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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Jazz Goes Folk

In the late 1950s and early 1960s folk music became the new countercultural music of choice on college campuses. Here's how some jazz artists responded.

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  • John Benson Brooks

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    Photo: album art

    John Benson Brooks: "Folk Jazz U.S.A."

  • Far Out Folk

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    Photo: album art

    Fred Katz's "Folks Songs for Far Out Folk"

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the folk music movement in America hit a commercial zenith with artists such as the Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary enjoying great success, particularly on college campuses, where they competed with jazz as students’ counter-cultural music of choice.

Several jazz artists responded to the movement with albums based around folk-music themes. One such artist, composer and arranger John Benson Brooks, had been interested in exploring such a path since the late 1940s. He even performed a folk-jazz concert with popular folk act the Weavers at New York City’s Town Hall in 1950.

The Night Lights show Jazz Goes Folk features music from the albums of unsung hardbop heroes, such as:

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Music Heard On This Episode

Wayfaring Stranger
John Benson Brooks — Folk Jazz U.S.A. (LoneHill, 1957)
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Wayfaring Stranger
John Benson Brooks — Folk Jazz U.S.A. (LoneHill, 1957)
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Skip to My Lou
Frances Faye — Frances Faye Sings Folk Songs (Bethlehem, 1957)
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John Henry
Frances Faye — Frances Faye Sings Folk Songs (Bethlehem, 1957)
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Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair
Bill Smith — Folk Jazz (OJC, 1960)
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Tom Dooley
Harold Land/Carmell Jones — Mosaic Select (Mosaic Records, 1963)
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Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Harold Land/Carmell Jones — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1963)
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Blowin' in the Wind
King Curtis — Have Tenor Sax, Will Blow/Live at Small's Paradise (Collectables, 1966)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Randall My Son
John Benson Brooks — Folk Jazz U.S.A. (LoneHill, 1957)
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First Movement: Themes
John Benson Brooks — Alabama Concerto (OJC, 1958)
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Foggy, Foggy Dew
Fred Katz — Folk Songs for Far Out Folk (Reboot Stereophonic, 1958)
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Shenandoah
David Amram — Jazz Studio 6 (Decca, 1957)
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Goodnight Irene
Clifford Jordan — These Are My Roots (Atlantic, 1966)
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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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