Dedicated To Chaos (1940-1945)

Season 1, Episode 7 of 10

The infectious music of the swing bands sets the mood for soldiers going off to fight in World War II. Gifted trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, in after-hours jam sessions with other young rebels, including the drummer Kenny Clarke and pianist Thelonious Monk, take jazz in startling new directions with their complex music -- bebop. Their innovations, however, are largely unnoticed amidst the war effort. Armed Forces Radio broadcasts spread jazz across the globe, while big band leader Glenn Miller dies in a plane crash over the English Channel. In Europe, jazz is banned by the Nazis and embraced by their opponents as a symbol of freedom and democracy. European jazz innovators, including Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, blend jazz with their own musical traditions. As racial conflict in America heats up, the center of jazz in New York moves from Harlem to 52nd Street. Duke Ellington rebuilds his band, begins his collaboration with arranger and composer Billy Strayhorn, records some of his most popular songs and pioneers serious long-form jazz compositions. Charlie Parker struggles with his own heroin addiction. Then, with Dizzy Gillespie, he records several bebop masterworks.

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