Detroit Performs: Jazz

Detroit Jazz City

Tune in Sunday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m. for rebroadcasting.

Detroit Public TV and WRCJ 90.9 FM spotlights Detroit’s role in helping introduce Jazz music to the world in the new half-hour documentary, Detroit Jazz City.

The film focuses on the history of Jazz in Detroit, while also sharing the stories of those Detroiters who have made monumental contributions to this original art form.


Donald Byrd, Tommy Flanagan, the Jones Brothers, Ron Carter and so many other legendary jazz artists got their start here in Detroit.

To quote, Mark Stryker, whose book, “Jazz in Detroit,” is the definitive work on the subject: “You can’t tell the story of jazz in America without also telling the story of jazz in Detroit.”

Detroit Public TV and WRCJ 90.9 FM spotlight Detroit’s immense contribution to the world of jazz in the new documentary, “Detroit Jazz City.”

It focuses on the history of jazz in Detroit, while also sharing the stories of those Detroiters who have made monumental contributions to this original art form. Hear from jazz greats including Wendell Harrison, Rodney Whitaker, Marion Hayden and Joan Belgrave, who talk about how Detroit’s tight-knit jazz community provided a vibrant and rigorous training ground for musicianship.

“People don’t realize the importance of Detroit jazz,” says Joan Belgrave, noted vocalist, composer and producer, in the documentary. “Of course, you got New Orleans. You got New York. But then there’s Detroit … It’s a little different. But the expectation is higher.

‘When you say that you are from Detroit, they expect you to be a badass.”

Stryker and WRCJ’s great jazz crew – John Penney, Maxine Michaels and Linda Yohn — also discuss  Detroit’s impact on the course of modern and contemporary jazz.

This project was made possible by a grant from: Alex and Carole Anne Nakeff & Sandy Koltonow and Mary Schlaff.

Ken Burns’ Jazz

Filmmaker Ken Burns tells the story of jazz — the quintessential American art form. The 10-part series follows the growth and development of jazz music from the gritty streets of New Orleans to the Lincoln Gardens on Chicago’s south side, where Louis Armstrong first won fame, from Prohibition-era speakeasies to the wide-open clubs of Kansas City, from the elegant Roseland Ballroom in Times Square, where only whites were allowed to dance, to the more egalitarian Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where people of all colors mingled.

Six years in the making, Jazz features 75 interviews, more than 500 pieces of music, 2,400 still photographs and more than 2,000 archival film clips — many rare and never before seen. Third-person voices are provided by Samuel L. Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Derek Jacobi and Harry Connick Jr., among others.


Jazz on WRCJ 90.9FM

Sponsored by

Dr. Alexander Nakeff and Carole Anne Nakeff

Sandy Koltonow and Mary Schlaff

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