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The first episode, "Gumbo" traces the roots of jazz from the 1800s to 1917, looks at the earliest days of jazz starting in New Orleans, where diverse influences and traditions pooled together. Ken Burns uses historical fact and personal accounts to illuminate the story of jazz and how it coincided with the maturation of America. Jazz roots itself in New Orleans for its first installment, Gumbo. The mixture of marching bands and minstrel shows, Italian opera and down-home blues and the rhythms of ragtime gradually formed a new style. Cornetist Buddy Bolden became the music's first star (before going mad); Jelly Roll Morton took credit for its invention; clarinetist Sidney Bechet brought his powerful personality; and trumpeter Freddie Keppard turned down the chance to make the first jazz recording. Commentary throughout the film by Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Crouch, and others, as well as rare footage from the period, illustrates the importance of these early figures and the struggles, both personal and social, with which they contended.The viewer will catch glimpses of Jelly Roll Morton, who erroneously claimed to have invented jazz, and the tragic, though influential, figure of trumpeter Buddy Bolden. One of the 19th century's most progressive cities, the "wide open" town was filled with gambling, prostitution, crime -- and music. Burns shows how African-American musicians combined Caribbean rhythms, opera, minstrel shows, and (most importantly) marching bands with ragtime and the blues to produce a music that would soon be called "jass," and later "jazz." In the end of the film (1917) Burns shows a group of white musicians Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

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