PBS has two programs in the coming week that focus on New Orleans Blues and the Jazz Age. This Friday, September 30 at 9pm (Eastern), British actor Hugh Laurie showcases his musical side in a Great Performances episode filmed in New Orleans. October 2-4, 8-10pm nightly, brings Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's Prohibition, about the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution and its effect on (or creation of) the Jazz Age.
Laurie says he finds his greatest satisfaction and inspiration from the mixture of blues and jazz that grew out of New Orleans at the beginning of the last century. This Great Performances, "Let Them Talk," includes documentary and interview segments during Laurie's travels around the city. The program features his performances with blues legends Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, as well as a fellow countryman Sir Tom Jones. With concert sequences filmed at the historic Latrobe’s building in the French Quarter, the musical selections include New Orleans blues standards along with some forgotten and neglected gems.
On Friday at 6:30pm, tune into WBGO for the WBGO Journal as TV Guide's Bruce Fretts stops by to preview Prohibition. Ken Burns will also be a guest on Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio on WBGO Jazz88.3FM on Monday, October 3 at 6:30pm.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. One of the many cool things about the Smithsonian's monthlong celebration has been online. The creators of the LEGENDS OF JAZZ PBS series put together a one-hour web special, hosted by 2007 NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis, that features conversations with and music by NEA jazz royalty - pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, trombonist Curtis Fuller, singer Jimmy Scott, Basie-veteran Frank Wess, and saxophonist Phil Woods. Nancy Wilson, herself an NEA Jazz Master, talks with Ramsey Lewis about his own half-century career. Find it here.