America's Music: Session 3 ~Swing Jazz

Monday, June 3, 2013

6:00 PM-8:15 PM

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903

Meeting Room (3rd Floor)

Mon, 2013-06-03 18:00 - 20:15

America's Music is a six-week series of public programs created by the Tribeca Film Institute® in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in consultation with the Society for American Music.

The programs feature documentary screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th century American popular music. The six sessions focus on uniquely American musical genres: blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock 'n' roll, and mambo and hip hop.


Overview: Jazz, a form of music characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation, developed at the turn of the century around the same time as blues, gospel, and country music. Jazz’s popularity grew with the roaring 20s, but the height of its mass appeal was the swing era during the Depression and World War II. Crossing social, regional, and economic lines, swing jazz in the 1930s and 1940s became the music of an entire generation, featuring danceable big band music.

A discussion of the film will take place after the screening led by Micah Salkind, a Providence Rhode Island-based writer, DJ and sound designer. As Director of Public Programs at The Providence Black Repertory Company between 2005 and 2008, he worked with representatives from Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism to establish Providence Sound Session, a flagship free/low-cost summer music festival for the City.

Salkind is pursuing a Ph.D in American Studies at Brown University. His scholarly work on Afro-Diasporic cultural production, which has recently included articles South African popular music and global House dance culture, complements his work towards establishing innovative models for sustaining community art institutions and art-makers with local and state funders.


Ken Burns’ Jazz: Episode 6, directed by Ken Burns (2001)

This episode from the acclaimed award-winning series picks up the story of jazz in the late 1930s. As the Depression deepened, swing jazz thrived. The saxophone emerged as an iconic instrument; Kansas City became the center of a vibrant new music scene epitomized by Count Basie. Basie refined his sound in New York City, where Benny Goodman held the first jazz concert in Carnegie Hall. The episode also tells the stories of Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, and Ella Fitzgerald, women musicians who emerged on the jazz scene.

International Sweethearts of Rhythm, directed by Greta Schiller (1986)

This award-winning documentary tells the little-known story of a multiracial all-women swing band that became an international sensation in the 1940s. The band of sixteen young women grew to embrace members from different races and ethnic groups—black, white, Latina, Asian, and Native American—and many of the best female musicians of its day. Along with remarkable archival footage of the band playing in the U.S. and Europe, the film records the often wry and humorous recollections of its members about defying Jim Crow laws in the South and the sexism that they encountered in the music world.

Link to Essay 

Additional Documentary Films



Online Resources

Signups closed for this Event