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Archive for Night Lights Classic Jazz

December 31, 2008


A Freddie Hubbard Tribute With David Baker

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, who died on Monday at the age of 70, was one of Indiana's true jazz giants, rubbing historical shoulders with the likes of J.J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, and Hoagy Carmichael.

December 30, 2008

Living Theater Revives "The Connection"

The Living Theater is reviving Jack Gelber's groundbreaking 1959 play The Connection, a study of drug addicts (some of them jazz musicians) pontificating on their lives and chemical loves. The cast includes saxophonist Rene McLean, whose father Jackie performed in the original version, and will be directed once again by Judith Malina, who will also play the role of Sister Salvation.

December 19, 2008

G.M. Pulls Out of Montreal Jazz Festival

The New York Times is reporting that General Motors is withdrawing its sponsorship from the Montreal Jazz Festival, one of the North American continent's most acclaimed annual jazz celebrations.

December 9, 2008

Blue Note Records Announces More Catalogue Deletions

Blue Note Records sent out an e-mail today announcing more catalogue deletions, on the heels of a similar announcement two weeks ago.  You can view the entire list (which includes titles from a larger family of Blue Note-related labels) at True Blue Music. Warning, folks: it’s a veritable bloodbath.

December 8, 2008

Obama: We'll Have Jazz at the White House

President-elect Barack Obama appeared on NBC’s weekly Sunday-morning program Meet the Press yesterday and gave indication that we’ll be seeing more jazz performances at the White House after he takes office: The president-elect said his administration is interested in “elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about.”

December 5, 2008

Jazz News of Note

*Columbia University's Center for Jazz Studies has put up a Jazz Studies Online site, which I'm adding to the Night Lights blogroll page. Looks like a cool site-for starters, they've put up the entire first issue of the legendary but short-lived late-1950s journal Jazz Review. *Speaking of cultural studies of a sort, check out this 1964 Playboy symposium on jazz, posted by Detroit Free Press music critic (and Bloomington native) Mark Stryker over at Organissimo. Participants included Cannonball Adderley, Dave Brubeck, Ralph Gleason, Charles Mingus, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, and Gunther Schuller.

December 4, 2008

Mosaic Announces John Handy Set

Mosaic Records has announced a forthcoming 3-CD Select set of saxophonist John Handy's mid-1960s Columbia recordings, including some previously unreleased material from a 1967 concert performance. Other soon-to-be-issued projects include Louis Armstrong's 1930s and 40s Decca recordings (March 2009), and a three-CD set of pianist Denny Zeitlin's mid-1960s Columbia albums (February 2009).

December 1, 2008

West Coast Jazz: Get It While You Can

Jazz aficionados generally have little use for various-artist anthologies. They're seen as gateway collections for beginners, whereas hardcore veteran listeners tend to want all-inclusive single-artist monoliths replete with alternate takes, unissued masters, etc. (Sony/Legacy's Miles Davis series is an excellent example-even though the later electric boxes have drawn in some younger, non-aficionado buyers.) Exceptions are made, of course-particularly for comprehensive label overviews like Mosaic Records' Commodore trilogy and sets that document lesser-known but important milieus or periods, such as the Wildflowers collection that captures the mid-1970s New York loft scene.

November 18, 2008

Sassy's Happy Sobs: Sarah Vaughan at the White House

An article in the Sunday, November 9 New York Times about the history of African-American visitors to the White House came with a jazz twist at the end involving Sarah Vaughan. Vaughan performed at the White House in 1964 as part of a state dinner hosted by president Lyndon B. Johnson for the prime minister of Japan. In Leslie Gourse's Vaughan biography pianist Bob James described the singer's nervousness before her appearance in the East Room, an area with an intimacy that James compared to "working in a living room."

November 12, 2008

Mosaic Records Returns to the Vinyl Biz

Jazz lovers with a yen for vinyl, take note: Mosaic Records is getting back into the LP business. The limited-edition, jazz-specialty company stopped releasing vinyl versions of their sets years ago, but they've taken note of vinyl's resurgence and decided to return to this particular corner of the marketplace, albeit on a somewhat different scale. In an e-mail sent out today, Mosaic chief Michael Cuscuna highlights the label's new online vinyl site ( complete with blog) and cites the 2005 LP release of the Thelonious Monk-John Coltrane Carnegie Hall concert as a signal moment for Mosaic's renewed direction.

