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Recent Shows

Goin' Up: Space Age Jazz

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In the 1950s and 60s the race for space loomed large in the cultural imagination, and jazz artists such as Duke Ellington and Sun Ra picked up on the theme.

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Jazz Mission Possible: Lalo Schifrin's Early Years

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Lalo Schifrin is best known for his “Mission: Impossible” theme and numerous other film scores, but the pianist and composer first emerged from mid-20th century Argentina as a jazz artist, working with Dizzy Gillespie and recording under his own name as well.

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1968, Riot: The Year In Jazz

student activists holding signs and marching

As the 1960s neared to a close, the jazz world continued to absorb the cultural upheavals of a volatile decade.

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Jazz Of All Trades: The Eclectic Andre Previn

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Jazzing Broadway songs, scoring movies, conducting classical music: Andre Previn could do it all before he'd even turned 30.

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Jazz For Mad Men: Hits From The 1960s

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Night Lights salutes the critically-acclaimed television series MAD MEN this week with a program devoted to popular jazz from the era in which the show takes place.

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Night Lights Blog

Jazz In The Postwar French Cinema

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French culture in the postwar years was strongly influenced by both jazz and the growing American genre of film noir.

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"No Time Like Now": Music And Conversation With Vibraphonist Dick Sisto

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"Serious jazz musicians are into their music like it's a religion," says Sisto.

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A Day For Doris Day

Doris Day in 1946 at New York City’s Aquarium nightclub.

A tribute to Doris Day

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Lennie Tristano: The Jazz Guru

Doris Day in 1946 at New York City’s Aquarium nightclub.

Pianist Lennie Tristano was a singular and charismatic modernist and mentor whose methods helped point the way for the rise of jazz education.

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Playing Changes: Music And Conversation With Jazz Writer Nate Chinen

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Jazz critic Nate Chinen talks about his recent book "Playing Changes: Jazz For The New Century," and we hear music from some of the artists discussed as well.

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Read Him Madly: A Duke Ellington Bibliography

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Some Night Lights recommendations for reading about one of jazz's greatest figures, as well as some programs featuring his music.

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Heard It On The TV: Jazz Takes On Television Themes

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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.

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Mosaic Is Planning A Black and White Label Box Set

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Chronicling a West Coast record label of the 1940s.

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Michael Brecker In Late-1960s Bloomington, Indiana

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Before he became a world-renowned saxophonist, Michael Brecker attended Indiana University for a year and a half in the late 1960s. We'll hear some Brecker recordings from that period as well as commentary from jazz scholar David Demsey, who is organizing the archive of Brecker materials that was given to William Paterson University after Brecker's death in 2007.

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Four And More: The Year In Jazz, 1964

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

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

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Nat King Cole, Jazz Pianist

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The singing icon was also a master pianist whose rhythms and harmonic language made him an influential jazz modernist.

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

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

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From Naptown To Paris: Wes Montgomery Live

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

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It's About Time For Felrath Hines, Painter And Lover Of Jazz

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An interview with Rachel Berenson Perry about her new study of an often-overlooked painter.

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

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

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Duke Ellington, Andy Warhol, And Yehudi Menuhin: A 1955 TV Collaboration

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The future king of Pop Art and the maestro of American jazz: a fleeting and lighthearted intersection of their work on a summer 1955 TV variety program.

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Dolphy '63

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Often described by his peers as a "saint," Dolphy was a multi-instrumentalist and musical seeker whose legacy rests on recordings made in the last four years of his life.

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Joni + Jazz: Joni Mitchell

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Joni Mitchell is well-known as the writer of radio hits such as “Both Sides Now” and “Help Me”, but she also formed connections with the jazz world, especially in the 1970s.

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2018

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A newly-discovered album by John Coltrane, a treasure trove of late-1930s radio broadcasts, a trumpeter’s ground-breaking 1960s big band, and one of early jazz’s hottest groups are just some of the recordings you’ll hear as the year draws to a close on Night Lights.

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Tyner Time: McCoy Tyner's Blue Note Years

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At the end of 1965 pianist McCoy Tyner left John Coltrane’s group and struck out on his own, eventually recording a series of albums for the Blue Note label that began the extension of his jazz legacy beyond the Coltrane quartet.

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Jazz Scene San Francisco

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Long before it was a center of the psychedelic counterculture and its attendant rock groups, San Francisco was a West Coast haven for the development of jazz.

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The Music Makers Of Gennett Records: Todd Gould Talks About His New Film

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A conversation with the producer, director and writer of a new documentary about an Indiana record label that helped shape the sound of modern American music.

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Q Is For Jazz: Quincy Jones

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One of the most successful producers in the history of commercial music began as a jazz artist.

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Jazz Women Of The 1990s

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We’ll hear some of the artists such as Cassandra Wilson, Maria Schneider, Renee Rosnes, and Diana Krall who rose to prominence during the decade, as well as a trio of veterans who enjoyed a late-career renaissance, including Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, and Betty Carter.

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Trane '63: A Classic, A Challenge, A Change

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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.

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Mob-Lee: Lee Morgan And Hank Mobley

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Mobley’s so-called “round sound” and Morgan’s kinetic attack made for a dynamic combination on the dozen-and-a-half studio and live sessions where they appear together.

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Jazz Side Story: Jazz And Leonard Bernstein

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A centennial celebration of the American maestro's relationship with jazz.

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Savoring The Savory Collection

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Listening to the Savory set is like dial-hopping on a swing-age radio,

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Put On Earth To Play Drums: The Buddy Rich Story

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Rich on record: the legendary drummer's career as sideman, bandleader, and even singer, featuring his own commentary.

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One For Marian: Marian McPartland

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Marian McPartland was a jazz pianist, writer, educator, and radio host whose improvisatory talents and musical empathy made her one of the most engaging and enlightening jazz artists of her time.

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A Conversation With Ken Vandermark

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Of 7-11s and cassette tapes: one of the world's most renowned improvisational-jazz artists on dedication, the value of art, and a life-changing encounter.

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New Vibes: Gary Burton In The 1960s

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A look at the productive and creatively diverse first decade of an NEA Jazz Master's career.

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2017

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Jazz blasts from the past, newly-discovered, rarely-heard, and reissued.

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Mosaic Records To Release Six-CD Set Of Savory Recordings

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Sing Hallelujah! Some of the 1930s and 40s jazz broadcasts captured by engineer Bill Savory will finally see a release in a physical format.

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Music In All Things: W. Eugene Smith And The Jazz Loft

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How a photographer captured a creative corner of mid-20th-century American culture in images and in sound.

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Diggin' Diz: A Musical Portrait Of Dizzy Gillespie In The 1940s

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Celebrating the early years of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in honor of his centennial.

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Caravan: Martial Solal, The Early Years

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"To French listeners and writers of the 1950s and 60s… Solal’s power was spectacular." Surveying the arrival of a modern jazz piano giant.

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The Greatest Bass Player In The World: Jaco Pastorius

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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.

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Teddy Wilson Set Coming From Mosaic Records, Plus A Mosaic Update

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Details about Mosaic's new set devoted to the swing-era pianist, plus Mosaic's Scott Wenzel on the label's state of health.

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Electrifying: Charlie Christian

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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.

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Our Delight: The Music Of Tadd Dameron

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Exploring the life and compositions of "the architect of bop."

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

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

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Night Lights For Memorial Day

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Jazz elegies, Glenn Miller's Army Air Force orchestra, Duke Ellington's Treasury broadcasts, and more.

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Turn Out The Stars: Volume 5

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Another volume of jazz elegies in honor of jazz artists who have passed on, including tributes to Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Noone, Johnny Hodges, and others.

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Final Miles: Miles Davis On Warner Brothers

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In 1986 Miles Davis began what would prove to be his final run of recordings, working with new collaborators and making some surprising sideman appearances.

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Bob Porter's Portraits In Soul Jazz

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Veteran producer and radio host Bob Porter joins Night Lights to talk about his book on one of jazz's most popular styles.

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Ellington Ending: Duke Ellington 1967-73

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n 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?

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The Jazz Monk: Thomas Merton

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Thomas Merton was one of the most influential spiritual writers of the 20th century-and he was also a passionate jazz fan.

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The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby

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

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

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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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Boppin' On Savoy: Bebop And Savoy Records In The Late 1940s

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On fire in the late Forties: one label's contribution to a sea-change in jazz.

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Night Lights For MLK Day: Jazz And More

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Some programs and articles posted in honor of the civil-rights icon.

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Take Five X 18: Writings On Jazz For NPR's A Blog Supreme

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Looking back at NPR's "jazz in five recordings" series.

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2016

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Night Lights' annual, highly-subjective survey of reissues and previously unreleased recordings.

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A Night Lights Wonderland

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Climb aboard the Night Lights jazz sleigh for a burst of holiday tidings from Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans and others as we celebrate the season.

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Bud's Buds: Barry Harris And Toshiko Akiyoshi

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In 1929 two future jazz piano greats were born thousands of miles but just days apart. Both would go on to develop their art under the influence of Bud Powell.

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Bebop Comes To Europe

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Continental bop: in the years following the end of World War II, European jazz lovers embraced the new music coming from America.

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Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band

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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.

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Jazz Women Of The 1980s

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

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Norman Granz's Jazz Scene

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An anthology that helped to elevate the artistic stature of jazz.

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Trane '62: The Classic Coltrane Quartet Begins

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In 1962 John Coltrane collaborated with Duke Ellington, recorded an all-ballads LP, and established the group now known as the Classic Quartet.

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Postwar Prez: Lester Young 1945-1950

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In 1945 Lester Young emerged at the age of 36 from a traumatic time in the Army to renew his career as one of jazz’s most influential and loved saxophonists.

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Songs Of Themselves: Jazz Autobiographies

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At the intersection of performance, narrative, and remembrance: some notable jazz stories told by the musicians themselves.

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Soul Eyes: The Early Mal Waldron Songbook

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Waldron wrote several hundred pieces of music in the late 1950s and early 60s, recorded by the jazz scene's top musicians.

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Swingers: Hugh Hefner, Playboy Magazine, And Jazz

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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.

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Mosaic Records Is Releasing A Savoy Bebop Set

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Coming soon: a ten-disc set of classic late-1940s bebop.

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Snap, Crackle And Swing: Young Roy Haynes

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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.

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Jazz His Way: Frank Sinatra

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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.

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Ella '57: Ella Fitzgerald Flies High

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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.

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Jazz, Spiritually Speaking

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Rooted in Christianity and African musical tradition, spirituals reflected life for slaves in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. They were often improvisations upon older hymns that became entirely new songs, and in some ways they foreshadow the birth of American jazz.

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Talk About The Pageant: When R.E.M. Came To Bloomington In 1986

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In the spring of 1986, the reigning kings of college-rock came to the university town of Bloomington, Indiana to record their fourth album.

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Women In Jazz: A Bibliography

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Biographies, historical overviews, gender-studies perspectives: a list of books that delve into the story of women jazz artists.

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Ready For Freddie Redd

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At the dawn of the 1960s pianist Freddie Redd made several albums for the Blue Note label filled with taut, punchy hardbop compositions.

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Portraits In Black: Jazz Tributes To African-American Heroes

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Jazz salutes in song to African-American actors, athletes, and artists.

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The Vee-Jay Jazz Story

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In 1953 a Gary, Indiana couple started what would become one of the most successful black-owned record labels, highlighting gospel, blues, R and B, and jazz.

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A Portrait Of Hod O'Brien

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The musical times and tales of jazz-piano veteran Hod O'Brien, who passed away on November 20, 2016 at the age of 80.

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Hope Lives: A Portrait Of Elmo Hope

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Exploring the life and music of an unheralded pianist and composer from the hardbop era.

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Hipsters, Flipsters, And On-The-Scenesters

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Kickin' the gong around with Minnie, McVouty, Freddie, and other assorted jazz characters.

