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Recent Shows

Suite History: Jazz Composers And The African-American Odyssey

Early Charles Mingus Debut record

Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson, John Carter, and Wynton Marsalis all undertook a weighty artistic task-to represent the historical journey of African-Americans in music. Historian Michael McGerr joins the program as we play music from all four composers' extended works and talk about their place in jazz history.

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The Teacher: Billy Taylor

Billy Taylor jazz pianist

Billy Taylor was a jazz pianist, educator, broadcaster, composer of a civil rights anthem, and the man who dubbed jazz “America’s classical music.”

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Jazz Mission: Mel Powell In The 1940s

Mel Powell was still a teenager when he joined one of America’s most popular big bands on the cusp of World War II, launching a brief but notable jazz career as a pianist, composer and arranger, before going on to devote most of his life to classical music.

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Four And More: The Year In Jazz, 1964

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.

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Portrait of J.J.: A Brief History of J.J. Johnson

J.J. Johnson

Trombonist J.J. Johnson was a bebop pioneer on his instrument, a leader of many outstanding small-group hardbop dates, and a notable composer as well whose works sometimes ventured into the Third Stream meeting ground of classical and jazz.

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It's Time! Max Roach In The 1960s

Max Roach It's Time

Exploring the convergence of jazz and the civil-rights movement in Max Roach's career during a turbulent decade.

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The Music That Nobody Knows: The From Spirituals To Swing Concerts

Max Roach It's Time

At the end of the 1930s jazz impresario John Hammond organized two concerts that showcased African-American music in a prestigious New York City concert hall.

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

Max Roach It's Time

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.

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Night Lights Blog

A Family Tribute To Janiece Jaffe

Janiece Jaffe

Two of the late singer's children stopped by WFIU to discuss their mother's life and music.

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A Tribute To Janiece Jaffe 1958-2022

Janiece Jaffe

A musical and conversational remembrance of Bloomington singer Janiece Jaffe, who passed away on November 23, 2022 at 64. Jaffe friends and collaborators Dave Bruker, Peter Lerner, and David Miller discuss her life and legacy, and we hear some of Jaffe's concert and studio recordings as well.

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Anon, Anon: Michael Bourne, 1946-2022

Michael Bourne

Michael Bourne became a global name in the jazz community after starting his on-air job at WBGO-Newark at the end of 1984. This tribute celebrates his beginnings at WFIU-Bloomington, Indiana in the 1970s and early 80s, with remembrances from friends and fans, interview excerpts, and a rollicking 1976 performance at Bloomington's Bluebird nightclub with Michael on lead vocals.

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My Interview With Duke Ellington

Open Ended Interview promo record

... OK, that should be "interview." A virtual conversation, using a very analog-era practice, in which I chat with the Duke about his work on the film score for ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

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Best Historical Releases 2021

John Coltrane A Love Supreme Live In Seattle

Night Lights' annual roundup of notable archival releases and reissues.

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A Tribute To Dominic Spera

Dominic Spera

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.

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

Brilliant Corners Summer 2020

"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.

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