November 1, 2008

A Great Jazz Band: NPR On the Lexington Program

All Things Considered did a story tonight on the Addiction Research Center that was a part of the federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky. The segment alludes to the many talented jazz musicians who passed through this program in the 1940s and 1950s, including Sonny Rollins and Tadd Dameron, who took what came to be known as "the Lexington cure."

October 31, 2008

Ghostly Jazz and Popular Song for Halloween, Part 2

On the heels of Ghostly Jazz and Popular Song for Halloween Part 1, here's Part 2, with music from Miles Davis ("Sorcerer"), Sun Ra ("Hour of Parting"), Mildred Bailey ("Smoke Dreams")...

October 31, 2008

Ghostly Jazz and Popular Song for Halloween, Part 1

This week on WFIU's Afterglow we get into the "spirit" of things, so to speak, with "Ghost of a Song," a program of otherworldly songs in honor of the Halloween holiday. Prominent among our ethereal cast are Fred Astaire ("Me and the Ghost Upstairs"), Nina Simone ("I Put a Spell On You"), Lambert, Hendricks and Ross ("Halloween Spooks"), Leon Redbone ("Ghost of St. Louis Blues"), Billie Holiday ("Ghost of Yesterday")...

October 28, 2008

JazzTimes Editor Responds to PREX Critique

JazzTimes editor Lee Mergner responds to the PREX critique of Downbeat and JazzTimes:Objectively, I believe he's overreacted to our cover choices, including most recently Return to Forever, Esperanza Spalding, Freddie Hubbard and David Sanborn. I'm not sure why he dropped the cover artist Rahsaan Roland Kirk; I suppose it didn't fit his argument.

October 28, 2008

Jazz Magazines Bad For Jazz?

A blogger at the Princeton Record Exchange Club takes jazz media to task for "vacuous writing, PR cliches, and tame thinking," singling out Downbeat and Jazz Times as primary suspects. The writing and argument is a little rough around the edges, but it's a provocative point. Like the author, I subscribe to both magazines, and there's no doubt that they represent the mainstream jazz "establishment," such as it is. But are they really damaging jazz, as he suggests?

October 27, 2008

Update on Ahmad Jamal Mosaic Box

A few months ago Mosaic Records confirmed a forthcoming Ahmad Jamal box-set, covering the pianist's trio recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s, currently projected for a March or April 2009 release. Some more details have emerged now on the box's contents (supposedly 9 CDs). It will contain the following Argo and Chess-label albums:

October 22, 2008

Close Enough for Jazz: Wynton Marsalis on the Colbert Report

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis made an appearance Monday night on The Colbert Report, trading verbal fours with the inimitable ex-presidential "candidate". It's always interesting to see how guests act on Colbert-whether they get the concept and play along (as most do, especially these days) or whether they end up cluelessly deadpan.

October 21, 2008

Edie Adams and Stan Getz

Actress Edie Adams, who passed away this past week at the age of 81, had some jazz connections. Most famously wedded to comedian Ernie Kovacs, she later married trumpeter Pete Candoli, and she also appeared in this memorable commercial with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz:

October 12, 2008

Jazz Photographer William Claxton Passes Away

William Claxton, whose photos of jazz artists became iconic talismans of the music they played, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

October 9, 2008

The Johnny Green Songbook, Part 2

Johnny GreenJohnny Green may not have been the most prolific of composers, but some of the songs he wrote music for turned into significant standards, including "Body and Soul," "Out of Nowhere," and "I Wanna Be Loved." Although Green is best remembered for these compositions, he actually spent the bulk of his career working in the movie industry.

October 9, 2008

The Johnny Green Songbook, Part 1

Composer Johnny Green wrote the music for several songs that went on to become staples of the jazz-and-popular-song canon. After an unhappy turn as a stockbroker, Green abandoned Wall Street in favor of songwriting and penned many of the tunes for which he'd gain fame, as well as leading his own orchestra throughout much of the 1930s.

September 23, 2008

Anthony Braxton Mosaic: Outtakes From the Liner Notes

Mosaic's forthcoming Anthony Braxton set, The Complete Arista Recordings, is a long-awaited dream-come-true for fans of the jazz avant-garde, and it's now available for pre-order at the Mosaic website. The set's liner notes were written by musician and scholar Mike Heffley, who gave Mosaic a draft that was twice as long as what they were able to use.

September 17, 2008


Star On Miles: The Return Of Miles Davis

At the dawn of the 1980s trumpeter Miles Davis emerged from a five-year retirement and made his way back into the limelight. Dogged by health issues, by his own account Davis had spent much of his hiatus watching television, engaging in personal excess, and rarely picking up his trumpet.