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2015: The Year The Seventies Broke

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A bitchin' brew of hardbop, fusion, vocal, and hot-swinging jazz.

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Boppin' On Bee Hive

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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.

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1962: Cool In Crisis

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A saxophone giant returned to the scene and a swing-era icon toured the Soviet Union. Bossa nova was on the rise, and so was the avant-garde.

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Jazz From Storyville

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Throughout the 1950s jazz promoter George Wein ran a Boston nightclub that showcased some of the music’s most notable performers.

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Portrait Of Jimmy Heath: The Riverside Years

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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.

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Jazz Haunts For Halloween: Ghostly Songs And Mysterious Ends

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Smoke dreams, sorcerers, stalking monsters, and strange exits: paranormal jazz encounters on this edition of Night Lights.

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Return To Xanadu: Rebirth Of A Label

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In the 1970s Xanadu Records chronicled bebop and hardbop musicians who had become overshadowed by the bright, loud light of fusion. Now the label's LPs are back.

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Mosaic Is Releasing A James P. Johnson Set

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The set will chronicle Johnson's career on record from the early years of the Harlem Renaissance to the World War II era.

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First Fusion: Jazz-Rock Before Bitches Brew

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In the late 1960s, young musicians such as The Free Spirits, the Fourth Way, and other now-forgotten fusioneers made the first attempts to blend jazz with rock.

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Crossing The Bridge: The Return Of Sonny Rollins

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In 1961 saxophonist Sonny Rollins returned from a two-year sabbatical, forming new musical alliances as he plunged into a shifting and vibrant jazz landscape.

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Jazz a la Sauter: Eddie Sauter

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Sauter's innovative and challenging arrangements gave the big-band sound an artistic sophistication that anticipated the rise of the Third Stream.

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After Brubeck: Paul Desmond In The 1970s

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At the end of 1967 one of the most popular groups in jazz, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, disbanded. What did its star alto saxophonist Paul Desmond do next? Desmond biographer Doug Ramsey joins us to discuss the musician's last decade.

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Maiden Voyage: Herbie Hancock In The 1960s

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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.

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Late Lady: Billie Holiday On Verve In The 1950s

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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.

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Mosaic Records To Release Mother Of All Lester Young Box Sets

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The most comprehensive portrait of Lester Young in his prime that's ever been assembled.

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Swing It Loud: Duke Ellington's Early Black-Pride Music

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Long before the rise of the black-pride movement in the 1960s, Ellington was writing music that celebrated African-American culture, personalities, and history.

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1957, Four Portraits In Jazz: Blakey, Coltrane, Fuller, Rollins

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A prolific and diverse year for Art Blakey; a turnaround for John Coltrane; continuing momentum for Sonny Rollins; and an astonishing debut for Curtis Fuller.

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Jazz Her Way: Nancy Wilson In The 1960s

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Wilson's records blended big-band and small-group elements with pop orchestration and doses of soul that could be both big-city hip and suburban cool.

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The Great Columbia Jazz Purge: Coleman, Evans, Jarrett, And Mingus

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In 1971 Columbia Records signed four of modern jazz's greatest artists. Within two years all four were gone. What happened?

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Rookie Of The Year: Curtis Fuller '57

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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.

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Nina Lives! The Nina Simone Renaissance

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Links from past to present: signs of the Nina Simone revival.

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Proving Herself: Melba Liston, Arranger And First Lady Of Trombone

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Liston was a trailblazer for women in 20th century jazz, a master trombonist and arranger who forged partnerships with some of the music's most key figures.

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Miles Between: Miles Davis 1961-1963

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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.

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Birth: Early Keith Jarrett

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Jarrett's early solos, one critic said, "contain in them the entire history of jazz piano."

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Jazz Capitals Of America: A Bibliography

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Books about the urban centers of 20th century America that played host to vital proving grounds for generations of jazz artists.

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2014

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Night Lights' annual, highly-subjective look back at the year's historical jazz releases.

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The Scene Changes: The Life And Music Of Bud Powell, Part 2

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Struggle, rebirth, and return: Bud Powell biographer Peter Pullman joins us again as we chronicle the final years of pianist Bud Powell.

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Time Flies: The Life And Music Of Bud Powell, Part 1

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In the mid-1940s Bud Powell emerged as the leading pianist of the bebop movement, astonishing listeners and his fellow musicians with dazzling, high-speed improvisations of rhythmic and harmonic ingenuity. The personal troubles that would dog him throughout his career were emerging as well.

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Night Lights, Big City: Night Lights Debuts On WBGO This Week

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Beginning this week, Night Lights can be heard on WBGO, the Newark-based, world-renowned station that programs jazz 24 hours a day for the New York City area and beyond.

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Ramblin' Man: Charlie Haden

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A tribute to the late bassist, whose career encompassed the avant-garde, spirituals, noir movie themes, pastoral ballads, and straightahead jazz.

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The Durable Kenny Dorham

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The career of a talented and perennially-unsung trumpeter.

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Big Band Bird: Charlie Parker With The Big Bands

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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?

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Now Hear This: Duke Pearson's Big Band

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Pearson's ensemble was part of a late-1960s big-band renaissance in New York City.

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The Thad Jones Songbook

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"He writes the unexpected," Mel Lewis once said of his orchestral co-leader Thad Jones.

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To Dig Or Not To Dig: Jazz And Hip With Phil Ford

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You can say it’s an attitude, or an unspoken sense of aesthetic right and wrong, or a way of life… but whatever it is, the notion of hip has been at the heart of American counterculture since the 1940s, and it’s often included jazz as part of its soundtrack.

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At The Jazz Corner Of The World: Live From Birdland

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Birdland was known as “the jazz corner of the world,” and from 1949 to 1965 it played host to some of the greatest names on the modern jazz scene.

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Suite History, Part 2: Michael McGerr On Black History And Jazz

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More of the full-length Night Lights interview with historian Michael McGerr about extended jazz works that depict the history of black America.

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Suite History, Part 1: Michael McGerr on Duke Ellington

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Historian Michael McGerr discusses Ellington's musical portrayals of the African-American experience.

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Night Lights Debuts This Week On WDCB-Chicago

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Night Lights will begin airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. CST on Chicago's primary jazz station.

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

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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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1963: A Man's Dream, A Nation's Nightmare

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It was a year of raised hopes and devastating tragedy, and the world of jazz continued to reflect both the growing unease and the youthful vitality of the times.

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Late Autumn: Stan Getz, 1987-91

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Long a troubled star in the mid-20th century jazz world, at the end of his life saxophonist Stan Getz found peace and made some of his finest recordings.

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Night Lights' Theme Songs: Mary Lou Williams And Gerry Mulligan

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Shorter Lee: Lee Morgan And Wayne Shorter

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Trumpeter Lee Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter were two of the leading lights of the 1960s hardbop era.

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Jazz Goes To College

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In the 1950s jazz artists discovered a new venue for their performances that took them far away from smoky nightclubs and into the halls of the academy.

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Mosaic Records To Release Clifford Jordan Set

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An update on previously-mentioned and newly-announced box-sets.

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Herd Twice: Woody Herman In The 1940s

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In the 1940s Woody Herman led three big bands that grew progressively in musicianship and excitement.

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Turn Out The Stars: Volume Four

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In musical remembrance of artists past: Night Lights returns with another program of jazz elegies.

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Why Jazz Happened, With Marc Myers

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JazzWax blogger and Wall Street Journal music writer Marc Myers discusses his book about how cultural, economic, and social forces shaped the sound of jazz.

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Freddie Hubbard: The CTI Years

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In the early 1970s trumpeter Freddie Hubbard made a series of records for the CTI label that combined hardbop, funk, modality, and 70s groove.

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Jazz Women Of The 1940s

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Women instrumentalists thrived in the upside-down jazz world of wartime America.

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The Jazz Standards, With Ted Gioia

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Jazz historian Ted Gioia joins Night Lights this week to talk about his latest book.

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Best Historical Releases Of 2012

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Our annual, highly-subjective roundup of classic-jazz favorites.

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Have Yourself a Very Quiet Christmas

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

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Brubeck Time

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Much time out across the jazz world and beyond for Mr. Brubeck.

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Birth Of The Cool, Birth Of The School

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Indiana's impact on a seminal early Miles Davis record, the sound of West Coast jazz, and the rise of jazz education.

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A National Road Of Song: Indiana Singing Groups And Songwriters

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Many influential and significant jazz artists have come out of the state of Indiana… but the Hoosier heartland has also produced several notable songwriters and vocal groups as well, including Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, the Four Freshmen, and the Ink Spots.

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Indiana Avenue: Black Boulevard Of Jazz

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Exploring the lost world of 20th century Indianapolis jazz and the ways in which its musical influence continues to reverberate throughout today's jazz scene.

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The Road To Stardust:Hoagy Carmichael And Bix Beiderbecke In 1924

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How a college-town springtime in the Jazz Age Midwest paved the way for two legends in the making.

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Gennett Days: Hot Jazz From The Heartland

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In the 1920s hot jazz swept the college campuses of Indiana—and a record label in Richmond introduced the world to Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, and Hoagy Carmichael.

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Jazz Crossroads Of America: Indiana's Musical Legacy

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From ragtime to the rise of jazz education, the state of Indiana played a significant part in shaping the sound of modern jazz.

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The Big Support: Cracking The Case For Night Lights

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It's really no mystery: Night Lights relies on listeners like you to keep the stories and sounds of classic jazz on the air and online.

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1961: New Jazz Frontier

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It was 1961, and America had a new, young president...the Cold War turned up a notch…and jazz continued to evolve in ear-opening ways.

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Communion: Don Cherry In The 1960s

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In the 1960s cornetist Don Cherry, who had to come to fame as a member of Ornette Coleman’s quartet, began to forge his own musical path

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The David Baker Songbook

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David Baker, one of the world's most renowned jazz educators, passed away March 26. In this archived show he joined us for a look at his compositional legacy.

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Live From The Netherlands: The Sesjun Radio Shows

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From 1973 to 2004 the Dutch radio show “Tros Sesjun” broadcast live jazz every week, featuring artists such as Bill Evans in their late-period prime.

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The Big Bands' Little Bands

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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.

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The Big Speakeasy: Jazz And Prohibition

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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.

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Burning With Bud: Bud Powell Live 1944-1953

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The great bebop pianist on the radio and in concert with Cootie Williams, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and as the leader of his own trio.

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A Different Journey: Chico Hamilton In The 1960s

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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.

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Jazz From Monterey: 1966

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By 1966 the Monterey Jazz Festival was an established institution—but the decade’s winds of change were already starting to blow from the festival’s stage.

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Fourth Of July: NPR's Take Five, A Note Of Thanks And More

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A playlist and some programs for America's national holiday.

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More Than A Solo: Seven Reasons To Support Night Lights

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Help Night Lights make its online fund-drive goal this year! Any and all contributions make a difference. Afterwards, enjoy a historic Sonny Rollins solo.

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Chick Webb And Ella Fitzgerald Mosaic Set On The Way

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A hard-swinging big band paired with a jazz legend in the making.

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Matrix: The Emergence Of Chick Corea

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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.

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The Randy Weston Songbook

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From Brooklyn to Africa and back again, Randy Weston made his mark as a composer.

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Music For The Memorial Day Weekend: Glenn Miller At War And More

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Programs for the holiday of personal and public remembrance.

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Reminiscing In Tempo: Remembrance In Jazz And Popular Song

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A convergence of grief, memory and music for Memorial Day.

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Go West, Jazz Man: Outtakes From This Week's NPR Take Five Post

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More jazz with a Western theme, this time from Grant Green, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, and others.

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Listening to the Savory Collection With Loren Schoenberg

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Join Loren Schoenberg for some music from one of the greatest finds in the history of jazz—a treasure trove of broadcasts from the golden age of swing.

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Sacred Blue: Jazz Goes To Church In the 1960s

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Jazz fans are known for their religious-like zeal, but in the 1960s jazz sometimes became a PART of religion, providing the soundtrack for masses and other church ceremonies.

