PITTSTON, Pa. – WVIA and Chiaroscuro Records have announced the premiere of a new original documentary titled WHAM Re-Bop-Boom-Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham, which will be made available to public television stations nationwide on February 1st, distributed through American Public Television (APT). The film will be broadcast on over 250 APT member stations nationwide.
Eddie Durham was an American jazz guitarist, trombonist, composer, and arranger. He was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar in jazz music, and is credited with being the first person to record an amplified guitar when he was featured on the 1935 Jimmie Lunceford recording of Durham’s arrangement of “Hittin’ the Bottle.” Eddie Durham is a key figure in the evolution of twentieth-century music. He began to experiment with his acoustic guitar as early as 1929, enhancing its volume with an affixed pie pan. He also played a National steel guitar (with a resonator) through a microphone at live shows.
“They didn’t have any sound amplifiers. So I’d get any kind of amp I could find and sit it on the corner of the stage and run a cord to the guitar, and that was it,” Eddie Durham once stated. “And if we were playing in a big auditorium, I’d go directly into the sound system. You couldn’t play rhythm like that because it was too loud. I used to blow the lights in a lot of places.”
Through the testimonials of family, friends and devoted fellow musicians of all ages, Wham-Re-Bop-Boom-Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham follows the musical journey of this often overlooked, but totally unique, musical genius.
Produced and directed by WVIA’s Kris Hendrickson and Executive Producer Ben Payavis II, along with Music Director and Producer Loren Schoenberg of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the film will be presented and distributed by American Public Television. WHAM Re-Bop-Boom-Bam will air on public television stations nationwide in February 2024 (check local listings for airdates).
“Eddie Durham was an innovator who helped shape a whole era of American music, no question. But he also had that rare gift of being able to bring people together, in bands and in life, across multiple generations and widely varying social backgrounds. He found the best in everyone, and everyone who knew him was a better musician and a better person for it,” said Producer Kris Hendrickson. “Our hope is that this documentary will help more people get to know Eddie Durham and, consequently, bring more people together through their appreciation for and admiration of him.”
The documentary preview screening on January 11th at The Juilliard School in New York City offered an opportunity for students to perform original Eddie Durham arrangements that had never been recorded, allowing the next generation of jazz musicians to perform and further preserve his music.
That event included remarks from Marcia “Topsy” Durham, Eddie’s daughter and inspiration for his hit of the same name, Dr. Aaron Flagg, Loren Schoenberg, WVIA’s President and CEO Carla McCabe, and Hendrickson. Photos from the event can be found here.
“It’s so important to honor Eddie Durham’s legacy and to play his music, especially for young people,” said Dr. Aaron Flagg, Chair and Associate Director of Juilliard Jazz. “That really helps them understand the journey that the great American music known as jazz has taken.”
This film provides a unique look into the life and career of Eddie Durham, including details from those who knew him best. The story of Eddie Durham is told through interviews with an array of jazz musicians such as Russel Malone, Vincent Gardner, James Chirillo, jazz historians Robert O’Meally, Dennis Spragg, and more. It also includes interviews with Durham’s daughter Marcia and sons Eric and Terrance.
“There’s been a lot of talk about roots; roots of civilization, families, of art, and history. When it comes to music in America, very few artists have deeper roots than Eddie Durham, and finally, a documentary has been produced to reveal how deep his story truly is. Above all, it’s a story of talent, perseverance, and love”, said Producer Loren Schoenberg.
The trailer for WHAM Re-Bop-Boom-Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham can be viewed here.
For a full list of PBS stations carrying WHAM Re-Bop-Boom-Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham, please visit our website here, or contact your local station directly.
About Chiaroscuro Records and WVIA
Chiaroscuro Records is a division of WVIA Public Media. WVIA is the PBS and NPR affiliate serving over 22 counties in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. For over 50 years WVIA has been committed to serving the people by offering informational, educational, and entertaining content that enriches and expands viewpoints and serves as a catalyst for positive change. WVIA television channels include WVIA TV, WVIA PBS Kids 24/7, and WVIA Create. WVIA’s radio channels include WVIA Radio, WVIA HD2, and the Chiaroscuro Channel. WVIA’s programs can also be found streaming live and on-demand on wvia.org and the WVIA app.
About American Public Television
American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and more than one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, dramas, how-to programs, classic movies, children’s series and news and current affairs programs. Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, America’s Test Kitchen, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Pacific Heartbeat, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television, The Indian Doctor, Legacy List with Matt Paxton, Lidia’s Kitchen, Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen, Simply Ming, The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, Front & Center, James Patterson’s Kid Stew and NHK Newsline are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — and WORLDTM, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. APT’s newest venture, APT Podcast Studios, presents podcast productions including “If This Food Could Talk,” “Armchair Explorer” and “Gravy.” More information at APTonline.org
WVIA educates, inspires, entertains and fosters citizenship, diverse cultures, and perspectives to nurture community.