September 17, 2008

Lord Buckley As Go Man Van Gogh

There seems to have been a bit of a Lord Buckley revival in recent years, which is a good thing. Buckley, by many accounts the original hipster comedian, had a storied career and is known best for his hip-speak riffs on Jesus, Shakespeare, the Gettysburg Address, Edgar Allen Poe, and other high-canonical texts.

September 16, 2008

Jest Finite: David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

David Foster Wallace, the writer who reinvigorated the long-essay form to depict the wide, strange breadth of modern life, and who created a landmark in contemporary American fiction with his novel Infinite Jest, has died at the age of 46.

September 16, 2008

Turning Night Lights Back On

Apologies for our unavailability the past two days-the remnants of Ike passed through these parts on Sunday and temporarily did our server in. We'll have info up soon for this week's show (Miles Davis in the early 1980s), plus something that I wrote about the late author David Foster Wallace on Sunday night, and a note about...

September 10, 2008

Jazz Quotes: Miles Davis

Miles Davis, in addition to being one of the most talented and distinctive musicians to grace the annals of jazz history, had a unique reputation when it came to his speaking voice-both for his hoarse whisper and his pithy, rather Zen-like way of communicating with his band members, which sometimes resulted in amusing exchanges, such as his retort to John Coltrane's lament that he couldn't stop soloing: "Try taking the saxophone out of your mouth." While working on an upcoming Night Lights show about Miles' early-1980s period, I came across this story about saxophonist Bob Berg in Paul Tingen's Miles Beyond: the Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991:

September 6, 2008


Last Of The Lions: Gerald Wilson

Longtime bandleader Gerald Wilson led powerhouse orchestras in both the 1940s and the 1960s. Each band exemplifies the Wilson sound-layered, harmonically rich, drawing on influences that range from Duke Ellington and 20th-century classical to Mexican music, and carried out by strong soloists such as Snooky Young, Harold Land, and Joe Pass.

August 30, 2008

Night Lights on Labor Day-Chicago and Elsewhere

WDCB, one of two stations in the Chicago area that continue to broadcast jazz, is airing three Night Lights programs in a row on Labor Day Monday evening, from 7 to 10 p.m. Central Time-Cats Who Swing and Sing: Women Singer-Pianists of the 1940s and 50s, 1959: Jazz's Vintage Year, and Porgy and Bess: the 1950s Jazz Revival.

August 29, 2008

When Sonny Slayed the Dragon

Jazz critic and radio host Neil Tesser has written an account of Sonny Rollins' mid-1950s sojourn in Chicago, during which the tenor saxophonist overcame his addiction to heroin and eventually rejoined the jazz scene.

August 25, 2008


The Horace Silver Songbook

Jazz pianist Horace Silver is a founding father of hardbop and soul jazz and one of the most renowned figures of the post-World War II jazz scene. Many of his compositions, such as “Opus de Funk,” “The Preacher,” “Nica’s Dream,” and “Peace” have become jazz standards heard frequently today.

August 20, 2008

Songs for Some Jazz Fathers: Shorter, Silver and Wilson

Three significant jazz masters will be celebrating milestone birthdays in the next several weeks. On August 25, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter turns 75. On September 2, pianist Horace Silver marks 80 years. And on September 4, bandleader Gerald Wilson-perhaps the last great living link to the swing era-sees in his 90th birthday. I have Night Lights programs in store for all three artists, and I'm sure there will be other jazz-radio tributes around the country.

August 7, 2008

Play It in the Closet: the Return Farewell of J.D. Salinger

43 years ago J.D. Salinger, the reclusive writer who rose to cult status in the 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his novel talented but troubled Glass family, bade farewell to the published literary life with a long piece of fiction titled Hapworth 16, 1924.

August 5, 2008

Jazz News of Note

*Pianist Michael Weiss, a longtime musical associate of the late Johnny Griffin, has written a remembrance of the saxophonist.

August 4, 2008


On A Turquoise Cloud: Duke Ellington After The War, 1945-47

At the end of World War II Duke Ellington was coming off one of the most commercially and artistically successful periods of his career-the so-called Blanton-Webster years of the early 1940s.  But the cultural landscape was changing in ways that would challenge, provoke, and inspire Ellington as he continued to pursue his unique musical vision.

August 3, 2008

Dick Twardzik Bio Lives!

Richard Twardzik, the rather haunted-looking pianist who was a mainstay of the Boston jazz scene in the early 1950s, recorded only once as a leader before dying at the age of 24 during a European tour with Chet Baker. His quirky, fluid style, influenced by Bud Powell and Art Tatum and sprinkled with touches of dissonance and classical music, has led some to compare him to fellow 1950s iconoclasts Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. Now Bouncin' With Bartok, a long-awaited study of pianist's life and recordings written by Jack Chambers...

