Rocky Mountain PBS is thrilled to offer rich programming for Jazz Appreciation Month, and not just because they’re such big fans of KUVO JAZZ. Jazz is a uniquely American art form with a history that dates back more than a century. For decades, PBS has brought its viewers live performances, documentaries, and profiles of some of the genre’s biggest names — as well as names who were otherwise lost in history.

The National Museum of American History created Jazz Appreciation Month — which takes place every April — in 2001. This year, Rocky Mountain PBS is providing a curated list of our Jazz offerings for April, which you can read below.

Thursday, April 4

7:00 p.m.Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time
Millions of people love the music of Dave Grusin but may not know his name. Discover Grusin’s journey from Colorado cowboy to Oscar and Grammy-winning composer. Packed with archival images and concert footage, the film also shares intimate interviews with Quincy Jones, Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton, Tommy Lipuma, Marcus Miller, and many others.

8:30 p.m.JazzTown
JazzTown is a tribute to Denver jazz musicians by one of their own, drummer Ben Makinen. Performances and interviews with local musicians such as Charles Burrell and Ellyn Rucker. Tune in to hear what makes Denver JazzTown.

9:30 p.m.Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius
This film tells the remarkable life story of renowned African American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player Eddie Henderson. Eddie’s curiosity and need for exploration led him down many career paths, including figure skating, medicine, and music.

10:00 p.m.Next at The Kennedy Center | Continuum: Jason Moran and Christian McBride
Music icons Jason Moran and Christian McBride collaborate for an electrifying jazz performance at the Kennedy Center. They share stories about their legendary teachers and introduce us to their remarkable proteges.

Monday, April 8

10:00 p.m.American Masters | Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes
Explore the extraordinary life and musical career of the legendary drummer, composer, and social activist. The film follows Roach’s career and personal struggles and triumphs, across a series of masterful musical innovations and artistic reinventions. His creativity and unshakable sense of mission kept him at the forefront of music and activism across seven decades —from the era of the Jim Crow South, to the Civil Rights years… from the heady days of post-war modern jazz to the hip-hop era and beyond.

Friday, April 12

9:00 p.m.Next at The Kennedy Center: Ben Folds Present Declassified
Ben Folds invites the virtuosic Jacob Collier, rising jazz superstar Laufey, and chart-topping English singer-songwriter Dodie, to join him and the National Symphony Orchestra to reimagine their music through an orchestral lens.

10:00 p.m. Bird Out of Nowhere
As the world celebrates the centennial of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s birth, this film looks back at the twenty-one years Charlie spent at home in Kansas City and on his long-lasting impression on Kansas City Jazz.

Monday, April 15

10:30 p.m. The Gennet Suite
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music associate professor Brent Wallarab conducts the Indiana University student jazz ensemble in an original composition, which pays tribute to the Jazz Age titans whose legendary early recordings were produced at a little studio in Richmond, Indiana called Gennett Records. The performance program The Gennett Suite features music inspired by artists including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, Bix Beiderbecke, and Jelly Roll Morton.

Thursday, April 18

7:00 p.m. The Last Mambo
“The Last Mambo” is a documentary that explores the heritage of the San Francisco Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz community. This unique enclave of Latin music performers and audiences struggles to maintain culture, creativity, and community despite dramatic socioeconomic and demographic changes. The film explores post-WWII Northern California’s emerging multi-ethnic music community, the 1950s Mambo craze, the 70’s heyday of Salsa, and subsequent expansions of the art form. Despite today’s fast-changing media environment and decreasing audiences and venues, Bay Area performers are transforming the future of Afro-Latin music and dance through education and outreach.

Friday, April 19

9:00 p.m.Next at The Kennedy Center: Joshua Redman, Where Are We
Renowned jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman takes the stage at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater for a mesmerizing performance of his Blue Note Records debut album, “where are we.” Joining forces with soulful vocalist Gabrielle Cavassa, the artists take on music from Rodgers & Hart to Springsteen, all interpreted with the improvisational brilliance and melodic invention that is a hallmark of Redman’s artistry — and of this all-star ensemble featuring Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Sanders (bass), and Brian Blade (drums).

10:00 p.m.Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery
Traces the life and career of legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Told intimately through his son Robert’s journey of discovery, the program explores Wes’ early years in Indiana, his rise to fame with the Lionel Hampton Big Band, his notable solo career, and his tragic death at age 45. The film features numerous rarely-seen performances, as well as interviews with music historians from across the country and guitar luminaries such as Pat Metheny and Slash.

Sunday, April 21

5:00 p.m. Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius
This film tells the remarkable life story of renowned African American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player Eddie Henderson. Eddie’s curiosity and need for exploration led him down many career paths, including figure skating, medicine, and music.

Thursday, April 25

7:00 p.m.Wham Re-Bop-Boom Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham
Eddie Durham heard music differently, and he played it differently, too. Carrying rural southwestern blues influences with him from his hometown of San Marcos, Texas, Eddie became a leading architect of the Kansas City swing jazz sound in the 1920s and ’30s. As a trombonist, guitarist, writer and arranger, he helped to author the signature sounds of Count Basie, Benny Moten, Jimmie Lunceford, and Glenn Miller, while his pioneering work with amplified and electric guitars paved the way for today’s rock ‘n roll. Through interviews with family, friends and devoted fellow musicians of all ages, “Wham Re-Bop-Boom Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham” follows the musical journey of this often overlooked, but totally unique, musical genius.

10:00 p.m.Eliades Ochoa: From Cuba to the World
The life and career of acclaimed guitarist and singer Eliades Ochoa, who rose to worldwide fame in the late ’90s as an original member of the legendary international Cuban band, The Buena Vista Social Club. Over the decades, he has played with several folk groups and dedicated his life to celebrating and preserving the traditional folk roots of Cuban music. Through rare photographs, archival footage, and interviews with family, friends, and fellow musicians, “Eliades Ochoa: From Cuba to the World” paints an intimate portrait of this legendary Cuban musician and explores the larger arc of traditional Cuban Son music.

Friday, April 26

10:00 p.m. Terence Blanchard in Dallas
Celebrate the music of two-time Academy Award-nominee and seven-time Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard. In February 2023, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra presented two evenings of Blanchard’s work, shining a light on his musical genius and groundbreaking compositions. During the first night, soprano Karen Slack and baritone Nicholas Newton joined the DSO and conductor Maurice Cohn for the first orchestral performance of selections from Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Blanchard’s opera. Fire Shut Up in My Bones was the first opera that The Metropolitan Opera had staged by a Black composer in its 138-year history. The following evening, Blanchard and his band, the E-Collective, along with the Turtle Island String Quartet, presented a set from Absence, his latest jazz album release. “Terence Blanchard in Dallas” presents select performances from both nights in a one-hour special. Interviews with Blanchard also go behind the scenes of the creative process, his history of composition, and his influences and motivations. Conversations with Slack, Newton, and bass player David Ginyard complement the performances and share Blanchard’s generosity and brilliance as these projects came to life. With extensive jazz and classical performances from the stage of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, a remarkable musical event that celebrates one of the most important and groundbreaking musicians working today.

RMPBS Program Director Brad Haug joined The Morning Set in anticipation of this Jazz Appreciation Month Line-up. He provided some really fun insights into some of these programs. Hear the full conversation below!

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