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Take Five X 18: Writings On Jazz For NPR’s A Blog Supreme

Looking back at NPR's "jazz in five recordings" series.

Banner for NPR's A Blog Supreme

Photo: NPR

Although A Blog Supreme is now defunct, NPR continues to cover jazz, including occasional interviews with bassist and Jazz Night In America host Christian McBride.

Nearly three months ago NPR eliminated its jazz beat writer position and sunset A Blog Supreme, its website column devoted to all things jazz. On his last day, the congenial and talented writer in question, Patrick Jarenwattananon, provided a retrospective essay about the blog’s mission and history. Although NPR continues to highlight jazz stories from time to time in both its broadcasts and online postings, as well as promoting the program Jazz Night In America, the absence of a steady editorial presence is a glaring omission in its arts and cultural coverage. (What would A Blog Supreme have had to say, for example, about the role that jazz plays in director Damien Chazelle’s new critically-acclaimed film La La Land? Chazelle, by the way, is the guy who also made Whiplash, the Oscar-nominated movie that caused such an uproar in the jazz community.)

A Blog Supreme also included an ongoing feature called Take Five: A Jazz Sampler, in which a wide range of jazz topics were explored through five recordings that represented the topic at hand. Back in 2011 Patrick and NPR Music maven Lars Gotrich, in an act for which I remain exceedingly grateful, invited me to begin contributing to Take Five, and over the course of the next several years I wrote 18 pieces, some of which grew out of or into Night Lights programs. Here are all 18, in descending chronological order, covering sacred jazz, jazz in the age of Prohibition, jazz renditions of spirituals, late-period Duke Ellington, 1970s big bands, and much more:

God Is In The House: Five Sacred Jazz Recordings

Billy Strayhorn In Five Songs

The High Priestess Of Soul: Nina Simone In Five Songs

In Memoriam: Jazz Elegies

Wade In The Water: Five Jazz Takes On Spirituals

Duke Ellington: Highlights Of His Twilight

The Women In Charge Of The Band

History As Symphony: The African-American Experience In Jazz Suites

Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: Class Presidents

Indiana Avenue: Further Echoes (The Once-Thriving Jazz Scene of Indianapolis)

David Baker’s 21st Century Soul Music

That Seventies Big Band

Five Hauntingly Hip Sides For Your Jazz Halloween

Five Jazz Sides For The Age Of Prohibition

Five Classic Jazz Takes On Porgy And Bess

So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n Roll Star: Five Classic Pop-Rock Sides With Jazz Soloists

Five Platters For Your Fourth Of July Picnic

Jazz On The Range: Five Cinematic Sides

(Special thanks to Patrick Jaranwattananon and Lars Gotrich)

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