July 26, 2008

The Little Giant Steps On: Johnny Griffin, 1928-2008

Tenor saxophonist and hardbop great Johnny Griffin has passed away from a heart attack at the age of 80. Griffin, nicknamed "the Little Giant" because he was five feet five but produced a contrasting sound of immense strength and individualism, had a long and successful career that touched on several facets of modern jazz history.

July 18, 2008

I'll Be Seeing You: Jo Stafford, 1917-2008

Jo Stafford, one of the last great vocalists from the "songbird" era of big band vocalists, passed away Wednesday at the age of 90. Stafford possessed one of the most graceful, limpid voices in the postwar popular music world, and she retained her popularity into the 1950s, scoring hits on her own and with Frankie Laine.

July 15, 2008

Golden Arms and Glasses: When Algren Met Holiday

Novelist Nelson Algren and singer Billie Holiday are two iconic figures of mid-20th-century American culture, though Holiday's name and visage-not to mention her voice-is surely better-known and remembered than Algren's is today

July 12, 2008


Jazz Impressions Of Paris

Jazz interpretations of the many songs that have been written about the City of Light, from Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Max Roach and more.

July 8, 2008

More on Rene Marie, Jazzwax's interview with Roy Haynes, Claude Thornhill in the Wall Street Journal, and inside comments from Mosaic's Scott Wenzel

A few items of interest from around the online jazz world over the long holiday weekend:Marie's website statement.

July 4, 2008

From the Archives: Let Freedom Ring

Night Lights made its debut on WFIU four years ago almost to the day-or night, as it were-with a program called Let Freedom Ring that aired on the eve of the July 4th holiday. I had been working at WFIU for exactly two years, subbing for weekday afternoon jazz host Joe Bourne and producing WFIU jazz specials such as Bix Beiderbecke: Never the Same Way Twice and Jump for Joy: Duke Ellington's Celebratory Musical. When the syndicated "Worldwide Jazz" show that we carried on Saturday evenings suddenly ceased production, I proposed Night Lights as a replacement to our station manager, Christina Kuzmych.

July 4, 2008

Uproar Over Jazz Singer Rene Marie's Take on the National Anthem

Rene Marie turned a relatively pedestrian event into a media tempest over patriotism when she sang the melody of "The Star-Spangled Banner" but imported lyrics from James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing", long referred to as "the black national anthem."

July 1, 2008

Jazz Icons Series 3 Update

The Jazz Icons website has posted discographical information about the previously-announced third set in their ongoing series of jazz-performance DVD releases. Due out in September...

June 28, 2008

Pianist Ronnie Mathews R.I.P.

Jazz pianist Ronnie Mathews has passed away at the age of 72 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Matthews had been the subject of an all-star benefit and tribute just last week at Sweet Rhythm in New York City.

June 28, 2008


Jazz Goes 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 and Joan Baez enjoying great success-particularly on college campuses, competing with jazz as the countercultural music of choice. Some jazz artists responded to the movement with LPs based around folk-music themes.

June 26, 2008

Ask David Amram

Multi-instrumentalist, jazz/classical/world maestro, and Beat Generation icon David Amram will be appearing at Farm Bloomington for a jazz-poetry performance this Friday evening, June 27 at 8 p.m. EST in Bloomington, Indiana. Amram, whose music has been featured in <em>Night Lights programs such as Jazz and Jack Kerouac...

June 22, 2008

Jazz Quotes: Allen Lowe

Jazz writer and musician Allen Lowe has put together a terrific series of 9-CD sets documenting jazz from 1895 to 1950 called That Devilin' Tune, which includes his book of the same name. I've posted about these sets before, particularly Volume 4, which covers the 1945-1950 period...

June 18, 2008

Mosaic New-Release Info Now Up for Dave Liebman, Helen Merrill, More

Mosaic Records has posted information, including discographies, about new sets featuring Dave Liebman's Pendelum group and some Helen Merrill jazz-vocal sides on their upcoming releases page, along with more details about the forthcoming early-1950s Oscar Peterson collection.

June 10, 2008

Tommy Dorsey: The Postwar Years With Bill Finegan And Sy Oliver

Jazzwax master blogger Marc Myers' mention of the late arranger Bill Finegan yesterday reminded me that I did a show about Tommy Dorsey's post-World War II orchestra a couple of years ago when I hosted WFIU's The Big Bands. As Marc points out, Finegan crafted some fantastic arrangements for that particular Dorsey ensemble.

