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Archive for Night Lights Classic Jazz

December 29, 2009

Relaxin' With The Fireside Afterglow

Music for the final days of December and the beginning of the New Year.

December 24, 2009

"It's Jazz, Charlie Brown: The Vince Guaraldi Story," WBEZ Chicago

A 20-minute excerpt from the Night Lights show kicks off WBEZ's holiday special.

December 24, 2009

Holiday Snow From Afterglow And The Night Lights Before Christmas

Some Yuletide offerings from Afterglow and the Night Lights archives.

December 21, 2009


Hep To The Holidays

Night Lights' annual holiday tribute celebrates the season with plenty of cool-Yule jazz from Chet Baker, Bob Brookmeyer, John Coltrane, Shorty Rogers and more, including poet Sascha Feinstein's reading of his "Christmas Eve" poem about the legendary 1954 Thelonious Monk-Miles Davis studio encounter.

December 18, 2009

Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links, Friday December 18, 2009

Miles is kind of honored, ECM is reissuing some cool back-catalogue titles, Michael Steinman hips us to a great online Billie Holiday photo archive, and more.

December 14, 2009


Bob Brookmeyer And Some Of His Friends

Bob Brookmeyer emerged in the 1950s as a trombonist, composer and arranger steeped in both traditional and modern jazz. His musical alliances with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and Jimmy Giuffre helped him build the elegant, understated power that would inform Mulligan's early-60s Concert Jazz Band and other Brookmeyer-associated projects of that era.

December 11, 2009

Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links For Friday, December 11, 2009

Interviews with Sam Rivers and Darcy James Argue, new reissues of Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington, a new online jazz journal and more.

December 7, 2009


It's Jazz, Charlie Brown: The Vince Guaraldi Story

Vince Guaraldi's music is loved by millions of people around the world—forever associated with the TV version of a popular comic strip. Who was the man behind that music? Jazz critic Doug Ramsey, Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson, Guaraldi's son David and others join Night Lights this week for a musical exploration of Vince Guaraldi's jazz legacy.

November 30, 2009


Extension: Clare Fischer In The 1960s

For 50 years pianist, composer and bandleader Clare Fischer has had one of jazz's most interesting careers, exploring Latin, bossa nova, and other genres.

November 25, 2009

When Hoagy Met Johnny: The Carmichael-Mercer Connection

The songwriting collaborations of Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer-the hits and the lost and little-known songs as well, with recordings from Nat King Cole, Helen Forrest, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, and Hoagy and Johnny themselves.

November 19, 2009

Cold War Jazz From The Archives

Companion pieces for this week's "Jazz Impressions of Brubeck" program: a biographical and musical portrait of Voice of America jazz DJ Willis Conover, and an in-depth look at the U.S. State Department's sponsorship of international jazz tours during the Cold War era.

November 18, 2009

Johnny Mercer At 100

Afterglow honors the centennial of one of America's greatest songwriters, with recordings of Johnny Mercer's songs by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and others. Afterglow founding host and Mercer expert Dick Bishop joins the program to share his insights about the man from Savannah.

November 17, 2009


The Jazz Loft Project: Bringing A Hidden History To Life

The reclamation of an amazing 1950s/60s New York City jazz shrine, through photographs, interviews, and audio recordings of jazz greats and other artists at work and at play.

November 9, 2009


Dolphy '64

Eric Dolphy, a highly-skilled musician who played alto sax, bass clarinet, and flute, created a bracing, unique sound forged in both bop and the avant-garde. His last year was one of his greatest, as he worked with pianist Andrew Hill and bassist Charles Mingus, and recorded an album for Blue Note that many consider to be his masterpiece.

November 4, 2009

"Jazz Is An Accident Waiting To Happen": Spinal Tap Weighs In

Forget time-consuming books or hip artistic koans-the members of Spinal Tap tell you what jazz is really all about:

October 29, 2009

Halloween: Haunted Love Songs, Strange Enchantment

Haunted late-night love songs and some "spirited" jazz for your Halloween holiday.

October 26, 2009


Sweet Smell Of Success: Jazz Meets Showbiz Noir

In 1957 a fading Depression-era playwright, two hot box-office stars and a West Coast jazz group all played prominent parts in creating a dark portrayal of New York City showbiz life that’s now considered a cinematic masterpiece. Film-expert James Naremore and musicologist Phil Ford us to talk about the look and sound of "Sweet Smell of Success."

