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New WTIU programs honor jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery

Bloomington, Ind., February 17, 2023 — Two new programs from WTIU Public Television will honor the life and music of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery in time for the centennial of Montgomery’s birth.

On Sunday, February 26, WTIU will premiere Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery at 8 p.m. and Wes Montgomery at 100: A 100th Birthday Tribute Concert at 9:30 p.m.

Two-time Grammy winner John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was born in Indianapolis on March 6, 1923 and rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time. His story is told through the eyes of his youngest child, Robert Montgomery, in Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery.

Narrated by NPR’s Eric Deggans, this first full-length documentary of Wes Montgomery reveals how he defined a generation of jazz music and left a worldwide musical legacy. His distinct sound comes from the way he would play his guitar using the direct touch of his thumb on the strings, producing a softer, more melodic tone. The musicians interviewed in the film describe their admiration for Montgomery’s iconic sound and how he still influences them today.

“What Coltrane is to the saxophone, Wes Montgomery is to the guitar,” says Grammy-winning jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour in Wes Bound.

In addition to Ritenour, Wes Bound includes interviews with platinum record-selling artist George Benson, rock and roll guitar icon Slash, 20-time Grammy winner Pat Metheny, Russell Malone, Mimi Fox, Steely Dan co-founder Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Grammy-winning rock guitarist Eric Johnson, second-generation Hampton family musician Pharez Whitted, bassist Larry Ridley (formerly of Indianapolis), Wes’s touring drummer Billy Hart, and others.

Following the premiere of Wes Bound, viewers will experience the music of Wes Montgomery in a new concert film collaboration between WTIU and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Recorded before a live audience in the WTIU studio, Wes Montgomery at 100: A 100th Birthday Tribute Concert features the IU Jacobs School of Music Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of associate professor Brent Wallarab, and a performance by the celebrated jazz trio of guitarist Dave Stryker, organist Bobby Floyd, and drummer Sean Dobbins. The virtuosity of Wes Montgomery is explored through his music and interviews with the concert performers.

Learn more about the Wes Montgomery programs at After their premieres on WTIU, both shows will be available to stream on PBS Video starting February 27. The programs will air again on WTIU on Sunday, March 5, and on Monday, March 6, on the 100th anniversary of Wes Montgomery’s birth. A complete list of air dates and times follow:

Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery

Sunday, February 26 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m.

Monday, March 6 at 8 p.m.


Wes Montgomery at 100: A 100th Birthday Tribute Concert 

Sunday, February 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 5 at 3 p.m.

Monday, March 6 at 9:30 p.m.

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