June 6, 2008

Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Mosaic Set, Bud Powell Bio Update

*Mosaic Records will release a <a href="">three-CD Select set of mid-1970s RCA Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin big-band recordings</a> later this year.Elsewhere around the jazz blogosphere this past week...

June 5, 2008

Lost Legends of Indiana Jazz

On the heels of this past weekend's Great Day in Indy photo homage to Indiana jazz musicians, here's an article I wrote several years ago about some of the Hoosier state's lesser-known but interesting artists:If you walk the streets of Indianapolis today, you're bound to find scattered glimpses of the city's past preserved amid the present. The architectural majesty of...

June 3, 2008

NEA Announces 2009 Jazz Masters

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced its 2009 Jazz Masters awards, with notable worthies that include Jimmy Cobb, Lee Konitz, and Toots Thielemans. According to the NEA's...

June 2, 2008


Individualism: Gil Evans In The 1960s

Gil Evans, a Canadian-born pianist and composer, “enormously expanded the vocabulary of the jazz orchestra,” as writer Gene Lees pointed out, reducing the standard big-band instrumentation, restraining its vibrato, and adding flutes, oboes, English and French horns, and tubas.

May 28, 2008

Jump for Joy: When Chicago Met the Duke

Duke Ellington's 1941 musical Jump for Joy was a cultural milestone, an assertive, satirical riposte to the servile depictions of African-Americans in both film and the theater, and a forerunner of later extended Ellington works such as Black, Brown and Beige.

May 24, 2008

American Popular Song and World War II: Part 2

We'll hear music from Louis Jordan ("You Can't Get That No More"), Kitty Kallen with Jimmy Dorsey ("They're Either Too Young or Too Old"), Sam Donahue's Navy band ("Convoy"), a rare recording of Bing Crosby with Glenn Miller's AAF orchestra, and much more including the interruption of a Harry James big-band broadcast to announce the D-Day invasion.

May 24, 2008

American Popular Song and World War II: Part 1

We'll hear some of the martial-spirited songs from the early months of America's entry into the war ("Remember Pearl Harbor" and "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition"), as well as pre-war songs about the draft, songs about rationing and shortages, songs about the separation of lovers, and much more, including some radio news broadcasts.

May 22, 2008

Billy Taylor and Charles Mingus at Storyville

Pianist Billy Taylor's website has posted audio of a half-hour set at Boston's Storyville club in 1951, featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Marquis Foster on drums, with Nat Hentoff doing between-song stage announcements. The sound is crystal-clear by 1951 radio-broadcast standards, with...

May 22, 2008

Grand Theft Auto With a Classic Jazz Beat

The new Grand Theft Auto IV game has been rocking the country (not to mention the television airwaves-I've seen the ad countless times in the past couple of weeks), racking up millions of sales and even more millions of dollars. The commercial features a standard, pulsing rock-hiphop soundtrack sample, but Downbeat notes that the new edition has a jazz component as well, in the form of legendary...

May 20, 2008

Eric Dolphy Bio Coming From Penguin Jazz Guide Co-Author

Brian Morton, co-author (along with the late Richard Cook) of numerous editions of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, will be publishing a biography of multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy in June 2009. Dolphy died from diabetic complications at the age of 36 in Berlin in 1964

May 17, 2008

Vibes for Walt: Walt Dickerson, R.I.P.

Drummer Andrew Cyrille, who made some of his earliest recording dates with vibraphonist Walt Dickerson, passes along this sad news via the Jazz Programmer Listserv:

May 14, 2008

Oscar Peterson Verve Trio Mosaic Set

Organissimo poster Bluerein reports that Mosaic Records will issue an Oscar Peterson Verve trio set later this year. The set will contain Peterson's trio recordings made between 1951 and 1953 with Barney Kessel on guitar-no word yet on how many CDs it will contain. Other forthcoming sets this year...

May 14, 2008

A Great Day in Indy: a Photo Tribute to the Indianapolis Jazz Legacy

Inspired by Art Kane's legendary 1958 Great Day in Harlem photo of jazz musicians, jazz photographer Mark Sheldon is planning an Indianapolis version, A Great Day in Indy, that will offer visual homage to the city's jazz legacy. Details follow in the press release that Mark's sent out...