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Where's The Rhythm?

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A variant on the old "Where's the melody" saw, circa 1959.

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The Jade Bass: A Tribute To Scott LaFaro

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Scott LaFaro lived only 25 years. His influence as a revolutionary jazz bassist has lasted 50 years and counting.

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A Few Miles From Memphis: Harold Mabern, The Early Years

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He came from Memphis—a pianist who quietly built a reputation over decades as a first-class soloist, accompanist, and writer, carrying musically impeccable credentials from the golden age of hardbop.

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NIPR-Fort Wayne Adds Night Lights, Afterglow to Lineup

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Both programs make their debut this week on Northeast Indiana Public Radio.

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Mary Osborne: Queen Of The Jazz Guitar

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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.

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Jazz Women Of The 1960s

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As cultural changes gained momentum in the 1960s, a generation of women artists made their way through a jazz world that had long been resistant to their aims.

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New Coleman Hawkins Mosaic, Updates On Lunceford And Rivers

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News about new and forthcoming box sets from the premier jazz reissue label.

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Blues For Moody: A Musical Remembrance Of James Moody

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He was a compelling artist, a down-to-earth entertainer, and a human being almost universally known as a genuinely nice person. Saxophonist and flutist James Moody passed away in December 2010 at the age of 85, leaving behind a 65-year-long legacy of jazz. We delve into some of that legacy this week on Night Lights.

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Hughes' Blues: The Langston Hughes Songbook

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Langston Hughes, songwriter? The celebrated African-American author wrote numerous songs, recorded by Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Gary Bartz, and others.

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Portrait of Little Jazz: A Tribute to Roy Eldridge

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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.

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Three From Kerouac For the New Year

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Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, the hunt, and visions of a jazz deity.

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The Bridge: Billy Taylor, 1921-2010

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As a performer, composer, educator, media host, and advocate, Billy Taylor built a boulevard of jazz for listeners around the world to travel.

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Best Historical Releases and Reissues of 2010

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A look back at musical look-backs from the past year.

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A Cool Christmas

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Come along for a jazz sleigh ride this week on Night Lights, with music from Shirley Horn, Paul Bley, Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery, and more.

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A New Performance of Mary Lou Williams' "Zodiac Suite"

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Mary Lou Williams' extended work will be performed in its entirety by a large ensemble for the first time since 1945.

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Playland At The Beach: Dave Brubeck's Early Octet And Trio

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The story and music of Dave Brubeck’s professional prelude as a young, experimental West Coast jazz musician.

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The Billy Strayhorn Songbook

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Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s composing/arranging partner for 27 years, writing “Take the A Train,” “Lush Life,” and many other eventual jazz standards.

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A Brief History of Mary Lou Williams

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Mary Lou Williams' career included everything from Kansas City swing and bebop to expatriate and sacred jazz, a stint as a jazz educator, and a 1977 encounter with avant-garde icon Cecil Taylor.

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Autumn Serenades

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Autumn’s here, and the time is right for lying in the leaves, with music from Nat King Cole, Johnny Hartman, Sonny Rollins and more.

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Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links For October

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Tony Curtis and SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, CTI reissues coming, the Coltrane album that got you started, a film about Vince Guaraldi, and more.

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We Brothers Three: The Montgomerys, Joneses And Heaths

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Brother, where are you? Right here on the bandstand.

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Goin' Up: Space Age Jazz

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In the 1950s and 60s the race for space loomed large in the cultural imagination, and jazz artists such as Duke Ellington and Sun Ra picked up on the theme.

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When Trane Met The Equinox: Happy Birthday, John Coltrane

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The convergence of two stellar events: the birth of John Coltrane and the beginning of autumn.

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He, Too, Was America: Duke Ellington's Sepia Panorama

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A new book examines the bandleader and composer's life in the historical context of his times.

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Jazz From Monterey: 1958, The Birth Of A Festival

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In the late 1950s a former DJ and a journalist realized a dream that would become one of the longest-running live jazz events in the world-a weekend-long outdoor series of concerts in a beautiful central California coastal setting featuring some of the music’s greatest artists.

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Workin': The Work Song In Jazz And Popular Music

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Work songs go back at least as far as the beginning of recorded human history; whether farming, hunting, cultivating, sailing, or hammering, in the past we often chanted and sang to help us carry out our tasks; and even today, many employees listen to music in their places of work. Historian Ted Gioia joins us to talk about work songs and jazz.

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Still Colossal: Happy 80th Birthday, Sonny Rollins

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Programs from the Night Lights archives featuring live performances, a signal year, and Thelonious Monk.

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Bird Lives! The Charlie Parker Memorial Concert Songbook

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Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker revolutionized the sound of jazz and inspired many of his fellow artists in the 1940s and 50s with his flights of innovation in melody, harmony and rhythm. In the decade following his death at the age of 34 in 1955, a series of tribute concerts were held in his honor, as his proteges and others played in his memory.

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I'd Like to Listen, Please: Dennis Hopper Among The Jazz Beatniks

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A young Dennis Hopper, that is, as a curious sailor who meets a most unusual lady at a jazz club in the 1961 movie NIGHT TIDE.

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Enter, Evening: Jazz Nocturnes

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Jazz and the night: moody, evocative music for the evening.

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Mosaic Records In Discussions To Release Savory Collection

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The New York Times reports that the reissue label is in talks with the National Jazz Museum to release music from the William Savory collection on CD.

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An Iconic Voice, An Iconic Eye: Abbey Lincoln And Herman Leonard

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Abbey Lincoln personified the soul of jazz; Herman Leonard caught it with his camera.

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Pull Your Coat, August 6: Abbey Lincoln, Nat Cole, & Jackie McLean

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An 80th-birthday tribute to singer Abbey Lincoln, a Jackie McLean documentary, a newly-discovered Nat King Cole concert, and more.

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Two For The Blues, Weekend Edition: Annie Ross And Basquiat

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A program about the singer, a movie about the artist.

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Off The A-Train: Paul Gonsalves, 1957-1963

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Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves is best known for the epic 27-chorus solo he took with Duke Ellington’s orchestra at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, but in the late 1950s and early 60s he showed his strength in a number of small-group recordings away from the Ellington orchestra as well, made with artists such as Wynton Kelly and Sonny Stitt.

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It's All In The Game: Louis Armstrong, 1947-1957

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In the spring of 1947 trumpeter Louis Armstrong was 45 years old-considered by some critics and fans to be all but washed up, with his best years behind him and his music made irrelevant by the rising force of bebop. But Armstrong was on the verge of one of the most interesting stretches of his career.

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Good Vibes: Music For The Final Days Of The Online Fund Drive

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Your contribution could be the one to put us over the top, as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Lem Winchester and others provide the soundtrack for support.

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The Prestige Records Story

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A special online fund-drive show featuring classic sides from the Prestige label. You can enjoy some great jazz and help us make our goal at the same time!

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Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links For June 19, 2010

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A new remembrance of Henry Grimes' 2003 return to jazz, Herbie Hancock's latest, and more.

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Six Degrees Of Support: Help Keep Bringing Night Lights To You

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Your connection to Night Lights might be closer than it appears. Why your contribution counts, for another year of Night Lights and more.

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Daddy-O! Father-And-Son Teams In Jazz

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"Hey Dad, can I borrow the saxophone keys?" Night Lights pays tribute to the Father's Day holiday with music from Von and Chico Freeman, Duke and Mercer Ellington, Jackie and Rene McLean, and more.

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Jazzing The Cool With Ted Gioia

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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.

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Some Shows for Memorial Day

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Music for departed jazz musicians, topical songs of World War II, and more.

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The Last: Final Recordings Of Jazz Greats

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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.

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What's My Line? Ellington, Nat King Cole And Satchmo On TV

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Could you have guessed who they were? Three giants of jazz on the 1950s TV quiz show.

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Shaw Sounds Final: Artie Shaw, 1949-54

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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.

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Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links For May 21th, 2010

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Recent news about upcoming publications, the state of jazz radio and Hank Jones.

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The Quiet One: An Appreciation Of Hank Jones, 1918-2010

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A jazz pianist of swinging grace who gave us 70 years of subtle musical pleasure.

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Charles McPherson's Post-Bird Bop

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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.

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Sam Rivers Mosaic Set This November

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Mosaic Records will release a set of Rivers' 1970s New York City jazz loft recordings this autumn.

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Returning The Call: More From The Unsung Hardbop Heroes Of Chicago

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City of big shoulders, city on the make, and city of a hip, subtle, and wryly street-smart hardbop sound-Chicago in the late 1950s and early 1960s. "Returning the Call" features the MJT + 3's rarely-heard first album, music from pianists John Young and Eddie Higgins, and a 1960 gathering of Chicago jazz talents led by trumpeter Paul Serrano.

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1960: Jazz At The Dawn Of A Decade

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It was a year that signaled the start of one of the most tumultuous eras in American history-and the change that was about to come began to be reflected in jazz as well.

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Old School: Gang Starr's "Jazz Thing"

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An early mix of hiphop and jazz by the late rapper Guru.

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The "Birth Of The Cool" Songbook

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The Birth of the Cool was a milestone in modern jazz-a handful of arrangements, compositions, recording sessions, and performances that, as historian Ted Gioia notes, "turned the jazz idiom on its head." This show highlights interpretations by Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, the Modern Jazz Quartet and others.

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Herbie Nichols' Third World

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The story of Herbie Nichols, a pianist, composer and intellectual who grew up in the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, an overlooked figure in his lifetime whose music has been celebrated and recorded frequently in the past 25 years, and subject of a new biography. Author Mark Miller joins us for a look at Nichols' life and music.

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1987: Jazz For The Big Dance In New Orleans

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A video flashback to CBS' jazz introduction for the 1987 NCAA men's basketball championship game.

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Talkin' Baseball: The Year The Yankees Won The Pennant

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Music for baseball's Opening Day and a look back at a magical season for the most hated team in the game.

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Marian McPartland: Her Music, Her Reflections

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Afterglow highlights Marian McPartland's own compositions and excerpts from a 1975 interview with founding host Dick Bishop.

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Play Night Lights For Me: Now Airing On KRML In Carmel, CA

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Night Lights comes to a jazz station with a legendary cinematic connection.

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The Wayne Shorter Songbook

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Wayne Shorter was one of the great tenor saxophonists and composers of the modern jazz era, an enigmatic and searching musician and personality who was once labeled by jazz critic Larry Kart as "one of the most dangerous players to ever pick up a horn."

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Portraits Of Harlem

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For decades Harlem was the capital of African-American culture in the United States. It inspired all sorts of musical tributes, from celebratory and sensationalistic swing songs to extended concert works by James P. Johnson, Benny Carter and Duke Ellington.

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Thelonious Monk: From Myth To Man (Part 2)

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In the late 1950s Thelonious Monk’s star finally began to rise. But even as the pianist hit artistic and commercial peaks, other problems began to set in.

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Clark's Last Leap: Sonny Clark, 1961-62

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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.

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Thelonious Monk: From Man To Myth (Part 1)

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Thelonious Monk was 'the high priest of bebop,' a family man, a bohemian icon, and one of the most significant composers of modern jazz.

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Suite History: Jazz Composers And The African-American Odyssey

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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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Dedicated: An Interview With Grammy Winner Kurt Elling

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Kurt Elling won his first Grammy Sunday night, for his John Coltrane tribute CD "Dedicated to You." Listen to music from the CD and an interview with the singer from a recent Afterglow program.

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2010 Jazz Grammy Winners

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Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, and Dan Morgenstern are a few of the jazz winners from last night's ceremony.

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Chicago Calling: Unsung Heroes Of The City's Hardbop Scene

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Chicago is a historic capital of early jazz and post-World War II blues, but in the 1950s and early 60s it also had a thriving hardbop scene. Musicians such as Ira Sullivan, Wilbur Ware and Von Freeman played with a bluesy, brawny edge, suffused with what Chicago native and jazz critic Larry Kart calls "an air of downhome experimentation."

