Courtesy of the Montgomery Family

More than 200 stations and statewide public TV networks aired Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery beginning Feb. 1, 2024 including stations from Alaska and Hawaii to New Hampshire to California with many cities and states in between. In fact, the film reached 76 percent of the national potential television audience via American Public Television (APT). Among stations and state networks carrying the film were KQED in San Francisco, WLRN in Miami, and WPPT in Philadelphia, plus Maryland Public Television, KET, South Carolina ETV, KRMA Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver, Alaska Public Media, KCTA Twin Cities PBS in St. Paul, PBS Hawaii, NJTV (New Jersey), WNTP in Nashville, Vermont Public TV, and many more.

You can find the film now on the PBS Passport streaming platform and on It all started on Feb. 26, 2023 with our presenting station, WTIU in Bloomington, Ind. That link includes some additional background on the film. Also, WTIU produced a separate program–a tribute to Wes’s music with live in-studio music performances of Indianapolis professionals and Indiana University student musicians playing the arrangements of IU Jacobs School of Music Assoc. Prof. Brent Wallarab.

Since that great start and more recently, the national public TV exposure, Wes Bound has enjoyed some international recognition from the New York Festivals’ TV and Film Awards. The New York Festivals bestowed is Silver Award in the Documentary: Biography/Profiles category. The Bronze winners included documentaries from Channel 4/UK and Netflix. Finalists included documentaries from NHK Japan and Fox Sports Network. Gold winners were from the BBC and German public television. We find ourselves in good company.

It all started with an interview with Wes Montgomery’s widow, Serene Montgomery Woods, back in 2019. Other early interviews included jazz musician/Wes fan Lee Ritenour, and rock musician/Wes fan Eric Johnson. Both are Grammy winners and both wrote tribute songs to their hero, Wes. After the worst of the pandemic, we resumed principal photography in 2021 with interviews with Pat Metheny and George Benson. More big interviews followed in 2022, including with Slash (a huge Wes fan who told Wes’s son Robert his goal is to own all of Wes’s albums) and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, co-founder of Steely Dan and later, a member of the Doobie Brothers. Along the way, we talked with Indianapolis musicians, some who knew him personally and played with him–like bassist Larry Ridley. We sat down with Russell Malone at Birdland in New York and talked with Mimi Fox in between tour stops. We went to Chicago for a thoughtful conversation with the great trumpet player Pharez Whitted, part of a another great Indianapolis jazz family–the Hamptons. And there were so many more conversations, including with an Indiana Ave. jazz historian, today’s generation of Indianapolis jazz musicians, the son of Wes’s brother, the bassist Monk Montgomery, and the widow of Wes’s younger brother, pianist and vibraphonist Buddy Montgomery.

Most significantly, Wes Bound was always a journey of self-discovery for Wes’s youngest child. Robert Montgomery led most of those conversations with musical greats and with others who knew or knew of his father, who died when Robert was only six. It all ties together in the poignant end of the film as George Benson sums up his friend and idol, Wes, and also Robert’s journey to introduce future generations to his father’s greatness as a musician and goodness as a human being.