Posted by Butch Thompson on January 10, 2001 at 21:44:15:
Did anybody else see Burns and Marsalis on the Charlie Rose Show Monday night? It reminded me of a late-night bull session in the college dorm, with pronouncements piling up like cordwood. Rose knows how to get his guests worked up, and the chemistry between filmmaker and creative consultant was something to see. They had a smart director, who often showed Marsalis reacting as Burns spoke and vice versa.....they were like kids daring each other to go further and further. I remember discussing Jazz as an Art Form and other Great Questions for many hours when I was a teenager. It was always late at night, always in the dorm, but never on national television, for which I am grateful. At any rate, I got a headache after a while and turned it off.
One thing Burns said was this: "I am in the business of history." OK, let's hold him to that. Hal, keep up the good work on musical anachronisms. Let's compile a list of gaffes right here. My first contribution: In episode 3, Ben Pollack is referred to as a singer, with nothing to suggest that he ever played drums. Hal, that is bound to drive you nuts.
I hate it when they chop up the good records they're playing to make the timing fit the narration. I also don't understand why they used Gunther Schuller's transcription of Smokehouse Blues instead of Morton's original, which is better in every way, including recording balance.
Yes, there are good things happening here. It is wonderful to see Armstrong getting such great press, the photographs are fascinating, and you even get to hear some good music.
Is West End Blues the only recording we will hear without interruption? Probably.