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PBS to Broadcast Weekly Jazz Program

Better late than never, right? Because after 40 years, there is finally a national weekly television series focusing exclusively on jazz.

The PBS series Legends of Jazz will be hosted by Ramsey Lewis and will debut on June 16 with an hour-long special showcasing the winners of this year’s National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Award. The 13 weekly 30-minute episodes will begin their season this fall.

Each episode will combine elements of live performances, conversations and archival material to provide a first-hand account of some of jazz’s most memorable moments. The show is structured so that each episode features one guest musician, who will perform with Ramsey and his trio and discuss the episode’s theme, which may be an instrument, style or element of jazz.

The premiere Legends of Jazz: The Jazz Masters show will spotlight five of the NEA Jazz Masters: Nancy Wilson (2004; pictured at the taping of the inaugural episode), James Moody (1998), Jon Hendricks (1993), Paquito D’Rivera (2005) and Newport Jazz Festival Founder George Wein. Teen jazz vocalist Renee Olstead will also appear on the show as a special guest, providing a unique counterpoint to the five established musicians.

Originally Published