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Cafe Society: The Wrong Place For The Right People

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Cafe Society was New York City's first integrated nightclub, the place where Billie Holiday first sang the anti-lynching anthem "Strange Fruit," and a cultural flashpoint for artists, jazz musicians, intellectuals, and political activists of the 1940s.

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Pull Your Coat: Jazz News And Links For January 15, 2010

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The weekly round-up of interesting jazz links from around the web.

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Night Lights Best Of 2009: Books Edition

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Some jazz books from the past year that caught Night Lights' eyes.

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Night Lights Best Of 2009: Music Edition

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Releases both historic and modern that grabbed the attention of Night Lights' ears over the past year.

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The Past Recaptured: 2009 Reissues

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A sampling of some favorite reissues from the past year, including Stan Getz, Denny Zeitlin, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, and Tony Williams.

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Relaxin' With The Fireside Afterglow

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

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

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

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Holiday Snow From Afterglow And The Night Lights Before Christmas

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Some Yuletide offerings from Afterglow and the Night Lights archives.

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Hep To The Holidays

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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.

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

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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.

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Bob Brookmeyer And Some Of His Friends

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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Extension: Clare Fischer In The 1960s

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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.

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When Hoagy Met Johnny: The Carmichael-Mercer Connection

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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.

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Johnny Mercer At 100

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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.

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The Jazz Loft Project: Bringing A Hidden History To Life

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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.

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Dolphy '64

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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.

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

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

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Halloween: Haunted Love Songs, Strange Enchantment

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

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Sweet Smell Of Success: Jazz Meets Showbiz Noir

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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."

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Before Rock, There Was Jazz: Tom Wilson And Transition Records

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Tom Wilson produced rock albums by Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Velvet Underground that were some of the most influential records of the 1960s, but he got his start in the 1950s running his own adventurous jazz label, recording artists such as John Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra.

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Oscar Peterson Sings; Revolutionary Jazz Cover Art; Time Travel

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

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Art Tatum: The Group Masterpieces

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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.

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

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

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John Zorn: Tradition And Transgression

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

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John Zorn: Hardboiled Bop

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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.

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

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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.

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Before Broadway: George Benson In The 1960s

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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.

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Music For The Autumn, New Station News, And More

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

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A Birth Supreme: John Coltrane

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

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The John Coltrane Songbook

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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.

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Mosaic To Release Bing Crosby Set

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

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Rollins '57: Sonny Rollins Takes The Lead

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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.

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Labor Day Weekend: Popular Song On The Picket Line

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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.

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

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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.

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Impulse: The Vocal Sides

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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.

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Hail To The Chief: Lester Young At 100

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

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Jazz Death? V. 59

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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.

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Very Early: Bill Evans, 1956-1958

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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.

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Claude Thornhill: The Godfather Of Cool

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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.

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

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

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George Russell: The Quiet Force Behind Modern Jazz

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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.

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

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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.

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Lady Day Remembered: Billie Holiday

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

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Jazz News Of Note

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

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Happy Bastille Day

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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.

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Night Lights Online Survey

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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)?

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

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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.

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A July 4th Popular-Song Celebration, On Afterglow

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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.

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We Made It! A Note Of Thanks

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

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Satchmo, Take Two: Louis Armstrong At The Movies

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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.

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Night Lights On Facebook: Some Shows You Might Like

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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.

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Billy Eckstine On Roulette

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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.

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From Indiana To Neverland: Michael Jackson

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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.

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Mosaic Records Releases Artie Shaw Set This Autumn

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

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The Juneteenth Jazz Jamboree

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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.

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Frank Zappa Meets Steve Allen, Plays Bike

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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.

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The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman And Little

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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".

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Night Lights: 25 Reasons To Give $25

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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.

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Benny Goodman's Interlude In Bop

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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.

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A Retrospective Memorial Day: Looking Back At 1945

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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.

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Turn Out The Stars III: More Jazz Elegies

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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.

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Al Cobine: Another Indiana Jazz Legend Passes Away

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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.

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NEA Announces Jazz Masters For 2010

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

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Young Wynton: Early Marsalis

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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.

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R.I.P. Buddy Montgomery

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

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The Ornette Coleman Songbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Jazz News Of Note

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

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David Young's Quiet Strength

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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.

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After The Vanguard: The Return Of Bill Evans

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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?

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Wax Poetics: The Jazz Issue

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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Night Lights Debuts On KFSR: Fresno, California

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

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Shirley Scott, Queen Of The Organ

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A renowned female organist, Scott recorded a number of soul-jazz classics in the late 1950s and 1960s.

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David Young On WFIU's Artworks

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

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Nellie Lutcher's Real Gone Rhythm

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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.

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Blue Note to Release 1969 Freddie Hubbard Concert

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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.

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

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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."

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Jazz News of Note

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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.

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Dearly Beloved: Husband-And-Wife Teams In Jazz

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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.

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R. I. P., Tenor Saxophonist David Young

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

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"Keepnews Collection" Is Kaput

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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.

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The Benny Golson Songbook

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"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

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David Fathead Newman Has Gone

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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

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The Pepsi "My Generation" Ad

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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...

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Richard Sudhalter: a Brief Remembrance

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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).

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Reissues and Historical Releases: Best of 2008

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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:

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Blue Note Records on NPR's Talk of the Nation

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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."

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1959: Jazz's Vintage Year

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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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Living Theater Revives "The Connection"

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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.

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G.M. Pulls Out of Montreal Jazz Festival

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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.

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Blue Note Records Announces More Catalogue Deletions

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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.

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Obama: We'll Have Jazz at the White House

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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.”

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Jazz News of Note

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*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.

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Mosaic Announces John Handy Set

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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).

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West Coast Jazz: Get It While You Can

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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.

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

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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."

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Mosaic Records Returns to the Vinyl Biz

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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.

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A Great Jazz Band: NPR On the Lexington Program

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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."

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Ghostly Jazz and Popular Song for Halloween, Part 2

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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")...

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Ghostly Jazz and Popular Song for Halloween, Part 1

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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")...

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JazzTimes Editor Responds to PREX Critique

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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.

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Jazz Magazines Bad For Jazz?

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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?

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Update on Ahmad Jamal Mosaic Box

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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:

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Close Enough for Jazz: Wynton Marsalis on the Colbert Report

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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.

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Edie Adams and Stan Getz

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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:

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Jazz Photographer William Claxton Passes Away

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

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The Johnny Green Songbook, Part 2

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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.

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The Johnny Green Songbook, Part 1

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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.

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Anthony Braxton Mosaic: Outtakes From the Liner Notes

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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.

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Star On Miles: The Return Of Miles Davis

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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.

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Lord Buckley As Go Man Van Gogh

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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.

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Jest Finite: David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

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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.

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Turning Night Lights Back On

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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...

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Jazz Quotes: Miles Davis

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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:

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Last Of The Lions: Gerald Wilson

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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.

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Night Lights on Labor Day-Chicago and Elsewhere

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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.

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When Sonny Slayed the Dragon

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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.

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The Horace Silver Songbook

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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.

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Songs for Some Jazz Fathers: Shorter, Silver and Wilson

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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.

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

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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.

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Jazz News of Note

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

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

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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.

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Dick Twardzik Bio Lives!

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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...

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Golden Arms and Glasses: When Algren Met Holiday

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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

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Jazz Impressions Of Paris

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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.

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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

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

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

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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."

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Jazz Icons Series 3 Update

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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...

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Pianist Ronnie Mathews R.I.P.

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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.

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Jazz Goes Folk

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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.

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Ask David Amram

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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...

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Jazz Quotes: Allen Lowe

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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...

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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*Mosaic Records will release a <a href="http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=43805">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...

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Lost Legends of Indiana Jazz

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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...

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NEA Announces 2009 Jazz Masters

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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...

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Individualism: Gil Evans In The 1960s

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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.

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Jump for Joy: When Chicago Met the Duke

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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.

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American Popular Song and World War II: Part 2

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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.

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American Popular Song and World War II: Part 1

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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.

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Billy Taylor and Charles Mingus at Storyville

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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...

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Grand Theft Auto With a Classic Jazz Beat

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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...

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Eric Dolphy Bio Coming From Penguin Jazz Guide Co-Author

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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

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

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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:

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Oscar Peterson Verve Trio Mosaic Set

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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...

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

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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...

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StopSmiling: the Jazz Issue

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StopSmiling: the Jazz Issue

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

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(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.

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The Carla Bley Songbook

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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.

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Jazz Impressions Of Brubeck

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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.

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Jimmy Giuffre Tributes Around the Web

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

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

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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.

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Forthcoming HatOLOGY Reissues

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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...

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IAJE Cancels Seattle Conference, Declares Bankruptcy

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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...

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

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

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Jazz and Film Scoring at the Museum of Modern Art

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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...

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Legendary Savoy Producer Ozzie Cadena Dead at 83

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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...

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Update on Nessa Records Reissues, Gillespie Big Band With Monk

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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...

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Ornette Coleman at New York City's Town Hall

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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...

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Saxophonist Phil Urso RIP

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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.

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Benny Carter's Kansas City Suite

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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 KPLU.org...

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Anthony Braxton Mosaic in the Works

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Lots of Mosaic Records news lately-now it appears, according to a post at freejazz.org, 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...

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

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*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

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Too Little, Too Soon: Booker Little

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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.

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Another Set of Jazz Icons DVDs On the Way

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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 Monk...you get the picture. (And the sound!) A third wave of titles has been announced-we'll be seeing the following come September...

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Jazz and Religion: The Church of John Coltrane

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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.

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Jazz for the Easter Weekend

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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...

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

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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...

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Jazz Flower Power: The Charles Lloyd Quartet

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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.

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Bix Beiderbecke: Never the Same Way Twice

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“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.

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Kung Fu Jamming: When Cannonball Met Feliciano

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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).

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Larry Kart: Jazz's Intrepid Critical Searcher

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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...

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Look What I Got: Betty Carter

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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.

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

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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.

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Mosaic To Release Ahmad Jamal Trio Set

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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.

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The Jazz Baroness Redux

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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...

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Teo Macero, Man Behind Electric Miles and More: RIP

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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.

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The Jazz Baroness On the BBC

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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...

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Jump For Joy: Duke Ellington's Celebratory Musical

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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.

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John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 4

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

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John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 3

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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.

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John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 2

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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.

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John Handy Talks With Night Lights: Part 1

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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.

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Woody Herman's Swingin' Herd

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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."

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Handy With The Horn: The Rise Of John Handy

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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.

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

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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...

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Mike Fitzgerald's Jazz Discography Project

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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...

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Pianist Frank Kimbrough On the "Air"

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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...

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Superman Soars Off: Pete Candoli, 1923-2008

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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

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Jazz Around the Internet: A New Site and More

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Jazz Around the Internet: A New Site and More

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Jazz For After The Dentist: Cannonball Adderley And Bill Evans

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

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Lee Konitz: the Verve Years

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Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz is a longtime master of melodic improvisation who's 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.

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"Jazz Impressions of Show Boat" Part 2

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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 ...

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Favorite Reissues and Historical Releases of 2007

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Take with the usual grain/caveat of subjectivity-that said, here are some titles from a year-for-the-ear in review...

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When Mood Jazz Was Cool: Moodsville 2

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On this edition of Night Lights it's "Moodsville 2," a followup to the Moodsville 1 program about the Prestige Records early-1960s series that was a sort of "jazz-ballads-for-thinking-lovers" concept.

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Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: Class of '57

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Drummer Art Blakey led the Jazz Messengers, one of jazz history's most noted and longest-running collectives, for four decades. The lesser-known 1957 edition included saxophonist Jackie McLean and trumpeter Bill Hardman, whose chemistry one writer described as "beautiful, tart...their brash, peppery tones created a distinctive front-line sound."

