New Movie Uncovers the History of Jazz in Pittsburgh


Great Pittsburgh jazz musicians

Amila Niksic, Writer

I recently attended the premiere for a new documentary, We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told. Produced by Marty Ashby through the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild,  the documentary is an hour-long picture about Pittsburgh’s jazz scene during the 1940’s and 50’s. It features legendary Pittsburgh jazz musicians including George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn and Mary Lou Williams.  The documentary was over 10 years in the making and includes incredible original footage from the archives of museums around Pittsburgh, as well as a collection of Teenie Harris’ photographs from the period.  The film, besides discussing Pittsburgh as a legendary jazz town, also covers important issues like gentrification and what caused the end of the jazz era in Pittsburgh.  The documentary is being featured on over 300 stations around the country and is to be aired on WQED at 7pm on Sunday, February 18th.