October 16, 2009

Oscar Peterson Sings; Revolutionary Jazz Cover Art; Time Travel

Oscar Peterson as singer, a new book of jazz album covers from the 1960s and 70s, and more.

October 12, 2009


Art Tatum: The Group Masterpieces

Pianist Art Tatum's speed and harmonic imagination often left other musicians astonished, inspired, or in despair. By way of a centennial tribute, here are some who managed to keep up with him, including Benny Carter, Ben Webster, and Roy Eldridge.

October 9, 2009

Hank Williams Songbook, A New Thelonious Monk Biography, And More

Hank Williams goes pop 'n jazz, Robin D.G. Kelley's new Monk biography is out, and more in the weekly round-up.

October 8, 2009

John Zorn: Tradition And Transgression

A new book takes an in-depth look at the sources and inspirations behind the music of avant-garde artist John Zorn.

October 5, 2009


John Zorn: Hardboiled Bop

Saxophonist John Zorn is a modern avant-garde icon, but in the late 1980s he recorded several tributes to heroes of the 1950s and 60s hardbop era such as Hank Mobley and Sonny Clark, honoring them with an edgy passion that also revealed Zorn's skills in a straightahead jazz setting.

September 28, 2009

A Henry Threadgill-Air Set, On The Way From Mosaic

Another release in the offing from Mosaic features the late-1970s, 80s, and mid-90s recordings of saxophonist Henry Threadgill, including three albums that Threadgill made as part of the legendary trio Air.

September 28, 2009


Before Broadway: George Benson In The 1960s

In the 1970s George Benson was a crossover star with a smooth pop style. Yet years before, he’d established a legacy as a jazz guitarist brimming with talent.

September 25, 2009

Music For The Autumn, New Station News, And More

Afterglow's annual autumn tribute program...Night Lights comes to Erie, Pennsylvania...and Sam Rivers and Sinatra/Jobim on NPR.

September 23, 2009

A Birth Supreme: John Coltrane

Past and present tributes to the saxophonist, including reflections on the Coltrane church and a heads-up on a Trane-set bargain.

September 21, 2009


The John Coltrane Songbook

John Coltrane revolutionized the sound of modern jazz and wrote a number of compositions that have become jazz standards. “The John Coltrane Songbook" celebrates the saxophonist’s birthday with performances of Coltrane pieces such as “Naima,” “Countdown” and “Giant Steps” by Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, Dave Liebman, Steve Kuhn and more.

September 14, 2009

Mosaic To Release Bing Crosby Set

Mosaic Records will have a collection of mostly-unreleased Crosby recordings out in time for the holidays.

September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend: Popular Song On The Picket Line

Labor Day meets the Great American Songbook, as Afterglow takes a look at satirical and political protest music of the 1930s and 40s, performed by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday and others.

August 31, 2009

Last Of The Vo-Cool School: Chris Connor, 1927-2009

Chris Connor, a vo-cool singer and one of the last living vocalist links to the big band era, has passed away at the age of 81.

August 31, 2009


Impulse: The Vocal Sides

Impulse Records gained renown in the 1960s for its progressive-vanguard releases by artists such as John Coltrane and Archie Shepp, but the label also released a handful of jazz-vocal albums by singers like Johnny Hartman, Jackie Paris and Lorez Alexandria.

August 27, 2009

Hail To The Chief: Lester Young At 100

Centennial Prez tributes are rolling in from all over this morning, and Night Lights and Afterglow pay homage as well.

August 12, 2009

Jazz Death? V. 59

Rumors-of-demise department: Last week jazz writer and blogger Terry Teachout wrote a Wall Street Journal column that cited some rather depressing numbers concerning jazz audiences from a recent National Endowment for the Arts survey. Basically, according to the NEA, over the past 25 years the jazz audience has gotten older and smaller.

August 10, 2009


Very Early: Bill Evans, 1956-1958

Bill Evans is one of the most influential pianists in jazz history, renowned for his lyrically seductive style. But at the beginning of his career he had a different sound, full of rhythmic drive and the bop influences of his early role models. "Very Early: Bill Evans 1956-58" features his recordings with George Russell, Charles Mingus and more.

