FIRST HAND comments on Ken Burns Jazz From: "Citizen Kafka" <>
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2001 9:07 PM
Subject: FIRST HAND comments on Ken Burns Jazz

Hi, all,

I'm sending this out widely, as many of my friends and correspondents love music and are (or might be) interested in some way, negative or positive, in the Ken Burns documentary "Jazz" airing on PBS beginning Monday, January 8th. The author, Matt Glaser, is a friend of mine, a great fiddle player, and one of the consultants and talking heads in the documentary "Ken Burns Jazz." (Don't ask me where the apostrophe is, i've seen it as "Ken Burns: Jazz" too...)

You may respond to me and/or Matt. Take care,

citizen kafka

Hello, my name is Matt Glaser. Since I've been getting eviscerated regarding my appearance in the Ken Burns' Jazz documentary, I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself and comment on my participation in the film. I'm Chairman of the String Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, a position I've held for 20 years. I co-authored the book "Jazz Violin" with the late Stephane Grappelli. If you want my whole bio you can check out this website:

But mostly I love music and enjoy turning people on to the music I love. Don't we all feel that way?

I tried to get Ken to list me as "metaphysical crackpot." I usually preface any remarks I make about music and physics by saying they're completely fact-free. I like to say these provocative things to get people to think more deeply about the time element in jazz, which I think is incredibly deep and actually very mysterious. If you want to read what I have to say about these topics, check out the following websites:

Some reviewers got what I was trying to do, especially in the two Louis solos that I talk about on camera. Jon Garelick, writing in the Boston Phoenix, said, "...and then, with the music unbroken, we cut to the young jazz-violinist Matt Glaser, bearded, grining, listening to the very same Armstrong vocal we are, and he begins to parse Louis's phrasing for us (the "abstraction" of the popular melody to a single note of driving swing, a bar or two of "no time," a stunning resolution), catching the trumpeter's almost indecipherable spoken aside and translating for us, not in a pedantic way, but joyful, as if he were sharing a gift. And he is."

Bob Blumenthal, writing in Jazz Times, said, "If someone were to ask me to tell them the story of jazz, my response would be, 'Sit down, and let me play you some recordings.' That can be done in a film--and it is done brilliantly in my favorite segment of those I saw, as violinist Matt Glaser talked viewers through Louis Armstrong's 'Up a Lazy River'..."

I'm disturbed by the level of vitriol that is rampant in the jazz community. It really has the feeling of people standing around in a circle shooting at one another. All of us love all kinds of music, and that enthusiasm is what is truly contagious, not all the hatred, carping, and nit-picking. If anyone wants to get in touch with me they can e-mail me at, or check out the following website:

and that's it!

citizen kafka

Listen ANY TIME at:
Citizen Kafka, Producer, "The Secret Museum of the Air"
every Tuesday 6 to 7 PM EST WFMU 91.1 FM then go to 'listen to wfmu'

C o m m e n t s

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