America's Music Film & Discussion: Swing Jazz

Wednesday April 10, 2013: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Experience the history of American popular music when AADL presents America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway. This eight-week series features documentary film screenings and discussions at the Downtown Library focusing on twentieth-century American popular music. Throughout the series, related concerts performed by some of the area's most prominent musicians will be presented both at the Library and at Kerrytown Concert House.

Mark Clague, Associate Professor of Musicology and Director of Research at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, leads this screening and discussion session on Swing Jazz Music focusing on the films "Ken Burns' Jazz: Episode 6: Swing, the Velocity of Celebration" and "International Sweethearts of Rhythm."

Episode 6 of Ken Burns' acclaimed 2001 series covers Swing jazz beginning in the late 1930s. As the Depression deepens, Swing thrives, becoming unprecedentedly popular across all social classes. Count Basie arrives in New York City; bringing the signature up tempo blues-influenced sound and unique syncopation. Hisistory is also made when Benny Goodman brings his Swing band to Carnegie Hall, the temple of upscale classical concerts.

The award-winning 1986 documentary "International Sweethearts of Rhythm" tells the little-known story of a multi-racial all-women swing band that became a sensation in the 1940s. While their audience was white as well as black, the demand for their music among black servicemen won them a year-long performance tour of Europe towards war's end. Along with wonderful archival footage of the band playing in the U. S. and Europe, the film records the often wry and humorous recollections of band members as they reflect on defying Jim Crow laws in the South, their musical and social education on the road, the social cohesiveness of their group, and the sexism they encountered in the music world.

The Ann Arbor District Library is one of fifty sites nationwide to host this program series, which is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. America's Music has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. The AADL series is also co-sponsored by The Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, Kerrytown Concert House, UMS and WCBN 88.3 FM.