Tag: Ken Burns

This 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet Is Fantastic

This 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet Is Fantastic

Ephemera, History
I'm currently in the middle of re-watching the excellent Civil War documentary by Ken Burns, so this particular item feels extra significant to me at the moment. It's The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, published for an Anti-Slavery Fair in 1846 and created by Quakers Hannah and Mary Townsend of Philadelphia. The alphabet consists of sixteen leaves, printed on one side, with the printed pages facing each other and hand-sewn into a paper cover. Each of the letter illustrations is hand-colored. The target audience for this book, as you might expect, was children who the Townsends hoped would adopt an Abolitionist point of view. History tells us, of course, that it would take more than 20 years and a bloody Civil War for the Abolitionists' dream to become reality. All images courtesy the Mississ
Sunday Jazz: Duke Ellington at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1956

Sunday Jazz: Duke Ellington at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1956

Music, Sunday Jazz
This weekend sees the continuation of one of the greatest musical celebrations around -- the Newport Jazz Festival. It was founded by George Wein in 1954 and in its half-century-plus history has showcased some of the greatest talent in jazz, as well as other genres. But in just its third year, 1956, the Newport Jazz Festival was the setting for a truly legendary performance. For it was that year that Duke Ellington and his band took the stage and delivered a show for the ages. I'll let this clip from Ken Burns' Jazz documentary miniseries tell the story... The band's performance of "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" -- punctuated by tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' famous solo -- became the defining moment of Ellington's late career, and led to a creative and commercial resu...
Album review – From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

Album review – From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

Music
Mention the name Wynton Marsalis in some jazz circles and people will look at you as if you had just ripped a particularly loud fart. Due to his rather outspoken opinions on the validity of more traditional jazz styles over newer ones, he has been viewed alternately as a savior and a fossil. This was only exacerbated by his ubiquitousness throughout Ken Burns' controversial Jazz miniseries. Given this, it may not be possible for some to objectively approach his work - including his newest release, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary. Luckily for me, I never really paid attention to any of that controversy. However, I honestly never paid any attention to his music either. I decided to give this album a shot after seeing Marsalis's recent appearance on The Daily Show. And I have ...