About the film

We Knew What We Had:  The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told documentary film features the talents of international Jazz Masters George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn and Mary Lou Williams – all Pittsburghers – and 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 one-hour film is packed with interesting interviews, historical photographs and over 20 live performance clips of the Jazz Masters.



“We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told” Premiering on WQED-TV February 15


(Pittsburgh, PA, December 19, 2017)—Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) announced today that its MCG Jazz program has produced “We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told,” a 60-minute documentary film about Pittsburgh’s jazz music history premieres Thursday, February 15 at 8 pm on WQED-TV.  The documentary will rebroadcast on Sunday, February 18 at 7pm.


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


“It’s one of the great cultural stories of this city, and it has now been told,” said Bill Strickland, Manchester Bidwell Corporation President and CEO. “And MCG Jazz is the perfect conduit.”


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,” said Ashby. “Such recognition resulted from a close examination of the place in which the dreams of local jazz musicians were formed, their spirits nourished, and their talents honed.


“Through the years, a host of jazz-focused programs have been produced for television—most focusing on the American jazz scene from a sweeping national perspective,” said Sewald. “As a result, many intricate regional stories that together helped form the larger jazz landscape were bypassed leaving holes in the story of America’s music. That’s where ‘We Knew What We Had’ comes in.”


“There has been great enthusiasm for this documentary from our distributors at APT and from stations across the country,” said Darryl Ford Williams, Vice President of Content at WQED.  “We are proud to serve as presenting station for such a terrific story that captures part of Pittsburgh's legacy.”


“We Knew What We Had” will be distributed by American Public Television with presenting station WQED Multimedia for broadcast on television, locally, nationally, and around the world.  In addition to its premier airing on WQED, the film will have an encore presentation on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. The film will also be entered into national and international film festivals and presented via other public and private screenings


About Producer Marty Ashby 

Marty Ashby is a jazz guitarist, GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, programming consultant, and music educator.  He founded MCG Jazz, in Pittsburgh, PA in 1987 and manages its presenting, education, and recording programs to this day. For three decades, Ashby has been an artistic advisor and producer for jazz concerts and festivals around the country. Ashby began performing professionally at age eight with his parents and brothers in their hometown of Baldwinsville, NY. As a guitarist, Ashby has performed and recorded with Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi, Nancy Wilson, Paquito D’Rivera, Herbie Mann, Phil Woods, The Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Star Big Band and others. 


About Producer-Director-Writer Jeff Sewald 

Jeff Sewald has been an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker for 20 years. His most recent film, “Peter Matthiessen: No Boundaries,” was narrated by screen actress Glenn Close, premiered at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and received its television broadcast debut on National PBS. In 2001, his first solo film, “Gridiron & Steel,” a feature documentary focusing on the spiritual relationship that exists between football and the people and communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania, netted a regional Emmy® Award for excellence in sports programming.




About Presenting Station WQED

WQED Pittsburgh www.wqed.org has a proud history of honors, including 166 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including three Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence. WQED was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster.  WQED changes lives by creating and sharing outstanding public media that educates, entertains, and inspires.  It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED Create; WQED World; WQED Showcase;  WQED PBS KIDS Channel; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s Educational initiative (www.wqed.org/edu).


About American Public Television 

American Public Television (APT) has been the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations since 1961. For more than 10 years, APT has annually distributed one-third or more of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. Among its 250 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, performance, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Front and Center, Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Midsomer Murders, A Place to Call Home, Lidia’s Kitchen, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Now in its 12th year, Create® TV — featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming — is distributed by American Public Television. APT also distributes WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.


About MCG Jazz

Since 1987, MCG Jazz, a program of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild that is an affiliate of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, has brought audiences together with jazz artists at its 350-seat music hall in Pittsburgh for innovative performances and recordings. Its mission is to preserve, present, and promote jazz. MCG Jazz Archives assets derived from concerts, workshops, interviews, recording sessions, off-site productions, and other events includes nearly 32,000 hours of raw footage and is home to the personal collections of Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Mann, John “Doc” Wilson, and Lee Tanner. In addition to presenting one of the nation’s longest running jazz subscription series, the MCG Jazz label has won five GRAMMY® Awards and is an anchor of Pittsburgh cultural and community life. For more information about Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, please visit their website at www.mcgjazz.org.



For preview copies, interviews and photos contact:  MARTY ASHBY / 412-322-0820 / mashby@manchesterbidwell.org