Plot & Details
Episode two of Ken Burns's exhaustive series explores the haughtiness of the "Jazz Age" -- 1917 to 1924. During this time when jazz flourished, unparalleled prosperity across the country created an atmosphere ripe for flappers, gangsters, speakeasies, and all-around good times. Burns introduces viewers to the most important figure in jazz, Louis Armstrong. After surviving a fatherless childhood in the roughest part of New Orleans, Armstrong grew up to become the first true jazz soloist and influence the course of jazz for decades to come. Burns also moves the focus of his documentary from New Orleans to Chicago, where Armstrong joins his mentor King Oliver and the two artists influence a new generation of musicians, white and black alike. Viewers get to know the young Duke Ellington as he heads for Harlem, the brilliant arranger Fletcher Henderson, and the most popular bandleader of the day, Paul Whiteman, who created the first truly commercial version of jazz.