May 10, 2008

StopSmiling: the Jazz Issue

StopSmiling: the Jazz Issue

May 5, 2008

"Indiana Can Help Choose a President": Robert Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

(Note: an extended audio file version includes an interview with Ray Boomhower and clips of Robert Kennedy speaking during the 1968 campaign) “Indiana can help choose a president.” Those words, which may have a surprising relevance this year, were used by Senator Robert Kennedy to open speeches when he launched his campaign for the presidency in Indiana. In his new book, Robert Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary, Ray Boomhower provides the inside stories of how the New York senator scored an unlikely victory in the heart of the Midwest.

May 5, 2008


The Carla Bley Songbook

Carla Bley is renowned today for her big-band writing and its wide-ranging use of musical and emotional elements, but it was small-group recordings of her work in the 1960s by musicians such as Jimmy Giuffre, Gary Burton, George Russell, and her husband Paul Bley that introduced her to the jazz world.

April 28, 2008

Jimmy Giuffre Tributes Around the Web

*Marc Myers gathers remembrances from musicians who played with Giuffre (be sure to catch part 2 of Marc's tribute tomorrow).

April 26, 2008

Another Train, Another River: Jimmy Giuffre, 1921-2008

Jimmy Giuffre-a clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer-arranger who made significant musical contributions to late-1940s big band, 1950s West Coast and cool jazz, and the early-1960s avant-garde-has passed away at the age of 86.

April 22, 2008

Forthcoming HatOLOGY Reissues

HatHut Records, the European label that some consider to be the modern Blue Note (er, wait a minute, Blue Note still exists...but as a very hip man once observed, things ain't what they used to be) has posted some choice titles as forthcoming reissues-among them...

April 18, 2008

IAJE Cancels Seattle Conference, Declares Bankruptcy

The International Association of Jazz Education, a 40-year-old organization whose annual meetings have drawn thousands of artists, teachers, and industry people from around the world, has called off its 2009 Seattle conference and is going into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to Paul de Barros' article in the Seattle Times. Rumors and reports of the IAJE's troubles had been circulating for the past few...

April 16, 2008

Blue Note Connoisseurs for May 13: Art Farmer, Bobby Hutcherson, Dizzy Gillespie and More

Blue Note Records continues its long-running Connoisseur series with five more reissues on May 13: Bobby Hutcherson, Head On

April 13, 2008

Jazz and Film Scoring at the Museum of Modern Art

New York City's Museum of Modern Art opens an exhibition next week devoted to jazz and film scoring. Check out the list of movies they'll be showing over the next few months-impressive. WNYC aired a show Friday morning on the topic that includes interviews with composer Johnny Mandel, musician Bill Kirchner, and...

April 12, 2008

Legendary Savoy Producer Ozzie Cadena Dead at 83

Ozzie Cadena, who produced many of the Savoy label's 1950s jazz recordings, has passed away at the age of 83. Cadena recorded or produced artists such as Cal Tjader, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Donald Byrd, Cannonball and...

April 12, 2008

Update on Nessa Records Reissues, Gillespie Big Band With Monk

Word is that we'll probably see the following reissues from Nessa Records in several months: Roscoe Mitchell's Nonaah (with bonus material), Charles Tyler's Saga of the Outlaws, and...

April 10, 2008

Ornette Coleman at New York City's Town Hall

Gary Giddins writes it up in the new New Yorker, though strangely enough, he doesn't mention Coleman's previous, somewhat legendary appearance there in 1962. The lately-revived...

April 8, 2008

Saxophonist Phil Urso RIP

Saxophonist Phil Urso, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82, was another one of the many high-quality under-the-radar musicians from the 1950s and 1960s who never gained much of a profile beyond the immediate world of fellow artists and jazz devotees.

April 5, 2008

Benny Carter's Kansas City Suite

Rifftides blogger and jazz eminence Doug Ramsey hipped readers several days ago to a Sunday, April 6 broadcast of Benny Carter's rarely-heard "Kansas City Suite." It's at 1 p.m. PDT on

April 4, 2008

Anthony Braxton Mosaic in the Works

Lots of Mosaic Records news lately-now it appears, according to a post at, that the long-talked-about Anthony Braxton 1970s set featuring his recordings for Arista and Freedom may be on its way to manifestation in the reality-based retail community...coming this...

April 3, 2008

New Stations for Night Lights, another Duke Ellington Mosaic box, and Marc Myers' interview with Bud Shank

*Several radio stations around the country are adding Night Lights to their weekly lineup. KMHD-Portland, Oregon will be carrying the program at 8 p.m. PDT on Monday evenings. Beginning May 10, KOSU-Oklahoma Public Radio will broadcast Night Lights on Saturday evenings at 11 p.m. CDT. And KMBH/KHID-McAllen and Brownsville, Texas will soon

March 31, 2008


Too Little, Too Soon: Booker Little

Booker Little was a talented young trumpeter and composer who’d already begun to fulfill his promise when illness struck him down at the age of 23.