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Paul Robeson, "Ol' Man River," And "Jazz Impressions of Showboat"

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On December 27, 1927, the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat made its Broadway debut at the Ziegfield Theater. Show Boat, based on Edna Ferber’s novel, was one of the first musicals that wasn’t just a loose revue of unrelated songs; the songs in Show Boat actually helped establish characters and storylines.

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Oscar Peterson: More Remembrances and Reactions, Plus More News From Mosaic

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As expected, many more Oscar Peterson articles and tributes have appeared in the past two days. Here are a few of them:Lots of love and spirited dissension in this Organissimo discussion...

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Goodbye, O.P.: Oscar Peterson, 1925-2007

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Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson has passed away at the age of 82. He was, as Doug Ramsey observes, "one of the great piano figures of his time... an inspiration to virtually every jazz pianist who followed him, his influence equaled only by his slightly younger contemporary Bill Evans."

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Music for the Holidays: Nat King Cole

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Season's greetings from Night Lights via holiday ambassador Mr. Cole:

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Ask Me Now: Takes on Jazz and Literature

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Ever since Louis Armstrong's trumpet sound became a symbol of musical revolution and Bix Beiderbecke died tragically young in a New York City apartment, writers have been responding to jazz and the musicians who make it.

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The Night Before Christmas: Holiday Jazz

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Our annual invocation of holiday jazz this year calls upon the talents of Fats Navarro (”A Bebop Carol”), hipster vocalist Babs Gonzales, tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons, trumpeter Donald Byrd, guitarist Joe Pass, and many other propagators of classic jazz, blowing joyous tidings unto you all. Happy holidays from all of us at Night Lights and WFIU–may you find many great books, movies, CDs, and other “items of interest” under your holiday tree.

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Who's the Bill Evans Cover Girl?

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One of the albums featured in this week's show, After the Vanguard: the Return of Bill Evans, is the 1962 Riverside LP Moonbeams. Can you name the model who posed for the cover? (Hint: she went on to greater fame in the mid-1960s with a certain artistic entrepreneur. And no fair Googling.)

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Jazz Quotes: Bill Evans

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"Jazz is not a what, it is a how. If it were a what, it would be static, never growing. The how is that the music comes from the moment, it is spontaneous, it exists at the time it is created. And anyone who makes music according to this method conveys to me an element that makes his music jazz."-Bill Evans

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Frank Morgan RIP

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Word from the Jazz Programmer Listserv that alto saxophonist Frank Morgan has passed away:his 74th, birthday, December 23....

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Jazz for the Holidays: Shorty Rogers and "Greensleeves"

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From the "DVDs-we're-sorry-we-missed" dpt.: a clip from trumpeter Shorty Rogers' appearance on the too-hip-to-last early-1960s TV show, Jazz Scene USA. Quite likely inspired by John Coltrane's recording of the song the year before for his album Africa/Brass.

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Donald Byrd: The Hardbop Years

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In 1956, 25-year-old trumpet great Clifford Brown died unexpectedly in an automobile accident. Some critics and fans looked to a recent Manhattan arrival from Detroit as a possible successor: Donald Byrd.

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Blue Note Reissues for 2008

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Despite online speculation about what grim things EMI might have in mind for the Blue Note jazz program, it appears there will be another round of RVG and Connoisseur reissues, as reported at the Organissimo board:Ike Quebec – Blue And Sentimental...

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Ornette Coleman in Rolling Stone

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First a Pulitzer, then a Grammy and a presentation on the Grammy TV show (somewhat akin to seeing a holy man appear in the temple of Babylon), now a feature in Rolling Stone...at the age of 77, Ornette Coleman has finally received the...

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Benny Goodman Mosaic Coming Out Late Spring '08

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Scott Wenzel at Mosaic Records says that the long-rumored Benny Goodman Mosaic set will be out in time for Father's Day 2008. It will consist of the big-band instrumental sides that Benny recorded for Columbia between 1939 and 1958, amounting to 7 CDs.

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Later Ellis: Don Ellis' Score for "The French Connection"

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Previously on Night Lights: Don Ellis and The French Connection. It offers more than a taste of later, larger-ensemble Ellis, heard at the dawn of the 1970s...

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Cecil Payne RIP

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There are several confirmed reports from yesterday evening and this morning that baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, an unsung hero of the bebop era, has passed away:

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Early Ellis: Don Ellis At The Dawn Of The 1960s

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Trumpeter Don Ellis is best-known today for the big bands he led during the late 1960s and early 1970s and their use of odd time signatures, but he made his first impact on the jazz world at the beginning of the 1960s, leading several progressive small-group dates that drew both praise and criticism from the jazz media.

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Sunday Noir: The Big Steal

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Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and screwball noir in late-1940s Mexico.

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Roscoe Mitchell in print, Dick Twardzik on the air

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Brief notes for the holiday weekend:*Copacetic Night Lights friend Bill Kirchner is taking his monthly turn on WBGO's Jazz From the Archives this Sunday evening with a program on pianist Dick Twardzik...

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Louis Armstrong: the Wonderful World That Almost Wasn't

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Annals of broken-limbs-and-books dpt.: recently I broke my right arm in a bike accident. The only good thing that ensued from said accident was a chance to spend several days catching up on my reading (kids, don't try this at home), and one of the books I got around to was Ashley Kahn's story of Impulse Records, The House That Trane Built. Kahn, who's previously written books on the making of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, focuses as much on Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele, the producers who successively oversaw the rise of Impulse, as he does on the musicians such as Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp...

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Dick and Kiz Harp: Down at the 90th Floor

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Dick and Kiz Harp were a husband-and-wife, piano-and-vocals duo who ran their own nightclub (converted from a warehouse and called "The 90th Floor," after a lesser-known Cole Porter song they performed) in Dallas, Texas at the end of the 1950s. They've developed a cult following among jazz-vocal aficionados ...

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Advertisements for Norman Mailer On the Way Out

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Reading Norman Mailer while at sea-literally and existentially.

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Archival Suggestions: Jazz Goes to the Cold War and Jivin' With the DJs

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This week on Night Lights it's "Jazz Goes to the Cold War," a program about the U.S. State Department's sponsorship of international jazz tours during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1956, as both the Cold War and the civil-rights movement heated up, the American government asked Dizzy Gillespie to assemble a new big band to promote the image of American freedom around the globe. Gillespie obliged, although he made it clear...

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

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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.

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Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress

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A couple of years ago I did a Night Lights show about Oscar Brown Jr., a singer and songwriter I'd long admired for his compositional skills, his vocal verve, and his cultural and political activism.

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NPR launches new jazz multimedia site

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NPR has launched a new multimedia jazz and blues page as part of a larger new musical site. The site offers content produced by NPR and a number of contributing stations, including interviews, reviews, blogs, and streaming music. A first glance reveals...

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Quincy Jones and Lionel Hampton Mosaic sets up for pre-order

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Just in time for Christmas: Mosaic Records has discographical information and audio clips up for their forthcoming Quincy Jones and Lionel Hampton sets, out later this month. The Hampton includes the vibraphonist's remarkable late-1930s small-group dates...

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Night Lights: a live broadcast this weekend! Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey, and how you can support the program.

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This week on Night Lights I'll be playing jazz from a new Miles Davis concert release-MONTEREY '63, featuring the then-new rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams...along with Mosaic Records reissues of classic hardbop J.J. Johnson/Kai Winding and Art Blakey albums... the never-before-released Ella Fitzgerald LOVE LETTERS, featuring the singer in small-group settings, with big bands, and with the London Symphony Orchestra...and much, much more. And I'll be broadcasting live, because this is the beginning of...

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Jazz Quotes: Lee Konitz

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That's my way of preparation-to not be prepared. And that takes a lot of preparation!-alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, from the new book Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art. You can read an online excerpt here.

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Charles Tolliver On Strata East In The Early 1970s

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In the early 1970s, as recording opportunities for more adventurous hard-bop musicians dried up, trumpeter Charles Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell started their own label, Strata East, partly in order to document the activities of their quartet Music Inc. The aesthetic results were in some ways an extension of the music Tolliver had made in the 1960s with artists such as Jackie McLean, Max Roach, and Andrew Hill...

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Ran Blake's Halloween film and jazz performance...and Harry James, the MGM Years

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From piano-noir master Ran Blake, just in time for Halloween-New England-area readers and listeners, take note: Ran's fall student performance focuses on one of his favorite films, the psychological murder mystery Spiral Staircase. Fittingly, the show falls on Halloween...

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The Riddle of Raintree County: How a Young Indiana Author Gave His Life for the Great American Novel

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For Raintree County is not the country of the perishable fact. It is the country of the enduring fiction. The clock in the Court House Tower on page five of the Raintree County Atlas is always fixed at nine o'clock, and it is summer and the days are long. -Ross Lockridge Jr.

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Before Colbert, There Was Dizzy: Gillespie's 1964 Run for the Presidency

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Trumpeting his stand on the issues: Gillespie's run was both a jest and a bid to highlight civil rights.

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Second Magic City: Sun Ra In Chicago

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The story of Sun Ra's Chicago years, when he formed his Arkestra, forged his new identity, and wrote some of his most compelling music.

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David Baker: Quincy Jones Mosaic out soon

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One of the great things about working at WFIU is having David Baker stop by occasionally for appearances on Joe Bourne's weekday afternoon program "Just You and Me". As busy as he is, he's always been incredibly generous with his time, and I'm always grateful for any chance to speak with him. He's full of stories, insights, and good will; a few minutes in his presence and you'll understand why he's been such a successful jazz educator.David came in today to chat about the inauguration concert for Indiana University president Michael McRobbie that he'll be conducting Sunday night...

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Phil Ford on the Jack Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes jazz acetates

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Indiana University Jacobs School of Music professor Phil Ford, heard recently on our Night Lights program Jazz and Jack Kerouac, will be giving a talk this Friday (Oct. 19) on private acetate recordings that Kerouac, John Clellon Holmes, and Allen Ginsberg made in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I've had occasion to hear a brief bit of one of the acetates, which featured Keroauc, Holmes, and Seymour Wise doing scat/bop vocalese accompaniment...

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Jazz around the Internet...and George Avakian speaks with Night Lights

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Notes and tones from around the web:On the heels of his fantastic Hal McKusick series, Marc Myers follows up with a profile of David Amram...

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Muhal Richard Abrams: music and interview before Night Lights at Blue Lake...plus news of Nessa Records reissues

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Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio carries Night Lights every Sunday evening at 10 p.m. EST. This Sunday, October 13, Blue Lake jazz DJ Lazaro Vega will be offering up a three-hour special on pianist Muhal Richard Abrams from 7-10 p.m, preceding the Night Lights Portrait of Max...

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A listener Writes Re: Jack Wilson

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Listener David Berk writes :I first started listening to him at a small bar on La Brea off Crenshaw in L.A. in the mid to late 60s. A brilliant composer/arranger, Jack toiled in relative obscurity despite several marvlous dates for Blue Note that included Lee Morgan, etc.

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Jack Wilson RIP, Sonny Rollins at Carnegie reviewed, a Hal McKusick interview, and new jazz books

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Word has come via Mosaic Records that pianist Jack Wilson has passed away. Wilson's best-known albums were two 1960s Blue Note dates, Easterly Winds (featuring the hardbop dynamic duo of Jackie McLean and Lee Morgan and Something Personal. He's also present and accounted for on several...

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Portrait Of Max: Max Roach, 1924-2007

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Max Roach was a revolutionary bebop drummer, a leader of the classic Clifford Brown-Sonny Rollins hardbop quintet, a social activist, jazz educator and intellectual, a forerunner of Do-It-Yourself recording, and an explorer of the avant-garde...among other things. Max Roach contained multitudes, and his death in August of 2007 reverberated across the jazz world as if it were a long solo being played on a cosmic drumset. This program, an audio snapshot of his career on record, features his work with pianists Herbie Nichols and Bud Powell, his hardbop configurations with Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins...

