Ramsey Lewis hosts 13-week “Legends of Jazz” series in HD at Ch. 11 for airing on national PBS

Chicago is about to regain its once-dazzling reputation for jazz as production of a series on the music and artists gets underway at Ch. 11.

“Legends of Jazz” is a 13-week, half-hour series hosted by Chicago jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, with Larry Rosen, one of the greats of the music industry, as an executive producer.

“Legends” will swing for three months at Ch. 11’s 5,400-sq. ft. Studio A and like “Sound Stage” performances in the next studio, will be shot in HD and 5.1 surround sound.

New York-Miami-based Rosen is the co-founder of GRP with composer/producer/performer, etc. Dave Grusin. GRP?the world’s biggest selling jazz label?is now part of the Universal Music Group.

“This is a huge understanding, HUGE!” said Rosen with a laugh. “We’re bringing people to Chicago from all over, we’ve built a set?everything’s state-of-the-art?and we have to keep it coordinated to make it the most cost effective in the shortest period of time.”

The series developed as Lewis, a GRP recording artist, talked to Rosen about his “Legends of Jazz” radio and asked how Rosen could get involved. “Television was the place for the changing dynamics of the music business,” Rosen told Lewis, who brought Rosen to Ch. 11 executives to explain the concept.

Each show has a jazz-related theme, Rosen described, such as jazz trumpet, the first show in production. “The show opens with the Ramsey Lewis Trio playing the theme song. Ramsey gives a brief history over archival footage.

“One of our guests is Clark Terry, a jazz great who played with the likes of Duke Ellington and provides the historical point-of-view. Then Ramsey introduces and talks to hot young artists Roy Hargrove and Christopher Botti. At the end of the show, all the legends play the theme.”

“Legends” is scheduled to premiere on national PBS in January, 2006, although the show could bump forward to an earlier period in the fall.

Launching the series on June 16 is an hourlong special, “Legends of Jazz: The Masters,” which Rosen said features five artists instead of three, and follows the same format as the show.

Lewis, Rosen and a third partner, Lee Rosenthal, are the partners in LRSMedia Inc., producers of the show in cooperation with WTTW. Rosen said they plan to follow up the show with concerts and a recorded product on the new dual disk format introduced this year, which has a CD on one side and a DVD on the other.

Steve Dupler is the show’s writer and a producer; Ch. 11’s Jack Ginay directs and Nicolette Ferri produces.

Ch. 11 is located at 5400 N. St. Louis; phone, 773/583-5000. Nicolette Ferri’s number is 773/509-5592.

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