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Archive for Night Lights Classic Jazz

December 28, 2020


Swingers: Hugh Hefner, Playboy Magazine, And Jazz

In 1953 a young entrepreneur started a magazine that would help bring about the sexual revolution in America—and he was also a passionate jazz fan who used that magazine to help promote the music he loved.

December 21, 2020


Have Yourself a Very Quiet Christmas

Night Lights pays tribute to the holidays in the mellowest of moods.

December 16, 2020


Conover's Coming Over: Willis Conover And Jazz At The VOA

Working for decades as a broadcaster for the Voice of America, Conover was perhaps the most influential and widely-heard jazz DJ of the 20th century. He brought the music into eastern Europe and other areas of the world where jazz was either repressed or commercially unavailable.

December 9, 2020


Rookie Of The Year: Curtis Fuller '57

Six albums as a leader. Sideman appearances with John Coltrane, Bud Powell, and Jimmy Smith. The story of trombonist Curtis Fuller's first year on record.

December 2, 2020


Jazz Impressions Of Brubeck

In the 1950s and 60s the Dave Brubeck Quartet became one of the most popular jazz acts in the world--one of the reasons why the group ended up doing a State Department tour in 1958 at the height of the Cold War that took them to countries such as India, Poland, and Iraq.

November 25, 2020

Louis Armstrong at the movies

Satchmo, Take Two: Louis Armstrong At The Movies

Louis Armstrong was a legendary innovative trumpeter, a vocalist who had a profound impact on jazz singing, and a dynamic entertainer--and he got a chance to showcase all these aspects of his talent in 28 full-length films and several short features in which he appeared between 1931 and 1969.

November 18, 2020

Paul Motian album cover

ECM: Birth Of A Label

In 1969 the 26-year-old German musician Manfred Eicher began what would become one of the world’s longest-running and most influential jazz labels, with a signature production approach that emphasized space and a roster of artists that included Keith Jarrett, Paul Motian, Chick Corea, and Gary Burton. 

November 11, 2020


Charles McPherson's Post-Bird Bop

Alto saxophonist Charles McPherson spent much of his early career under the spell of jazz great Charlie Parker--but he fired the Parker sound with his own intense energy and expressive skills.

November 4, 2020


The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby

Ashby turned the harp into a swinging and dynamic instrument for jazz.

October 28, 2020


Nica's Tempo: More Hipsters, Flipsters, And On-The-Scenesters

Pannonica de Koenigswarter, aka Nica or “The Jazz Baroness,” was a friend to Thelonious Monk and other jazz artists and inspired a slew of musical tributes.

October 21, 2020

Hazel Scott Relaxed Piano Moods

To Be Somebody: Hazel Scott

Pianist Hazel Scott was a prodigy who rose to fame in the 1940s, swinging classical compositions, appearing in Hollywood movies, and becoming the first African-American to host a TV show.

October 14, 2020


The Last: Final Recordings Of Jazz Greats

In the final months of their lives, jazz artists have sometimes made recordings of great power and poignancy. This edition of Night Lights features music from Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Clifford Brown, Stan Getz and more.

October 7, 2020

Sounds Of Yusef Lateef LP

The Jazz Message Of Yusef Lateef: The 1950s

The first of a two-part centennial tribute to a musician who helped broaden the sound of modern jazz.

October 1, 2020


One More You Wrote Through Us: Horace Tapscott

Jazz historian Steven Isoardi joins us for the story of how pianist Horace Tapscott turned down a chance to have a high-profile career and instead became a community-arts activist and leader in late-20th-century Los Angeles.

September 9, 2020


Boppin' On Bee Hive

Bee Hive annotator Aaron Cohen joins us to discuss the legacy of a 1970s/early 80s Chicago record label that spotlighted veteran bebop and hardbop artists.

September 3, 2020


Rollins '57: Sonny Rollins Takes The Lead

In 1957 tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins was at the peak of his first great period, playing with a confident, swinging, and radical abandon both as a leader and with Max Roach and Miles Davis.

August 19, 2020


Big Band Bird: Charlie Parker With The Big Bands

We think of Charlie Parker as a small-group bebop saxophonist, but he came out of the swing era. What did he sound like in a big-band setting?

August 4, 2020


The Big Bands' Little Bands

The swing era may have been the age of the big bands, but bandleaders often found it worth their while to break small groups out of their larger orchestras.

July 29, 2020

Art Blakey Straight Ahead

Late Art: Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers In The 1980s

In the last decade of his life Art Blakey continued to mentor new talent in his Jazz Messengers group, helping to elevate musicians such as Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, and Mulgrew Miller.

July 24, 2020


Electrifying: Charlie Christian

Christian laid the foundation for the guitar as a significant modern-jazz instrument, creating single-note lines and solos that swung with imagination and vitality.

July 14, 2020


After The All-Stars: Live At The Lighthouse 1960-1972

In the 1960s a beacon of West Coast jazz became a destination for hardbop and soul-jazz acts.

June 16, 2020


The Juneteenth Jazz Jamboree

Juneteenth, the African-American holiday celebrating the end of slavery, has a long tradition of food, games, music and prayer. Our jazz tribute includes musical tributes to freedom from Duke Ellington, Max Roach, Carmen McRae, and John Coltrane, as well as Louis Jordan's homage to the holiday itself, and some odes to African-American athletes.