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Side Monk: Thelonious Monk As Sideman

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What happened when this powerful musical personality performed on other artists' dates?

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Regional jazz sites

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Following up on recent posts about the rise and fall of the Indiana Avenue jazz scene in Indianapolis, I've started a new category on the links page for websites devoted to significant jazz cities or regions and their histories...

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Still Waiting On the Corner, Or, We Want Miles V. 4

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It just wouldn't be a Sony/Legacy Miles Davis box-set without some strange, inexplicable delay. In the meantime, the Village Voice has a review up, based on an advance copy (reportedly slightly different than what's going to come out now).

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Pianist George Cables Recuperating

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There's a report from a reputable jazz-world source that pianist George Cables is recuperating from a liver and kidney transplant. He'll certainly be in my thoughts. Cables, who's always caught my ear on sideman dates with Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Woody...

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Indiana Avenue: From Glory to Decline

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(This is a continuation of a previous post, Along the Avenue: the Legacy of Indianapolis Jazz.) Indianapolis in those days was sharing in the euphoric glow of the post-World War II economy. Lockefield Gardens, the expansive and beautiful housing complex built during the Depression to provide...

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East Meets West: Ahmed Abdul-Malik And World Jazz

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Bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik played with pianists Randy Weston and Thelonious Monk in the 1950s before going on to make a handful of dates that helped forge a path for the fusion of jazz with world music.

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Duke Ellington: The Treasury Shows, August 1945

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In August of 1945 the United States' war with Japan ended suddenly, and the war bonds that Ellington promoted every Saturday turned into "Victory Bonds."

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Duke Ellington: The Treasury Shows, July 1945

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This edition of our ongoing Duke Ellington Treasury series features mid-summer performances from an Ellington appearance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

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Duke Ellington: The Treasury Shows June 1945

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Duke Ellington was on the road during the summer of 1945 and some of this program's selections come from an Evansville, Indiana concert.

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Miles Davis and the Mysterious Case of "So What"

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The remarkable Marc Myers on whether or not the Prince of Darkness was...

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Duke Ellington: The Treasury Shows, May 1945

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The "May 1945" edition finds World War II ending in Europe, something we hear Duke Ellington acknowledge several times throughout this program...

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Unsung Heroes: 20th-Century High School Jazz Teachers

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A Los Angeles City Beat article sings the praises of Jefferson High, the school that gave us alto saxophonist Marshall and trumpeter Ernie Royal, drummer Chico Hamilton, saxophonist Jackie Kelso, drummer Bill Douglass, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, trumpeter Lamar Wright, singer Ernie Andrews, violinist Ginger Smock, alto saxophonist Sonny Criss...

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Louis Armstrong and Little Rock, Midi-on-Tatum, and more in the Monday round-up

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The day Louis Armstrong told the U.S. government to go to a very choice place: David Margolick's article in the New York Times yesterday provides some historical elaboration. (Margolick is the author of Strange Fruit: the Biography of a Song.) There's also an online NPR story, Remembering Louis Armstrong's Little Rock Protest. For more about Armstrong and how the politics of the era mixed with jazz, check out our previous program Jazz Goes to the Cold War.

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Duke Ellington: The Treasury Shows, April 1945

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As World War II finally began to draw to a close, Duke Ellington began his series "Your Saturday Date With the Duke."

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Isn't It Ironic? The Bad Plus and the Jazz Canon

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The Bad Plus, who are performing at Indianapolis' Jazz Kitchen Saturday night, have posted a collective statement in response to some of the reviews they got during their recent swing through the UK. Said reviews often hit upon the Plus' choice of songbook (Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," Blondie's "Heart of Glass," Nirvana's "All Apologies," etc.) as tired irony, a joke being run into the ground, etc. BP's sincere and spirited defense is...

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Along the Avenue: the Legacy of Indianapolis Jazz

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Street of dreams: Indiana Avenue was a world unto itself that sent out artists such as J.J. Johnson and Freddie Hubbard to the wider world.

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Tenor Madness: Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and More

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Ignore the terrrible headline (boy, that's dignity for ya, after playing certain parts of your southern anatomy off for the past 60 years): Sonny Rollins is back in trio form tomorrow night at Carnegie Hall. The performance will be coupled on CD with Rollins' debut at Carnegie 50 years ago for a Voice of America concert. In the meantime, a previously...

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The Connection: The Living Theater And Hardbop Jazz

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The Connection was a groundbreaking 1959 off-Broadway play from New York City's Living Theater group, written by Jack Gelber, that cast jazz musicians as heroin addicts waiting for a score. Artists that passed through the play included pianist Freddie Redd, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, and pianist Cecil Taylor.

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Joe Zawinul and Ben Webster's "Soulmates"

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Reaction to the death of keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul will undoubtedly be pouring in today from around the jazz blogosphere for the man who wrote "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "In a Silent Way," and "Birdland." Zawinul's European and conservatory background, his key role in the great Cannonball Adderley soul-jazz groups of the 1960s, his time with Miles Davis, and, of course, his legacy as co-architect of Weather Report make him an important figure in post-1960 jazz-especially in the realm of electric piano, a still oft-disparaged instrument.Zawinul had been enjoying a resurgence of attention in the past year, what with...

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Joe Zawinul RIP

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The AP and Reuters are reporting that keyboardist, composer, and Weather Report co-founder Joe Zawinul has passed away:

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Billie Holiday Revisited

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I listen to a lot of Billie Holiday. This, given the fact that she's ubiquitous (as a friend once said a few years ago, explaining why he liked her but rarely sought out her recordings, "She's kind of like the Beatles"), part of the coffee-chain soundtrack for the 21st century (not sayin' that that's necessarily a bad thing either).

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Sonny Rollins Broadcast with Clifford Brown and Max Roach

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In honor of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins' 77th birthday-and his upcoming Carnegie Hall concert SonnyRollins.com is putting up a track every day from a previously unreleased June 1956 performance of the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet, featuring Sonny in the tenor spot...

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Another Lost-Legend Trumpeter: Freddie Webster

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Jazz history is full of hidden heroes and lost legends, players who made significant, influential or interesting contributions, but who, for one reason or another, didn't get their due-bad luck, music industry issues, personal problems, and/or early deaths resulting from any combination of the preceding. There's undoubtedly a certain romantic streak to jazz fans' interest in such musicians, a forgotten-poet mythology at work, in which the very obscurity of the artist's legacy provides some of the attraction. Often, however, the attention we now pay is justified; and sometimes, as in the case of Herbie Nichols, the hidden hero eventually...

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Early Hip and Hemingway: Chandler Brossard's Who Walk in Darkness

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Papa of the Beats? A study of downtown Manhattan hip circa 1948.

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Jazz and Jack Kerouac II

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"Jazz and Jack Kerouac" is now archived...apologies for the one-day holiday delay. For more jazz-and-Jack-Kerouac, check out our previous show, The Subterraneans, which explores the jazz score for the only film to be adapted from a Kerouac novel to date, as well as the story behind the movie and some dialogue clips from it. (The film itself...

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The Incomplete Sonny Berman

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Woody Herman called trumpeter Sonny Berman "one of the warmest soloists I ever had." His sound was humorous, lyrical, and harmonically adventurous, with a penchant for bitonality. Berman died at the age of 21 in 1947, leaving behind only a few brilliant solos, most of them recorded with Herman's big band.

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Jazz And Jack Kerouac

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On the Road, like many of Kerouac's other writings, celebrated and invoked the music of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and many other jazz greats. We'll mark this weekend's 50th anniversary of the publication of Kerouac's best-known book with a program that explores his relationship with jazz.

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The Basics of David Baker, Part 2

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More of our 2007 conversation with jazz educator David Baker, who passed away on March 26, 2016 at the age of 84.

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Bird's Birthday: Charlie Parker

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Let us now praise famous avises: Charlie Parker, born August 29, 1920. Parker's been in the air a lot lately, what with the death of his bebop compatriot Max Roach. Like Billie Holiday, his art is still somehow strong enough to defy all of the categorization and commodification that's been heaped onto it. A hipster saint he may be, but burn your candles for the hard grace of his music. Suggested Night Lights listening: our August 2005 At the Birth of Bop program...

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The Basics of David Baker: a Conversation

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A 2007 interview with composer, trombonist/cellist, and jazz educator David Baker, who passed away March 26, 2016 at the age of 84.

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Monday update

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Do the Math reports that jazz writer Richard Cook, co-author of The Penguin Guide to Jazz and author of books about Blue Note Records and Miles Davis, has passed away at the age of 50. Cook was a fine and interesting writer, and I've turned to the Penguins many times for insight and information about various artists and albums; it's the best of the jazz CD guides around. His efforts will be missed.There's a good article in the August 27 issue of the New Yorker by Alex Ross, discussing Aaron Copland's political difficulties during the Cold War...

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Frank Morgan on "Piano Jazz"

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Alto saxophonist Frank Morgan, born in 1933, is one of the last great bop storytellers and living connections to that age of music. He's also one of the last musicians left from the glory days of Los Angeles' Central Avenue scene, a school-of-the-streets from which Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, and many others graduated...

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What do Paul Anka, Mel Torme, and Mamie van Doren Have In Common?

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Nuns, teen idols, and the Velvet Fog as a rather mature-looking juvenile delinquent.

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Reboppin' With The Wild One

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The Wild One Marlon Brando's 1953 motorcycle-gang movie, was based on a real-life 1947 incident in which thousands of bikers, many of them blue-collar World War II vets from Los Angeles, descended upon a northern California town and frightened its inhabitants.

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ESP is back...

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...gotcher Brooklyn right here. My colleague Joe Bourne received a box full of ESP disks the other day, including gems from Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and much, much more. Evidently he's been living right, and I've been... well, erm, coming up short in the jazz karma department or something. But it's good news...

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From Monday On...

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"The Duke Pearson Songbook" is now archived for online listening. Extracurricular track: the Art Farmer Quintet doing Pearson's "Is That So?", available on The Time and the Place/the Lost Concert.

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"I Want To Live!"

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Based on the true story of accused murderess Barbara Graham, the 1958 movie I Want to Live! employed a jazz soundtrack written by Johnny Mandel. We'll hear music from both versions of the soundtrack that were released, as well as more background on the story behind Barbara Graham and the making of the movie.

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Kerouac Unrolled: the Scroll Edition of "On the Road"

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Hot on the heels of Jack Kerouac's entry into the Library of America comes news that the "scroll" version of his most famous book is going to be published. I actually got to see some of the scroll-which is 120 feet long-several years ago...

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More Max

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I brought in a stack of Max Roach CDs today, everything from the early sides with Parker and the civil-rights thematic works to Birth and Rebirth. Thousands of people around the world today are listening to this great man's musical legacy... his art was a liberating force, and today it unites us.

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Different Drummer Stops the Beat: Max Roach, 1924-2007

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RIP posts are a drag, for obvious reasons, and this one is a major bummer-Max Roach has left us. Another giant gone. The New York Times has an obituary up, and WKCR has begun a memorial broadcast that will continue through August 22. (Also check out the tribute at Who Walk in Brooklyn.) Word is that he passed away in his sleep early this morning, that his family was...

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Live From Monterey: Louis, Miles, Dizzy, Joe and More

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The Monterey Jazz Festival is coming up on its 50th anniversary, and I'm assuming that's why a series of CDs featuring performances by Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, Sarah Vaughan, and others is coming out next week. I'm listening today to a highlights promo...

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Herb Pomeroy

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Remembrances for trumpeter, bandleader, educator and Boston jazz mainstay Herb Pomeroy are beginning to appear around the Internet as news of his death this past Saturday spreads. Marc Myers ruminates on Pomeroy's musical legacy over at Jazzwax, and there's an obituary in today's edition of...

