Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 11: Safe For Democracy
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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Duke Ellington
Segment 7
Louis Armstrong All that Jazz

The Jazz Age, begun in New Orleans, grows out of the sounds of the city and the mixed heritage of its people. It is American music—unlike anything heard in the world before. It combines the rhythm and drumbeat of Africa with the instruments and heritage of Europe. The first jazz is played by funeral bands See It Now - Jazz Funeral wailing music full of soul and sadness as they follow horse-drawn hearses down the streets of New Orleans. Jazz takes a dash from the spirituals of the black Protestant churches, and much from the talents of some musical geniuses who can be heard in street bands and nightclubs. Jazz makes you feel free. And the greatest musical genius of them all is Louis Armstrong.

Louis was a boy who sold coal on the streets of New Orleans for two bits a sack. He was very poor. Then someone gave him a trumpet. Louis Armstrong was born to play the trumpet. People began calling him "satchel mouth" because his cheeks seem to hold a suitcase full of air. "Satchmo" is soon playing on riverboats that go up and down the Mississippi. Then he goes to Chicago and makes history. Soon jazz pioneers are popping up in Kansas City and New York and, thanks to radio, all over the country. Duke Ellington See It Now - Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Joe "King" Oliver, and W. C. Handy are some of the names. But some people still don't know exactly what jazz is. Louis Armstrong has an answer for them: "If you gotta ask, you'll never know."

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Did You Know?
Many of the early jazz leaders were trumpeters, probably because the trumpet could be played while marching, and because its high sound carried over the street noise.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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