Steve Allen is remembered today as the founder of “The Tonight Show” and a lasting influence on late-night television. But he was also an important advocate for jazz in the 1950s.
Night Lights' annual roundup of notable archival releases and reissues.
Swinging seasonal jazz for your holiday from Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Babs Gonzales, Anita O'Day, and other cool characters from the history of jazz.
One of the 20th century's most iconic performers crossed musical paths with artists such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Waldron wrote several hundred pieces of music in the late 1950s and early 60s, many of them recorded by the jazz scene's top musicians.
In the history of jazz, there are only a few innovators who’ve actually changed the sound of their instrument. Jaco Pastorius was one of them.
An anthology that helped to elevate the artistic stature of jazz.
In 1945, as World War II wound down in Europe and the U.S. ramped up for an invasion of Japan, Duke Ellington undertook a weekly broadcast on behalf of the war effort, playing music and encouraging civilians to buy war bonds.
Exploring the life and music of an unheralded pianist and composer from the hardbop era.
Though he recorded with organists Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith, when saxophonist Percy France died in 1992 he was primarily known and admired among a small circle of his fellow New York City jazz musicians. Now a new website aims to elevate his soulful tenor sound and story.
Indiana University jazz studies head Tom Walsh and vocalists Rachel Caswell and Janiece Jaffe joined David Brent Johnson on WFIU's "Just You And Me" to discuss Dominic Spera, the trumpeter and former IU jazz educator who passed away on Saturday, October 23 at the age of 89. Spera's music is featured as well.
Night Lights in the key of screeeech: stalking monsters, roadweary Draculas, and the true tale of the jazz-loving New Orleans Mysterious Axman are all part of this week's Halloween celebration.
Wynton Marsalis is respected and scorned as jazz's most prominent spokesperson, but at the dawn of his career he was seen simply as a brilliant young trumpeter.
Throughout the 1950s jazz promoter George Wein ran a Boston nightclub that showcased some of the music’s most notable performers.
Chico Hamilton had gained fame with a 1950s quintet often defined as “chamber jazz,” but at the dawn of the 1960s he began to head in a new artistic direction.
Jazz is usually thought of as an album format, but once upon a time you could drop a coin into a slot and fill up a bar or restaurant with the sounds of artists such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Horace Silver spinning off a three-minute-long machine-operated platter.
Major Glenn Miller went missing over the English Channel in December 1944. For decades afterwards, much of his wartime orchestra's music went missing as well.
Twelve recordings that define one of the 20th century's greatest musicians, as we celebrate the Charlie Parker centennial on Night Lights.
A small Bowery bar where John Coltrane came into his own with Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman stunned the jazz world with his quartet, and writers, painters, musicians and others formed an at-home underground community. Former Five Spot regulars David Amram and author Dan Wakefield join us.
Pianist Lennie Tristano was a singular and charismatic modernist and mentor whose methods helped point the way for the rise of jazz education.
From the beginning of the 1930s to the mid-1940s, Louis Armstrong built on his early jazz mastery to become one of the most popular African-American entertainers in the world.
Listening to the Savory set is like dial-hopping on a swing-age radio,
Billy Taylor was a jazz pianist, educator, broadcaster, composer of a civil rights anthem, and the man who dubbed jazz “America’s classical music.”
Mary Osborne started out as a little girl playing violin and guitar on the radio in Depression-era Minot, North Dakota, and listening to jazz broadcasts coming far across the prairie to her from Chicago…then one night she went to a club and heard Charlie Christian play, and her path as a muscian was set.
Sonny Clark was a young pianist with an already-impressive jazz legacy when he began a year-long string of classic hardbop recordings that ended suddenly with his death at the age of 31.
A centennial celebration of the American maestro's relationship with jazz.
Though it received middling reviews, the 1963 concert series included the festival debuts of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, the rollout of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Dizzy For President” campaign, one of jazz legend Jack Teagarden’s last appearances, and a tribute from the Modern Jazz Quartet to Martin Luther King Jr.
How a photographer captured a creative corner of mid-20th-century American culture in images and in sound.
In the early 1950s drummer Shelly Manne settled in California and began a remarkable run of recordings that included experimental jazz, popular interpretations of Broadway scores, music for the TV crime show Peter Gunn, one of avant-garde icon Ornette Coleman’s first albums, and charged live performances at San Francisco’s Black Hawk club.
In the mid-1960s pianist Ahmad Jamal returned to the music scene after a three-year hiatus and formed a new trio that would eventually make an album now considered to be a jazz piano masterpiece.
The latest entry in Night Lights' ongoing series of jazz elegies, with an emphasis this time on recordings from the 1970s and 80s by Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Pat Metheny and others.
From 1949 to 1954 Artie Shaw made a number of big-band, small-group, and even classical recordings that form one of the most dynamic chapters of his career-and the concluding one as well.
As television rocketed into the entertainment culture of mid-20th-century America, musicians and composers, many of them with jazz backgrounds, were called upon to write themes and cues for the wide variety of programs that populated the airwaves.
Veteran producer and radio host Bob Porter, who passed away in April at the age of 80, joined Night Lights several years ago to talk about his book on one of jazz's most popular styles.
In the late 1960s an aging Duke Ellington faced a changing musical landscape and the loss of his longtime writing partner, Billy Strayhorn. How did he respond?
In 1958 trumpeter Miles Davis brought a new pianist named Bill Evans into his sextet who stayed only a few months, but whose influence helped spark one of the most artistically notable and commercially successful albums in the history of jazz.
Jazzing Broadway songs, scoring movies, conducting classical music: Andre Previn could do it all before he'd even turned 30.
From Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" to John Coltrane's A LOVE SUPREME, from the impact of the Beatles to the avant-garde's October revolution, a notable year.
At the dawn of the 1960s pianist Freddie Redd made several albums for the Blue Note label filled with taut, punchy hardbop compositions.
Drummer Roy Haynes' career reads like a roll-call of jazz history. Hear him with Lester Young, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and others.
A renowned female organist, Scott recorded a number of soul-jazz classics in the late 1950s and 1960s.
In the 1960s Corea made a name for himself playing with hardbop and straightahead jazz artists such as Blue Mitchell, Stan Getz, and Donald Byrd, and recording a stunning trio date, before going on to work with Miles Davis’ revolutionary electric ensembles.
The singing icon was also a master pianist whose rhythms and harmonic language made him an influential jazz modernist.
In 1963 saxophonist John Coltrane made a jazz-vocal masterpiece with Johnny Hartman as well as another album only recently discovered, met a woman who would become his wife and musical partner, and dealt with the temporary loss of his favorite drummer.
He could split the stratosphere with his high notes… play you sweet and low with his ballads… glide with sudden speed through the middle registers and then slow into a cooking groove…and woe to any other trumpeter who showed up ready to jam.
Pittsburgh has produced many great jazz artists, and at the beginning of the 1960s two of them teamed up to make a notable series of albums for the Blue Note label.
This sequel to a previous program of jazz salutes to the civil-rights icon includes music from Bobby Hutcherson, Max Roach, and Herbie Hancock.