Weekly Discussion Questions for Jazz by Ken Burns
Discussion Questions


Discussion Questions for the Week of Apr 26 – May 2
In Episode 1, we heard that “The blues would become the underground aquifer that would feed all the streams of American music, including Jazz.” Wynton Marsalis said that Jazz is an art form that can give us an understanding of ourselves. How does the blues provide the base for Jazz to offer the understanding of ourselves that Marsalis posits?

In Episode 2, the narrator suggests that Louis Armstrong was chosen to bring the feeling and the message of Jazz to everyone all over the world. Armstrong is arguably one of the most, if not the most recognizable Jazz musician for people around the world today. What about Armstrong’s music and personal history make him memorable to you?

Discussion Questions for the Week of May 3 – May 9
Which artist did you learn the most about in “Our Language”? And what was your favorite thing you learned?

Discussion Questions for the Week of May 10 – May 16
Based on the information in Episode 4, how do you see Duke Ellington’s influence on the perception of Jazz in the 1930s? How does his style shape Jazz music?

From Episode 5, what do you learn about how segregation affected Jazz music?

Discussion Questions for the Week of May 17 – May 23
How does Chick Webb foster talent and provide inspiration for Jazz at the Savoy? What is the influence of the Savoy in popular culture?

Why is Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” such an important song in Jazz history?


What was your favorite episode of this docuseries and why?