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‘We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told’

Christian Wissmuller • News • July 27, 2021

This documentary film explores the social conditions and historical events that conspired to make Pittsburgh one of the leading contributors to the legacy of jazz music in the world. The film is packed with compelling interviews, historical photographs and over 20 live performance clips including: George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams and more — all Pittsburghers.

“Thoughtful, engaging, tastefully done and important for everyone to understand the history of the evolution of jazz in America….” —Herb Alpert

We Knew What We Had is more than a collection of vintage film clips: it profiles some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century, through meaningful interviews with colleagues, admirers, and customers of the long-gone nightclubs where they played. I’ve seen a great many jazz documentaries and would definitely rate this among the best.” —Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian

We Knew What We Had was broadcast on over 400 channels across 46 states totaling thousands of telecasts of the film reaching 86% of the viewers nationwide. The film has been screened at the US Film Festival in Dallas, TX, at the Jazz Institute in Graz, Austria, at BIAMP PDX Jazz Festival in Portland, OR, and at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The documentary was awarded a Gold Telly Award in the Use of Music for Television category and a Bronze Telly Award for the Cultural in Television category.

Producer Marty Ashby
Writer & Director Jeff Sewald
Cinematography Paul G. Sanderson III
Editor David H. Cohen
Original Music Daniel May

We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told
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