August 3, 2009


Claude Thornhill: The Godfather Of Cool

Claude Thornhill was a pianist, composer, and arranger whose 1940s big bands helped shape the sound of modern jazz, with orchestral bop and ethereal ballads tinged with classical influences that set the stage for later masterpieces by Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

July 31, 2009

Jazzy Retro Cinema Trailers (A.K.A. Snipes)

Remember the jazzy little trailer that used to announce a General Cinema feature presentation?

July 28, 2009

George Russell: The Quiet Force Behind Modern Jazz

George Russell, the composer, theorist and pianist who passed away Monday night at the age of 86, helped shape the sound of jazz as we know it today. If there was a "birth of the cool" at the end of the 1940s, Russell pointed the way to the "birth of the modal" that came at the end of the 1950s.

July 27, 2009


Live At Cafe Bohemia: Hardbop In The Heart Of Greenwich Village

In the mid-1950s Cafe Bohemia was one of the most happening jazz clubs in New York City—a Greenwich Village club that caught the vibe of Manhattan’s thriving art and intellectual scene. Those who checked it out might find Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, or Miles Davis either playing or sitting in the crowd.

July 17, 2009

Lady Day Remembered: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday died 50 years ago today. From the archives, Night Lights offers several musical and written remembrances.

July 16, 2009

Jazz News Of Note

JazzTimes is coming back, a new photo exhibition of jazz musicians who toured for the State Department, and more.

July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day

In honor of the holiday, some previous Night Lights shows with a French theme-programs about American jazz expatriates in France, jazz in the postwar French cinema, and jazz interpretations of songs about Paris.

July 13, 2009

Night Lights Online Survey

We are working on developing a podcast for Night Lights, changing the way we make audio files of the program available to you, and also adding more content to the blog. If you have a few moments, could you take this brief online survey and let us know what you'd like to see (and hear)?

July 13, 2009


A Few Words About Jazz: John Gennari's Blowin' Hot and Cool

Jazz criticism first emerged in the 1930s and has played a role not only in how the music's been heard, but sometimes in the way it's been made. We'll hear some of the music that's inspired the most debate, and we'll also talk with John Gennari, author of a recent history of jazz criticism, BLOWIN' HOT AND COOL.

July 1, 2009

A July 4th Popular-Song Celebration, On Afterglow

On Afterglow this week, a festive and reflective tribute to Independence Day with music from Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Paul Desmond and more.

July 1, 2009

We Made It! A Note Of Thanks

A note of thanks for the success of the recent Night Lights fund-drive.

June 28, 2009

Night Lights On Facebook: Some Shows You Might Like

You can now become a fan of Night Lights on Facebook. If you're just discovering the program through Facebook, here are some shows you might want to check out.

June 27, 2009

Billy Eckstine On Roulette

Billy Eckstine, the so-called "Sepia Sinatra," shows up in many jazz histories as the leader of a great, cutting-edge big band of the 1940s. But he should be remembered for being an amazing jazz vocalist as well. This week's Afterglow program covers his circa-1960 stint on the Roulette label, including albums made with Count Basie and Billy May.

June 26, 2009

From Indiana To Neverland: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson changed the landscape of American pop culture-a feat the scale of which we may never see again. Sadly, the culture changed him, too, as he looked to it to give him back something he'd never had.

June 15, 2009

Mosaic Records Releases Artie Shaw Set This Autumn

Mosaic Records has a Shaw set in the works-plus updates on Ellington and Jamal projects.

June 13, 2009

Frank Zappa Meets Steve Allen, Plays Bike

In 1963 a 22-year-old Frank Zappa went on Steve Allen's TV show and demonstrated some far-out musical sounds on an unusual instrument: the bicycle.

June 6, 2009


The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman And Little

Memphis is renowned throughout the world for its remarkable contributions to 20th-century popular music. But Memphis also has a jazz legacy, and one group of musicians that emerged from the city in the late 1950 gained such notice among their wider-world colleagues that they were eventually dubbed "the Memphis Mafia".

June 2, 2009

Night Lights: 25 Reasons To Give $25

I started Night Lights because I felt passionately driven to do a jazz show about some of its greatest players and most exciting decades. There are also stories to tell of unsung musicians, cities and scenes... and those sounds and stories depend on your support.