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The Duke Pearson Songbook

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Duke Pearson was a pianist, composer, and arranger who helped craft the sound of many of the Blue Note label's classic mid-1960s releases. He had a gift for writing quickly and coming up with memorable melodies that could be bright, poignant, or Sidewinder-style funky.

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Mondo Monk

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Last week I was working on the Night Lights schedule for the rest of the year and ran into what I thought might be a bit of a snag. Show topics are usually plotted well into the future (right now we have programs slated through the end of February 2008), but I'd realized that a certain sequence was going to bring a lot of Thelonious Monk listeners' way for several weeks in a row. Well, far worse things could happen, right?...

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The King At Midpoint: Benny Carter

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Big-band veteran and arranger, author of jazz standards such as "When Lights Are Low" and "Blues in My Heart," pioneer for black composers in Hollywood, master of two instruments (alto sax and trumpet), and inspiration and mentor to many young jazz musicians, Benny Carter came to be known as "the King."

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Jazz books in the pipeline Pt. 2

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A few days ago I posted a list of jazz biographies and books that some fans are eagerly awaiting. (Right now I'll add another-as well as the appended Bob Porter book on soul-jazz-volume two of Gary Giddins' Bing Crosby bio.) Well, here's some background on why it's rough going these days...

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On the Corner With Miles Davis (Complete)

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Release of Miles Davis' On the Corner box is imminent, as Howard Mandel notes at his new blog. Has a domestic label ever covered an artist's career so exhaustively? Put together, the Davis Sony sets equal roughly double the amount of music in the Duke Ellington RCA Victor box. Street date: Sept. 25. In the meantime, you can tap our archives...

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Art Davis R.I.P.

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Reports have been circulating on the Internet for the past several days that bassist Art Davis had passed away-confirmation now from the Los Angeles Times. Some good discussion ongoing over at Organissimo about Davis' work with Max Roach, John Coltrane...

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Jazz Books and Bios in the Publishing Pipeline

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Inspired by a recent thread at Organissimo, here's a list of jazz biographies and books that are in various stages of completion, nearing completion, or nearing publication: Peter Pullman's book on Bud Powell. Pullman has been at work on this ever since overseeing the impressive booklet for the great jazz pianist's Complete Verve Recordings...

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Makin' The Changes 2.0

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No, this isn't about Jackie McLean's Prestige years, though one of these days we're going to do a show on that very topic. Night Lights recently marked its third year on the air, and the third anniversary of the website's launch is just around the corner...

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The 1942 Recording Ban and Today

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My jazz-DJ colleague <Joe Bourne noted yesterday that it was the 65th anniversary of the American Federation of Musicians recording ban, which began on Aug. 1, 1942 and didn't completely end until major labels Columbia and Victor came to terms with the union in late 1944. (Decca, the other of the "Big Three" during...

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"No one sets out to be a smooth jazz musician..."

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I've drifted away from reading the satirical newsweekly The Onion in recent years, but there's a good piece making the Internet rounds this week. Laughing to keep from crying, no doubt:

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Mingus Mingus Mingus (and Some Pepper too)

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The new Charles Mingus/Eric Dolphy release from Blue Note, Cornell 1964, arrived at the station last week. Along with the recent reissue of the little-known 1970 Complete America Session and last year's ragged but vital At UCLA 1965 (aka Music Written for Monterey, 1965 Not Heard...played in its entirety), it's been a good run lately for Mingus fans. The Monterey and America dates give us glimpses of Mingus from a period...

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That Devilin' Tune Pt. 2

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Compilations are usually anathema to jazz connoisseurs, aficionados, and like-minded fanatics. But the sheer scope of the Allen Lowe's Devilin' Tune project puts it safely out of such realms, and longtime listeners who have undoubtedly heard a number of these tracks before may find unexpected pleasure (one of many) in Lowe's smart sequencing.

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Emily Remler, artist sites, and that "issue"

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Several days ago I got a very nice e-mail from the person who runs All Things Emily, a fantastically-detailed site devoted to the late guitarist Emily Remler. She had happened upon the March 2007 Night Lights show "Emily Remler: a Musical Remembrance"</a>, which included an interview with Remler friend and sometime musical associate Robert Jospe. Some clips...

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Jazz pianist Sal Mosca 1927-2007

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I received word this morning from bassist Don Messina that pianist Sal Mosca passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 80. Mosca, whose story as a musician is inevitably linked to teacher/mentor Lennie Tristano, was...

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Back in Black: Jack Kerouac Makes the LOA

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The Library of America to publish The Road Novels. First Philip K. Dick<, now JK... can Burroughs be far behind? I've always had mixed feelings about Kerouac (though The Subterraneans held up...

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Aug/Sept. Blue Note & Concord RVGs

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Jazz fans still commiserate online over the self-imposed suspension of Alan Lankin's Jazzmatazz site, which provided an in-depth, wide-ranging rundown of forthcoming jazz releases. All About Jazz maintains a new-release page, as does Jazzitude; if readers are aware of any...

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Like Sonny: the Story of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane

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Jazz documentarian Bret Primack has made a short film about the musical relationship of tenor saxophone greats Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane that includes interviews with Rollins and Jimmy Heath, as well as footage...

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Hank Jones on NPR

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Pianist Hank Jones on NPR's All Things Considered. (There's more...

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Mal Waldron/Woody Shaw 1984

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Ubu Roi has posted a very tasty 1984 concert by the Mal Waldron Quintet, featuring Waldron on piano, Woody Shaw on trumpet, Charlie Rouse...

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When Betty Met The Duke: Betty Roche

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"Betty Roche was an unforgettable singer," Duke Ellington wrote of his former vocalist in 1973. "She never sounded like anybody but Betty Roche." Roche, the so-called "blues specialist" whom some consider to be one of the best vocalists Ellington ever had replaced the popular Ivie Anderson in Ellington’s band in late 1942.

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A.K. Salim

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A good post from Doug Ramsey's Rifftides blog about composer/arranger A.K. Salim, a rather mysterious figure from the 1950s/60s jazz world who's intrigued me ever since I came across a used copy of his Savoy album Blues Suite...

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David Baker this Monday night

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For south-central Indiana readers of the blog: David Baker will be leading the Festival Jazz Orchestra, a top-flight group of IU jazz faculty &amp; students, in performance Monday evening. To hear Baker in some classic small-group sessions...

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Makin' the Changes

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No, this isn't about Jackie McLean's Prestige years, though one of these days we're going to do a show on that very topic. Night Lights recently marked its third year on the air, and the third anniversary of the website's launch is just around the corner...

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Bud Powell in Paris

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Just ahead of this weekend's Bastille Day salute to the expatriate African-American jazz community-more video of Bud Powell in Paris:

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When Taylor Met Braxton

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A meeting of gigantic musical minds, from one who was there.

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Henry Grimes, poet

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Back in the early 1990s, when I was in the first throes of becoming a passionate jazzhead, a friend made me a mix tape called "Henry Grimes, Where Are You?" He knew of my obsession with the missing bassist, who appeared on many classic 1960s jazz recordings and worked with everybody from Benny Goodman and Gerry Mulligan to Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler before vanishing in the late 1960s-presumably dead, according...

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Paris Noir: African-American Jazz Musicians In France

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In the years following World War II, a number of African-American jazz musicians took up residence in France, inspired by the relative lack of racism, the working opportunities, and the appreciation that French audiences showed for their art. Jazz greats spent long periods of time on the European continent.

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Remembrance of the Antique Past

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David Sedaris in the New Yorker on his youthful longing for things from before his time. (I could swear that Douglas Coupland coined a term for this in Generation X, but a quick perusal of several online lexicons didn't turn it up.)As a jazz fan, I think it's easy to be nostalgic, in whatever manner...

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Hank Mobley: 77 on 07-07-07

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As some posters at Organissimo have noted, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, if still alive, would have turned 77 today-on 07/07/07, that lucky date of destiny. Maybe Mobley, the so-called "middleweight champion" of his instrument, will posthumously reap the good fortune that eluded him in his lifetime. At least the tenor saxophonist, like fellow Blue Note recording artist...

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Jazz Messenger

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Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami on his introduction to jazz and what it meant to him. (If you're interested in jazz and post-WWII Japan, check out...

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That Devilin' Tune Pt. 1

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A few years ago writer Joe Milazzo hipped me to a sort of underground jazz history-That Devilin' Tune, written by musician Allen Lowe. An impassioned, non-canonical, and smartly written work, it makes the case for many musicians who've been left by the wayside on the lost highway of American music. So many jazz histories telescope...

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Late Pee Wee: Pee Wee Russell In The 1960s

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Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell's career on record stretched all the way from the 1920s, when he played with musicians such as Jack Teagarden and Bix Beiderbecke, to the 1960s, when he appeared with Thelonious Monk at Newport and made albums that included compositions by modernists such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. Although he was pegged as being Dixieland by some and trumpeted as an elder hero of the 60s avant-garde by others, Russell remained a school unto himself...

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Lennie Tristano Quintet 1964 on film

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In lieu of the proverbial time machine that could take us back to 52nd Street circa 1950, or the Plugged Nickel circa 1968, there's always YouTube. Recently videos of the Lennie Tristano Quintet performing Subconscious-Lee, 317 E. 32nd St., and Background Music at New York City's Half Note club in 1964 have been posted. This was-if I'm not mistaken-one of the last times that alto saxophonist Lee Konitz performed with Tristano, and tenor great Warne Marsh was there as well.

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New DVD releases from Jazz Icons

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The very cool Jazz Icons DVD series has announced the release of seven more titles, including concerts by Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Dave Brubeck, and Charles Mingus.

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Willis Conover: new biography of the VOA jazz DJ

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Terence Ripmaster has published a new biography of longtime Voice of America jazz DJ Willis Conover. Conover's broadcasts were heard around the world (though not in America, due to Congressional restrictions) and brought jazz into Eastern bloc countries where...

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The Nocturne Records Story

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In the early 1950s musicians Roy Harte and Harry Babasin, eager to document the ascending West Coast jazz scene, started a Los Angeles label called Nocturne Records. Babasin and Harte said they wanted to "broaden the nation's views of our activities out here in Hollywood...

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Sonny Rollins returning to Carnegie to record new CD

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Remember all the hoopla (well-deserved) a couple years back over the 1957 Voice of America concert that featured John Coltrane with Thelonious Monk? It came out on CD via Blue Note (rather quickly, as things go in the oft-difficult world of jazz reissues and estate rights) to much acclaim, and it still...

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Perfectly Frank: Sinatra's Small-Group Jazz Recordings

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It was a longstanding disappointment with Frank Sinatra's fans that he didn't do more small-group jazz recordings. This week on Night Lights we present some of the ones that he did do, including...

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Andrew!

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Andrew Hill, who died at the age of 75 on April 20, 2007, was a highly original pianist and composer who recorded a string of stunning albums for Blue Note in the short span of eight months, constructing his own musical universe, much like Blue Note predecessors Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. His compositions, which employed...

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Full Nelson: Oliver Nelson's 1960s Big-Band Recordings

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"Full Nelson" looks at the 1960s studio big-band recordings of saxophonist, arranger, and composer Oliver Nelson, who would have turned 75 on June 4, 2007. Nelson is best-known in the jazz world for his small-group Impulse LP.

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The James Dean Story

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In 1957 a young Robert Altman (future director of Nashville, MASH, and The Player) co-directed a documentary about James Dean, with a soundtrack written by Leith Stevens (who also scored The Wild One...

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Jivin' With the DJs: Jazz Tributes

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In the 1940s and 1950s the jazz format emerged on radio, and with it a number of colorful, laidback on-air personalities who helped disseminate the new sounds of bebop and early R &amp; B. In response, musicians sometimes wrote and recorded tributes to these DJs.

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Jackie McLean And Lee Morgan: The Dynamic Hardbop Duo

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Jazz writer David Rosenthal called Jackie McLean and Lee Morgan "a frontline match made in hardbop heaven."

