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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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