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A documentary film about Pittsburgh's rich jazz music history will premiere on Feb. 15 on WQED-TV.
The MCG Jazz program of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild has produced "We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told," a 60-minute documentary that will premiere at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 and will rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Feb. 18.
The film explores the social conditions and historical events that came together to make Pittsburgh a leading contributor to the legacy of jazz music worldwide, according to a press release.
It features interviews, historical photographs and more than 20 live performance clips of jazz masters like George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams and others — all Pittsburghers.
"The film was produced for a general audience and captures the spirit of a distinctly American art form, the character of a regional locale, and the soul of a hardy and determined people," according to the press release.
"It's one of the great cultural stories of this city, and it has now been told," said Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp., of which MCG is a subsidiary.
MCG Jazz executive producer Marty Ashby produced the film with writer and director Jeff Sewald. Support was provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, McCune Foundation, Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and UPMC Health Plan.
"This film explores the rightful ancestry and cultural significance of jazz music in Pittsburgh and properly acknowledges its unique contributions to jazz history," Ashby said.
"We Knew What We Had" will be distributed by American Public Television, with presenting station WQED Multimedia, for broadcast on television locally, nationally and internationally. The film will also be entered into national and international film festivals and presented via other public and private screenings.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @shirley_trib.