor saxophone soloist Lester Young; their musical kinship creates one of the great partnerships in jazz. Women musicians, including pianist and arranger Mary Lou Williams, emerge on the jazz scene. Ella Fitzgerald emerges as a star, taking over Chick Webb's band and launching a long career. Benny Goodman holds the first-ever jazz concert at Carnegie Hall. Duke Ellington travels to Europe and then makes some of his greatest recordings. In 1938, Billie Holiday begins her engagement at the integrated nightclub, Cafe Society. Coleman Hawkins returns to the United States after many years in Europe.

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