May 30, 2009


Benny Goodman's Interlude In Bop

A program devoted to the so-called "King of Swing's" late-1940s foray into the revolutionary sounds of bebop, featuring young modernist side musicians such as Wardell Gray, Mary Lou Williams, and Fats Navarro.

May 25, 2009

A Retrospective Memorial Day: Looking Back At 1945

The sounds and stories of the year that changed everything, including interviews, news clips, and the music of Bing Crosby, Woody Herman, Charlie Parker and more.

May 23, 2009


Turn Out The Stars III: More Jazz Elegies

This Memorial Day weekend Night Lights pays tribute to departed musicians with another program of jazz elegies. "Turn Out the Stars V. III" includes musical remembrances of Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery and more.

May 22, 2009

Al Cobine: Another Indiana Jazz Legend Passes Away

Al Cobine, the Indiana bandleader, composer/arranger, and saxophonist who helped raise Bloomington's music scene to national stature, passed away Thursday at the age of 82. A native of Richmond, Indiana, he came to Bloomington in the 1950s to pursue a doctorate in political science but ended up becoming a widely renowned big-band leader instead.

May 21, 2009

NEA Announces Jazz Masters For 2010

The National Endowment for the Arts just announced their 2010 Jazz Masters recipients-and it's an impressive list.

May 15, 2009

R.I.P. Buddy Montgomery

Buddy Montgomery, the pianist/vibraphonist and last surviving member of the Montgomery Brothers, passed away this Thursday at the age of 79.

May 8, 2009

Jazz News of Note: Bill Kirchner On Richard Sudhalter And More

The week's jazz news, including Willis Conover, Creed Taylor and pianloless quartets.

May 2, 2009


Paradise Lost: the Stone Roses and the Spirit of '89

Why an English rock band seemed to matter so much in the tumultuous year of 1989.

May 2, 2009


Fab Four Jazz: The Beatles' Influence On Jazz In The 1960s

The Beatles’ explosive arrival on the American music scene in 1964 shook up the jazz world just as much as it did the rest of America—perhaps even more so.

April 26, 2009

Jazz News Of Note

DIY jazz blogging: Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus invites you to give it a try.

April 18, 2009


David Young's Quiet Strength

David Young was an unsung hero of the same Indianapolis scene that gave the world Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, and Wes Montgomery-a musician who began to gain the spotlight in New York City at the dawn of the 1960s and then walked away from it.

April 11, 2009


After The Vanguard: The Return Of Bill Evans

In the summer of 1961 pianist Bill Evans hit a new creative peak with his trio. Then the trio's gifted bassist, Scott LaFaro, died in a car wreck. What happened next?

April 7, 2009

Wax Poetics: The Jazz Issue

I often curse out loud when I pick up a new issue at my local record store. The editors have a knack for choosing artists whom I find irresistible.

April 4, 2009


Trane '57: John Coltrane's Pivotal Year In Jazz

1957 has become Year Zero in the John Coltrane legend, a key turning point for the tenor saxophonist, then 30 and still in the throes of a debilitating drug addiction that had led Miles Davis to twice boot Coltrane out of his group.

April 1, 2009

Jump For Joy! Ellington Big Band Mosaic Still In The Works

A friend writes to pass along the good news: Mosaic Records is still planning on doing a 1930s Duke Ellington Columbia big-band set.

March 30, 2009

Night Lights Debuts On KFSR: Fresno, California

Night Lights debuts on KFSR this week. KFSR is the first California station to carry Night Lights.

March 24, 2009

David Young On WFIU's Artworks

Currently in the works? A Night Lights program about David Young, the Indianapolis-based tenor saxophonist who passed away in February.

March 21, 2009

Nellie Lutcher's Real Gone Rhythm

This week on Night Lights we pay tribute to the pianist and singer who passed away in 2007 at the age of 94. A product of the thriving mid-20th century Central Avenue Los Angeles scene, in the late 1940s Lutcher scored a series of hits such as “Hurry On Down” and “Fine Brown Frame” that blended jazz, pop, blues and R & B in a way that made her one of the era’s first crossover stars.

March 10, 2009

Blue Note to Release 1969 Freddie Hubbard Concert

The April 2009 Downbeat features a cover story on the late trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, featuring reflections from numerous friends and musical colleagues such as James Spaulding, David Weiss, Cedar Walton, and David Baker. Near the end of the article writer Dan Ouellette mentions that Blue Note Records is preparing a springtime CD release of a 1969 Hubbard concert, titled Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969.