June 4, 2020

Woody Herman Decca Mars MGM Mosaic

Woody Herman's Trip To Mars

The music that bandleader Woody Herman recorded in the 1940s and early 50s for several labels, including his own Mars imprint, has been unavailable for decades. Now a recent set from Mosaic Records gives us a chance to hear some lesser-known editions of the clarinetist’s mid-20th century ensembles.

May 26, 2020


Miles Between: Miles Davis 1961-1963

As the 1960s began Miles Davis entered a period of transition, first trying to find a saxophonist to replace John Coltrane and then a new rhythm section.

May 11, 2020


From Naptown To Paris: Wes Montgomery Live

Five decades after Wes Montgomery's death in 1968, newly-discovered live recordings continue to emerge.

May 6, 2020


The Ornette Coleman Songbook

Ornette Coleman's music shook up a generation of jazz artists, but some of them almost immediately began to play it.

April 16, 2020


Lee Konitz: the Verve Years

Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who died on April 15, 2020 at age 92, was a longtime master of melodic improvisation who played a part in some of jazz's most momentous acts--the Claude Thornhill big band and the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool nonet in the late 1940s, and the Lennie Tristano groups of the 1950s and early 1960s.

April 13, 2020

Paul Motian album cover

The Swingin' Jezebel: Anita O'Day In The 1940s

In the 1940s the young singer Anita O’Day became a sensation on the big-band scene, performing one of jazz’s first racially-integrated duets and courting what would become a lifelong reputation as an independent spirit

April 9, 2020

Brilliant Corners Summer 2020

"Thomas Merton Experiments with Meditations on Jazz": A Poem And A Night Lights Program

"The great chain of witnesses": a poem by Betsy Sholl in the new issue of Brilliant Corners drew its inspiration in part from a Night Lights show.

April 6, 2020


Maiden Voyage: Herbie Hancock In The 1960s

In the 1960s Herbie Hancock seemed to be everywhere on the jazz scene, recording both as a leader for Blue Note and as a sideman with Miles Davis and others.

March 30, 2020

Babs Gonzales

How Professor Bop Paid His Dues: Babs Gonzales

Babs Gonzales was the toastmaster of the bebop world, a vocalese hipster who made the scene and lived to sing and write about it.

March 24, 2020


Ella '57: Ella Fitzgerald Flies High

In 1957 singer Ella Fitzgerald recorded close to one hundred tracks as her career continued to soar in the wake of signing with Norman Granz’s Verve label.

March 16, 2020


Late Lady: Billie Holiday On Verve In The 1950s

In 1952 Billie Holiday began her last great period on record with a series of small-group sessions that capture the twilight glow of a jazz star.

March 9, 2020


Jazz Women Of The 1980s

A decade that saw female artists making further inroads into the male-dominated world of jazz.

March 2, 2020


Jazzing The Cool With Ted Gioia

Keep it cool: jazz historian Ted Gioia joins us for the music and meaning of Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bix Beiderbecke, Miles Davis and more.

February 27, 2020

Alice Coltrane Universal Consciousness

Detroit Jazz Artists On Night Lights

Explore some of the notable musicians who emerged from the 20th century Detroit jazz scene.

February 25, 2020

Geri Allen

Made In Detroit: Jazz From The Motor City, Part 2

From the 1960s on, Detroit continued to produce a stream of superlative jazz artists, even as the jazz scene in other major cities began to fade. Mark Stryker, author of JAZZ FROM DETROIT, joins us again to discuss how Detroit's jazz culture stayed alive.

February 17, 2020

Cover of Jazz From Detroit book

Made In Detroit: Jazz From The Motor City, Part 1

It’s a city known for the automobile industry and the soul-pop legacy of Motown Records, but Detroit is also a great jazz capital.

February 10, 2020


"The Jackie Robinson Of Television": The Nat King Cole Show

How singer and pianist Nat King Cole pushed the boundaries of 1950s segregated culture through its hottest medium.

February 3, 2020


Black, Brown And Beige: Duke Ellington's Historic Jazz Symphony

A wartime concert, a Carnegie Hall debut, an epic work celebrating black history: the story of Duke Ellington's most ambitious work.

January 21, 2020


Portrait Of Jimmy Heath: The Riverside Years

Jimmy Heath was off the jazz scene for much of the 1950s, but he returned to make a string of albums that cemented his reputation as a composer and a player.

January 13, 2020


The Big Speakeasy: Jazz And Prohibition

America in the 1920s: Wall Street was on the rise, cops were on the take, jazz was in the air, and alcohol had been banished—but it certainly hadn’t vanished.

January 8, 2020


Jazz Is Not A Noun: Don Shirley, The Extraordinary Pianist

Exploring the musical history of the "pianist of his own genre" depicted in the movie GREEN BOOK.

January 2, 2020

Stan Getz At The Village Gate 1961

Best Historical Jazz Releases Of 2019

The past year gave us notable reissues and previously-unreleased recordings from John Coltrane, Nat King Cole, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Eric Dolphy, Art Pepper and others.

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