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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Jivin’ With the DJs: Jazz Tributes

In the 1940s and 50s the colorful, laidback radio personalities who helped introduce bebop and other new music to audiences inspired tributes from musicians.

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Jazz DJ

Photo: WFMU

Cool snaps: Al "Jazzbo" Collins painted word pictures of an underground jazz cave.

In the 1940s and 1950s the jazz format emerged on radio, and with it a number of colorful, laidback on-air personalities who helped disseminate the new sounds of bebop and early R & B. In response, musicians sometimes wrote and recorded tributes to these DJs. In this program, inspired by the passing of longtime DJ great Oscar Treadwell, we’ll hear Charlie Parker’s “An Oscar for Treadwell,” Allen Eager’s “All Night, All Frantic” (for the legendary Symphony Sid Torin), Illinois Jacquet’s “Jivin’ With Jack the Bellboy,” Mary Lou Williams’ “In the Purple Grotto” (for Al “Jazzbo” Collins, who pretended to broadcast from a cool, purple-colored chamber), and many more. Note to south-central Indiana listeners: the Bloomington street Treadwell Lane is named after the jazz DJ!

Music Heard On This Episode

Oska T.
Thelonious Monk — Big Band and Quartet (Columbia/Legacy, 1963)
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Oska T.
Thelonious Monk — Big Band and Quartet (Columbia/Legacy, 1963)

Notes: excerpt from Monk's theme for jazz DJ Oscar Treadwell.

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One for Mort
Booker Ervin — The Blues Book (Prestige, 1964)

Notes: With Carmell Jones on trumpet; written for jazz DJ Mort Fega.

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Jumpin' With Symphony Sid
King Pleasure — The Bebop Singers (Prestige, 1952)

Notes: Lester Young's theme for Sid Torin.

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All Night, All Frantic
Allen Eager — Bebop Spoken Here (Proper, 1947)

Notes: Name of Symphony Sid's NYC jazz show.

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Treadin' With Treadwell
Wardell Gray — Wardell Gray Memorial V. 1 (Prestige, 1950)

Notes: For jazz DJ Oscar Treadwell.

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An Oscar for Treadwell
Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie — Bird and Diz (Verve, 1950)

Notes: For jazz DJ Oscar Treadwell. Written by Parker; Thelonious Monk on piano.

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Disc Jockey Jump
Gene Krupa/Gerry Mulligan — Mullenium (Columbia/Legacy, 1947)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Jivin' With Jack the Bellboy
Illinois Jacquet — Complete Illinois Jacquet Sessions 1947-1950 (Mosaic, 1947)

Notes: Tribute to white crossover DJ Ed McKenzie. Fats Navarro on trumpet.

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Robbins' Nest
Claude Thornhill — 1946-47 Performances V. 2 (Hep, 1947)

Notes: Written by Illinois Jacquet and Sir Charles Thompson for NYC jazz DJ Fred Robbins.

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Line for Lyons
Gerry Mulligan — Gerry Mulligan Quartet Featuring Chet Baker (Fantasy, 1952)

Notes: For West Coast jazz DJ Jimmy Lyons.

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In the Purple Grotto
Mary Lou Williams — Ladies of Jazz: Mary Lou Williams and Barbara Carroll (Koch, 1951)

Notes: For Al

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One for Daddy-O
Cannonball Adderley — Somethin' Else (Blue Note, 1958)

Notes: For jazz DJ Daddy-O Daylie. With Miles Davis on trumpet; written by Nat Adderley.

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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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