March 30, 2008

Another Set of Jazz Icons DVDs On the Way

The Jazz Icons series has been earning well-deserved raves from jazz fans around the world for its two rounds of live concert releases on DVD, featuring compelling and historical performances from the likes of Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious get the picture. (And the sound!) A third wave of titles has been announced-we'll be seeing the following come September...

March 23, 2008

Jazz and Religion: The Church of John Coltrane

The Saint John Coltrane Church in San Francisco has always been a source of curiosity for Trane fans and jazz lovers who've heard of it, not to mention less-jazz-and-Trane-inclined skeptics sure to offer a cynical "what's that all about" smile.

March 21, 2008

Jazz for the Easter Weekend

Some previous Night Lights shows from the archives, offered as listening suggestions for the coming weekend:Music for Peace: Mary Lou Williams' Sacred Jazz. An early Night Lights show...

March 16, 2008

Mosaic Count Basie and Lester Young, a Charlie Haden Interview, and More

Some jazz news of note from the past week or so...*The widely-syndicated, Siskel-and-Ebert-style radio jazz programListen Here! will cease distribution at the end of this month. Word is that NPR's long-running...

March 15, 2008


Jazz Flower Power: The Charles Lloyd Quartet

In the mid-1960s, as rock music continued its powerful ascent while jazz seemed to split into two camps of what one journalist tagged "heard-it-all-before or never-want-to-hear-it-again," tenor saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd formed a quartet that found enthusiastic favor with young rock audiences.

March 10, 2008

Bix Beiderbecke: Never the Same Way Twice

“Bix is jazz’s Number One Saint,” critic Benny Green once wrote of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke. In 2003 I produced a one-hour WFIU centennial tribute to the man who, in the span of six years and more than 200 recordings, left a legacy that still echoes through jazz today, as well as a troubled personal tale that continues to provoke scrutiny.

March 6, 2008

Kung Fu Jamming: When Cannonball Met Feliciano

Once upon a time in the West-yes, Cannonball Adderley and Jose Feliciano guest-starred as two traveling musicians on the 1970s TV show Kung Fu, carrying their respective alto sax and guitar through the dusty milieu of the American frontier (do not ask, grasshopper, if this was a frequent instrumental combination in the Wild West of the 1870s).

March 4, 2008

Larry Kart: Jazz's Intrepid Critical Searcher

Around this joint we are big fans of the jazz writer Larry Kart and his book, Jazz in Search of Itself. As I've noted in our store section, Kart, who worked at Downbeat and was a longtime reviewer for the Chicago Tribune, "is not just a good critic-he's a very good writer, whether he's discussing Wynton Marsalis and the so-called 'neocon' musicians, Lennie Tristano...

March 3, 2008


Look What I Got: Betty Carter

One of the most expressive and original singers to come out of the post-World War II era, Betty Carter thrilled audiences with her daring vocal improvisations and her no-nonsense jazz attitude.

March 1, 2008


Cats Who Swing And Sing: Women Singer-Pianists Of The 40s And 50s

These artists elevated the profile of women musicians at a time when the jazz world was unfriendly to female instrumentalists. By combining their piano-playing with vocals, though, they were able to enjoy the spotlight of a singer and to put their keyboard talents on display as well.

February 26, 2008

Mosaic To Release Ahmad Jamal Trio Set

Mosaic Records, that fine purveyor of jazz box-set goods from the East (as in Stamford, Connecticut), has reportedly long been trying to put together some kind of collection featuring pianist Ahmad Jamal's influential 1950s trio.

February 23, 2008

The Jazz Baroness Redux

Last week JazzWax blogger Marc Myers mentioned getting an e-mail from Hannah Rothschild, producer of the BBC documentary about jazz patron Pannonica de Koenigswarter, aka Nica, that I recently posted about. Turns out that she's making a television documentary about Pannonica as well-and there's now a website devoted to the Baroness which includes the BBC radio program in non-expiration form...

February 22, 2008

Teo Macero, Man Behind Electric Miles and More: RIP

Teo Macero, a saxophonist, composer, and record producer who helped craft many of Miles Davis' late-1960s and early-1970s electric-jazz records, has passed away at the age of 82.