February 25, 2009

A Strange and Bitter Crop: Billie Holiday's Song of the Century

When Harry Smith, creator of The Anthology of American Folk Music and dean of American bohemians, received a Grammy just a few months before his death in 1991, he said, "I'm glad to say that my dreams came true-that I saw America changed through music." In the book Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights, David Margolick proposes that racism-a bedrock element of Americanism-was challenged and ultimately changed by a single song, a song sung by Holiday titled "Strange Fruit."

February 24, 2009

Jazz News of Note

Ashley Kahn, author of previous books about the landmark jazz albums Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme, has a new one coming out on the history of Blue Note Records.

February 14, 2009


Dearly Beloved: Husband-And-Wife Teams In Jazz

Long-term love and art go hand-in-hand on this edition of Night Lights, where we're focusing on couplings both romantic and musical.

February 7, 2009

R. I. P., Tenor Saxophonist David Young

A tribute to an unsung hero of the Indiana Avenue jazz scene.

January 27, 2009

"Keepnews Collection" Is Kaput

Concord engineer Joe Tarantino reportedly says that the label's "Keepnews Collection" reissue series is being cancelled, due to poor sales. The series featured new editions of classic jazz albums such as Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite, Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar, and Thelonious Monk's Brilliant Corners, all remastered by Tarantino, with updated liner notes by longtime, legendary jazz producer Orrin Keepnews. I've picked up only a couple of the titles-George Russell's Ezz-thetics (comes with extra tracks, plus it's one of the best records from the Russell-David Baker collaborations), Bill Evans' Portrait in Jazz (I love this one so much that I felt compelled to "upgrade" from my old OJC copy)-partly because I already have just about everything Concord has reissued in the series.

January 24, 2009


The Benny Golson Songbook

"The Benny Golson Songbook" features recordings of Golson's work from the late 1950s and early 1960s by Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, and Golson himself, including several recordings made by his and Art Farmer's group the Jazztet

January 21, 2009

David Fathead Newman Has Gone

Saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, whose blend of jazz and inimitable Lone Star soul made him an integral part of Ray Charles' orchestra and served him through dozens of impressive leader dates, passed away from pancreatic cancer yesterday at the age of 75

January 20, 2009

The Pepsi "My Generation" Ad

The first song I ever heard by the Who was its anthemic anticipation of punk, "My Generation." It was already an oldie when it juiced up my twelve-year-old spirit; in fact, punk had only recently arrived, and one of the reasons I liked the Who song so much was that its energy seemed similar to two bands of the moment for me, the Ramones and the...

January 12, 2009

Richard Sudhalter: a Brief Remembrance

Jazz historian Richard Sudhalter passed away last year at the age of 69, having spent the last several years of his life fighting significant health challenges. This Monday evening there will be a memorial concert in his honor at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, with an all-star lineup of musicians and spoken tributes from jazz writers Dan Morgenstern, Terry Teachout, and others. Sudhalter left behind three important biographies and studies: Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contributions to Jazz, 1915-1945, Stardust Melody: the Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael, and Bix, Man and Legend (co-author with Phil Evans).

January 11, 2009

Reissues and Historical Releases: Best of 2008

2008: not a good year for the economy, certain politicians, or the Detroit Lions. In the realm of reissues and historical releases, however, it was a surprisingly good year. A highly subjective and belated list follows, presented in alphabetical order:

January 6, 2009

Blue Note Records on NPR's Talk of the Nation

Bruce Lundvall, president of the Blue Note Label Group, and Michael Cuscuna, co-founder of reissue label Mosaic Records, were both on NPR's Talk of the Nation today, discussing the history, present, and future of the iconic Blue Note Records imprint. They also took some phone calls from jazz fans who reminisced about the musical and cultural impact of their favorite "Blue Note moments."

January 3, 2009


1959: Jazz's Vintage Year

1959 saw an unprecedented spate of jazz masterpieces. Among the albums released or recorded that year were Miles Davis' modal-hip Kind of Blue, Dave Brubeck's blockbuster Time Out, John Coltrane's leap forward Giant Steps, Ornette Coleman's avant-garde salvo The Shape of Jazz to Come, and Charles Mingus' revolutionary-in-the-tradition Mingus Ah Um.

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