Night Lights Classic Jazz

Come On Down To Central Avenue: Jazz In Mid-20th Century L.A.

Jam sessions, bebop, r and b, big bands, visits from Hollywood celebrities--as the center of African-American culture in L.A., Central Avenue had it all.

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Black California

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"Black California"

In this program we explore the sounds of the mid-20th-century Los Angeles jazz scene with historian Steve Isoardi, editor of the oral history book Central Avenue Sounds.

Jam sessions, bebop, r & b, big bands, visits from Hollywood celebrities; as the center of African-American culture in L.A., Central Avenue had it all. We’ll hear the music of artists such as:

  • Dexter Gordon
  • Howard McGhee
  • Hadda Brooks
  • Charles Mingus
  • Gerald Wilson
  • Lionel Hampton

and other jazz greats who got their start on the Avenue or spent significant time there. With Mr. Isoardi as our guide, we’ll also take a verbal stroll through the vibrant streets of the Central Avenue neighborhood circa 1945.

Music Heard On This Episode

Sippin' With Cisco
Roy Porter — Central Avenue Sounds (Rhino, 1948)
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Sippin' With Cisco
Roy Porter — Central Avenue Sounds (Rhino, 1948)

Notes: Soloists include a young Eric Dolphy.

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California Swing
Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders — Jazz in California 1923-1930 (Timeless Records, 1930)

Notes: With future Ellingtonian Lawrence Brown on trombone, and Lionel Hampton on drums and vocals.

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Dial-ated Pupils
Howard McGhee — Trumpet at Tempo (Jazz Classics, 1946)

Notes: With Dodo Marmarosa on piano and Teddy Edwards on tenor sax.

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Central Avenue Breakdown
Lionel Hampton/Nat King Cole — Central Avenue Sounds (Rhino, 1940)

Notes: Music bed for Steve Isoardi's reconstructed Central Avenue stroll.

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That's My Desire
Hadda Brooks — I've Got News for You (Virgin, 1947)
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R.M. Blues
Roy Milton — Roy Milton and His Solid Senders (Specialty, 1945)
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Cruisin' With Cab
Gerald Wilson — 1945-46 (Classics, 1946)
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Mischievous Lady
Dexter Gordon — Dial Sessions (Stash, 1947)

Notes: midpoint music bed.

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The Chase (Part 1)
Dexter Gordon/Wardell Gray — Dial Sessions (Stash, 1947)
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Bedspread
Charles Mingus — West Coast 1945-49 (Uptown Records, 1946)
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Black Night
Charles Brown — Driftin' Blues (Collectables/Aladdin, 1950)
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Deacon's Hop
Big Jay McNeeley — Central Avenue Sounds (Rhino, 1951)

Notes: Live broadcast.

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Pipedream
Charles Mingus — West Coast 1945-49 (Uptown Records, 1946)
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Collette
Buddy Collette — Central Avenue Sounds (Rhino, 1948)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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