February 12, 2008

The Jazz Baroness On the BBC

A couple of weeks ago Bernard Gordillo, who writes the WFIU early-music show Harmonia, mentioned a recent interest in Pannonica de Koenigswarter, also known as Nica, the Jazz Baroness, or simply the Baroness. The Baroness was a sort of jazz patron, a woman well-liked by the jazz musicians she befriended on the mid-20th-century New York bebop scene; she counted Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk among her closest companions from that community. As a wealthy white woman spending time...

February 5, 2008


Jump For Joy: Duke Ellington's Celebratory Musical

The inspiration came from a late-night party, a convergence of Hollywood glamour and early civil-rights activism with one of America's greatest jazz orchestras. In the summer of 1941, as Americans warily regarded a world war that seemed to be edging ever closer to their shores, Duke Ellington staged an all-black musical with a message.

February 5, 2008

John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 4

Handy discusses why his quintet broke up, his experiences as a jazz educator, and his memories of Monterey and the mid-1960s rock scene.

February 2, 2008

John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 3

Handy talks about his troubled relationship with his first record label, his move back to California in the early 1960s, and the formation of his quintet.

January 31, 2008

John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 2

Handy discusses a unique aspect of his sound, the night Mingus made a scene listening to him play, and the frustrations he faced recording his first album.

January 30, 2008

John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 1

Handy talks about early encounters with Dexter Gordon and Art Tatum, why he came to favor the alto saxophone, and the legendary young bassist Albert Stinson.

January 28, 2008

Woody Herman's Swingin' Herd

A commonly-heard phrase in late 1950s/early 1960s jazz parlance was, "Will the big bands come back?" Woody Herman, leader of the great 1940s orchestras the First and Second Herds, had a retort: "Sure, next football season."

January 28, 2008


Handy With The Horn: The Rise Of John Handy

John Handy is one of the few surviving saxophone heroes from the 1950s and 60s golden age of hardbop. A featherweight boxing champion as a teenager, Handy tested and honed his jazz skills throughout the 1950s on the San Francisco jazz scene, where he was a regular at the city's famed Bop City club.

January 19, 2008

"Dear Martin" Around the U.S., Bill Evans and the Two Debbys, the Ellington Treasury Series, and More

A number of radio stations around the country have picked up the Night Lights show Dear Martin: Jazz Tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. Station links and air dates follow:KSJD-Cortez, Colorado: Monday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m...

January 18, 2008

Mike Fitzgerald's Jazz Discography Project

Jazz scholar Mike Fitzgerald, co-author of the Gigi Gryce biography Rat Race Blues, has been leading an effort to build a wonderful online jazz discography resource for the past several years. Recently he added 50 more leader discographies to his website, including pages for...

January 16, 2008

Pianist Frank Kimbrough On the "Air"

Pianist Frank Kimbrough, who co-founded the Herbie Nichols Project (he can be heard playing and speaking on the Night Lights program Strange City: the Secret Music of Herbie Nichols</a>) will be on the radio twice in the next week: Thursday, Jan. 17 from 11:20-noon EST on WAMC-Albany (Performance Place With Michael Eck) and next Tuesday...

January 15, 2008

From the Archives: Dear Martin (Jazz Tributes to Martin Luther King Jr.)

Today would have been Martin Luther King Jr.'s 79th birthday if he were still alive, and his absence from American public life for the past 40 years remains as one of the great tragedies of our recent history. The official holiday commemorating his birth takes place next Monday, but in remembrance of his actual birthday I wanted to let readers and listeners take note of the 2006 Night Lights program <

January 14, 2008

Superman Soars Off: Pete Candoli, 1923-2008

Pete Candoli, a big-band and West Coast trumpeter whose Superman-caped solos with the mid-1940s Woody Herman orchestra captured the exuberance of the swing era, has passed away at the age of 84

January 9, 2008

Jazz Around the Internet: A New Site and More

Jazz Around the Internet: A New Site and More

January 7, 2008


Jazz For After The Dentist: Cannonball Adderley And Bill Evans

The album that brought together two key musicians from Miles Davis' KIND OF BLUE and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

January 2, 2008

"Jazz Impressions of Show Boat" Part 2

More from last Friday evening's Afterglow program devoted to jazz and jazz-vocal recordings of the songs from Show Boat. Hour 2 features several very different versions of "Ol' Man River," including a contemporaneous ...

January 2, 2008

"Jazz Impressions of Show Boat" Part 1

Last Friday evening's Afterglow program, featuring jazz and jazz-vocal interpretations of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's songs for the musical Show Boat, is now available for online listening...

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