Night Lights Classic Jazz

Dear Martin: Jazz Tributes To Martin Luther King Jr.

King was a jazz fan, and eloquently expressed his admiration for the music; numerous jazz musicians repaid the compliment.

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MLK Jr.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MLK Jr.: "Jazz speaks for life."

“Dear Martin” is a program of jazz tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was a jazz fan, and eloquently expressed his admiration for the music in his opening remarks to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival. We’ll hear music from Oliver Nelson’s 1969 album Black, Brown and Beautiful; Nina Simone’s performances of “Sunday in Savannah” and “Mississippi Goddam,” from a concert taped just three days after King’s death in 1968; Blue Mitchell’s “March on Selma”; Duke Ellington’s “King Fit De Battle of Alabam”; Mary Lou Williams’ “Tell Him Not to Talk Too Long”; and two 1970 recordings from Louis Armstrong.

Watch Oliver Nelson and the Berlin Dream Band perform Nelson’s “Black, Brown and Beautiful”:

Music Heard On This Episode

Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)
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Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)

Notes: Opening theme.

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We Shall Overcome
Louis Armstrong — Louis Armstrong and His Friends (Bluebird, 1970)

Notes: Orchestra arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson.

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Self-Help Is Needed
Oliver Nelson — Black, Brown & Beautiful/A Dream Deferred (LP) (Flying Dutchman, 1969)

Notes: Frank Strozier on alto sax.

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I Hope in Time a Change Will Come
Oliver Nelson — Black, Brown & Beautiful/A Dream Deferred (LP) (Flying Dutchman, 1969)

Notes: Oliver Nelson on soprano sax.

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Black, Brown & Beautiful
Oliver Nelson — Black, Brown & Beautiful/A Dream Deferred (LP) (Flying Dutchman, 1969)

Notes: Oliver Nelson on alto sax.

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King Fit De Battle of Alabam
Duke Ellington — My People (Red Baron, 1963)
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March on Selma
Blue Mitchell — Down With It (Blue Note, 1965)
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Requiem, Afterthoughts
Oliver Nelson — Black, Brown & Beautiful/A Dream Deferred (LP) (Flying Dutchman, 1969)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Sunday in Savannah
Nina Simone — Sugar In My Bowl (RCA, 1968)
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Mississippi Goddam
Nina Simone — Sugar In My Bowl (RCA, 1968)
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Tell Him Not to Talk Too Long
Mary Lou Williams — Mary Lou's Mass (Smithsonian Folkways, 1969)
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Martin Was a Man, a Real Man
Oliver Nelson — Black, Brown & Beautiful/A Dream Deferred (LP) (Flying Dutchman, 1969)
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What a Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong — Louis Armstrong and His Friends (Bluebird, 1970)

Notes: Orchestra arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson.

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Night Lights
Gerry Mulligan — Night Lights (Polygram, 1963)

Notes: Closing theme.

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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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