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Sonny Rollins: Live In London

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It's been a long-standing paradigm in the Sonny Rollins story that his live recordings, particularly from the 1960s on, reflect a more adventurous and exciting performer than do his studio albums.

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Bop! Go the Big Bands

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As the swing era gave way to new and challenging sounds, a generation of bandleaders was forced to take notice.

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Slide At 75: Slide Hampton

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On "Slide at 75" we celebrate a landmark birthday of trombonist, composer, and arranger Slide Hampton. Hampton, like fellow trombonists J.J. Johnson and David Baker, emerged from the Indianapolis jazz scene of the 1940s and early 1950s, playing with his prolifically talented family's band before going on the road with Buddy Johnson, Lionel Hampton, and Maynard Ferguson...

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Later: Bobby Hutcherson In The Mid-1970s

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During the mid-1970s Hutcherson was able to maintain and lead a strong working group, and to also bring in talented colleagues for studio dates;

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Emily Remler: A Musical Remembrance

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Emily Remler was a brilliant guitarist, at ease in musical idioms from Brazilian to bop. She passed away just as she was entering the prime of her career.

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Here Comes The Sun: Nina Simone On RCA

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In late 1966 the fiercely individualistic singer and pianist Nina Simone signed with RCA Records and continued her genre-bending explorations of jazz, blues, pop, folk, and soul, recording songs such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "The Look of Love," Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," and occasional standards.

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The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm

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The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, considered today to be the most renowned of the 1940s "all-girl" bands, emerged in the late 1930s from the Piney Woods School, a foster-child institution for African-American children in Mississippi.

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Miss Peggy Lee, Songwriter

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Many listeners know Peggy Lee as a great jazz singer, but she was also a prolific writer of songs—composing or co-composing nearly 200 of them, including hits such as “I Don’t Know Enough About You” and “Manana” as well as lesser-known gems like “That Ol’ Devil Won’t Get Me” and “There’ll Be Another Spring.”

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Alice Coltrane, Ascending

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John Coltrane's wife was a musician in her own right. What artistic path did she take after her husband passed away in 1967?

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One More You Wrote Through Us: Horace Tapscott

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In 1961 pianist Horace Tapscott turned down a chance to have a high-profile career with the Lionel Hampton band and spent the next several decades in Los Angeles, leading community-jazz bands and doing his best to extend the mentoring and teaching tradition that he had experienced growing up during the glory days of L.A.'s Central Avenue era.

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Come On Down To Central Avenue: Jazz In Mid-20th Century L.A.

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In this program we explore the sounds of the mid-20th-century Los Angeles jazz scene with historian Steve Isoardi. Jam sessions, bebop, r and b, big bands, visits from Hollywood celebrities-as the center of African-American culture in L.A., Central Avenue had it all.

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Soulful Days: The Cal Massey Songbook

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Trumpeter Cal Massey was an African-American jazz composer, little-known now and in his lifetime, but whose work was recorded by musicians such as John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Parker, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, and Archie Shepp.

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We Shall Overcome: Civil-Rights Jazz

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There was a strong relationship between jazz and civil rights in 20th-century America; musicians and many critics as well were advocates for equal rights for African-Americans, and jazz provided a cultural bridge between blacks and whites that helped to work as a force for integration.

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Return To Blue Note: Tony Williams In The Late 1980s

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Tony Williams was renowned as one of the great drummers of jazz. His late-1980s acoustic quintet highlights his compositional skills as well.

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The Best Tenor You Never Heard: J.R. Monterose

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J.R. Monterose is a saxophonist rarely heard even by jazz fans, and his most well-known recording is one that Monterose himself later all but disowned. He recorded only sporadically as a leader and withdrew from the jazz world several times, woodshedding or playing in towns distant from the music's metropolitan centers.

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Resolution: Jazz From Rehab

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Jazz and recovery meet on two unique early-1960s albums made by guitarist Joe Pass and pianist Elmo Hope.

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The Night Lights Before Christmas

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Our annual holiday program, with cool yule jazz from Mal Waldron, Elvin Jones, Bill Evans and Jim Hall, Booker Ervin, Coleman Hawkins, surprise holiday sounds, and a special Christmas reading from Louis Armstrong.

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More With Four: Jazz And String Quartets

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What happens when a jazz artist meets a string quartet? Find out with Artie Shaw, Lee Konitz, Andrew Hill and Max Roach on "More With Four."

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The Arrival Of Victor Feldman

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How a 1950s British jazz star ended up as a West Coast leader and sideman, playing with Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and others.

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Don Ellis And The French Connection

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The French Connection was a crime drama was based on a real-life early-1960s New York City investigation that resulted in what was, at that time, the largest heroin bust ever in the United States. The film, starring Gene Hackman and Roy Schneider as characters modeled on narcotics officers was a box-office smash and won five Academy Awards.

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Mary Lou Williams' Zodiac Suite

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In 1945 pianist, composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams debuted her first extended work, The Zodiac Suite, with musical movements for each sign of the zodiac. Williams was 35 years old, already a veteran of the swing era; she was playing regularly at New York City's Cafe Society, hosting a weekly radio program, and had begun...

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The Avant-Garde Plays The Great American Songbook

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The jazz pioneers of the 1960s-artists such as Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and others-all came up in the entertainment world of the 1940s and 50s, when what we know now as the Great American Songbook was taking hold in the musical canon.

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Down At The 90th Floor: Dick And Kiz Harp

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Dick and Kiz Harp were a husband-and-wife, piano-and-vocals duo who ran their own nightclub (converted from a warehouse and called "The 90th Floor," after a lesser-known Cole Porter song they performed) in Dallas, Texas at the end of the 1950s. They've developed a cult following among jazz-vocal aficionados ...

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Away From The Spaceways: John Gilmore

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Tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, who influenced John Coltrane and helped to pioneer the challenging techniques of 1960s avant-garde saxophone, spent most of his career with Sun Ra and his Arkestra, recording outside of Sun Ra’s band on only a handful of occasions.

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Jazz Workshops: George Russell And Hal McKusick

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This edition of Night Lights features the Jazz Workshops, progressive 1950s jazz recorded by pianist/composer/theorist George Russell and saxophonist Hal McKusick. The RCA Victor Jazz Workshop series, begun by A and R man Jack Lewis, was in some respects...

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Red Trane: The Collaborations Of John Coltrane And Red Garland

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John Coltrane and pianist Red Garland, who both worked in Eddie Cleanhead Vinson’s late-1940s group, began playing together again in 1955 as part of Miles Davis’ quintet

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Jazz Goes Disney

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Music has been an important part of the Disney formula ever since the studio began making films in the late 1920s, and the enormous success of the so-called "Magic Kingdom" has pushed many of its movie songs to the...

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Ain't He Funky Now: Grant Green In The Early 1970s

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Green's turn-of-the-decade recordings filtered the new sounds of the late 1960s through jazz guitar.

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It Came From Texas

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It's one of the biggest states in the Union, and throughout the 20th century it was a wellspring of musical vitality, producing artists such as Ornette Coleman, Scott Joplin, Hot Lips Page, and Jimmy Giuffre.

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When Russell Met Baker

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In the summer of 1959 a 27-year-old David Baker and several bandmates from Indianapolis attended the Lenox School of Music...

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Hip Parade: Early Mark Murphy

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Perennially-hip jazz singer Mark Murphy got his start recording for Decca in the mid-1950s, with albums that featured arrangements by Ralph Burns. Decca producer Milt Gabler, who signed Murphy, said he thought the vocalist "every bit as good as...

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Jazz Advance: Early Cecil Taylor

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Delving into the first records of an avant-garde giant.

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Porgy & Bess: The 1950s Jazz Revival

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George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess met with only middling success when it debuted in 1935, but stagings in the 1940s and 1950s ensured its place in musical history. With Hollywood poised to make...

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Do It Again: Jazz Remakes

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Jazz artists have occasionally revisited albums years or decades after their original release, sometimes rerecording them in their entirety. This show features second-time-around treatments from vocalist Helen Merrill and arranger Gil Evans, saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Mal Waldron, Duke Ellington and June Christy.

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Nat King Cole's St. Louis Blues

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A so-called “biopic” of the blues composer W.C. Handy’s life, this 1958 movie was Cole’s only role as a leading man, and it also included Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, and Eartha Kitt in its all-black cast, along with the underrated Juano Hernandez as Handy’s father.

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Strange City: The Secret Music Of Herbie Nichols

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When pianist Herbie Nichols died of leukemia at the age of 44 in 1963, he left behind dozens of unrecorded compositions. Some of them were entrusted to friend and trombonist Roswell Rudd, while others remained undiscovered for decades, until the efforts...

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Jazz Cameos

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Even if you don't usually listen to jazz, chances are that you've heard Sonny Rollins, Phil Woods, Zoot Sims, Hugh Masekela, Chet Baker, and other jazz luminaries... did you know that it was Rollins soloing on the Rolling Stones' "I'm Just Waiting on a Friend"?...

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The Lighthouse All-Stars

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Exploring a musical cornerstone of the 1950s West Coast jazz movement.

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Detour Ahead: Mary Ann McCall

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Mary Ann McCall, whom Johnny Mandel once called "the greatest of all the big band singers," is a secret heroine of American jazz vocal music. Little-known today, and not widely recorded during even the most active periods of her career, she has sometimes...

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Turn Out The Stars II: Jazz Elegies

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Jazz compositions in remembrance of musicians who have passed.

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The Subterraneans: Putting Beats And Jazz On The Big Screen

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This 1960 movie is the only film adaptation of a Jack Kerouac novel to date, employing a jazz score and Gerry Mulligan as a hip, saxophone-playing priest.

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Songs Of Peace

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This week on Night Lights it's "Songs of Peace." We'll hear instrumental themes using "Peace" as a title from John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Horace Silver, as well as Louis Armstrong's 1970 take on John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," Bill Evans' improvisation on Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time" that came to be known as "Peace Piece," Mahalia Jackson's a capella version of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," and more.

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We'll Keep Loving You: Jackie McLean

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A special tribute to the late alto saxophonist, Jackie McLean, who passed away on Friday, March 31, 2006.

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The Late Miss D: Dinah Washington On Roulette, 1962-63

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"The Late Miss D" features the 1962-63 Roulette recordings of Dinah Washington, who died at the age of 38 in 1963. Washington's Roulette period offers a mix of ballads with strings, blues, pop, and big-band jazz. Often overshadowed by her Mercury years, her final recordings show her maintaining the same high standards of soulful performance.

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You Better Go Now: Jeri Southern

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Pianist and torch-jazz singer Jeri Southern recorded half a dozen albums for Decca in the 1950s, scoring hits with songs such as "When I Fall in Love," "Joey," and "You Better Go Now." Her intimate, near-speaking approach to vocals...

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Ghosts Of Yesterday: Billie Holiday And The Two Irenes

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An iconic singer, a songwriter (or two) named Irene, lost love and inspiration, and a history-mystery of identity.

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Black Vocal Harmony Groups Of The 1930s And 1940s

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In the decades before doo-wop, soul, and rock ‘n roll, there was an explosion of African-American singing ensembles that paved the way for the later styles.

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Gigi Gryce, Part 2: Rat Race Blues

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What happened to saxophonist, composer, and music-publishing pioneer Gigi Gryce? Gryce co-biographer Michael Fitzgerald joins us again this week for the answer.

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Gigi Gryce, Part 1: Social Call

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Gryce was a comrade and equal to some of the greatest names in jazz in the 1950s.

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Say It Loud: Black-Pride Soul Jazz

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Music by Lou Donaldson, Gil Scott-Heron, Freddie Roach, Jackie McLean, and others.

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Piano Noir: Ran Blake

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This week on Night Lights it's "Piano Noir: Ran Blake". Pianist and composer Ran Blake has earned an international reputation with his recordings and with his work as a Third Stream educator at the New England Conservatory of Music. His music has been strongly influenced by the genre of film noir; in this...

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Charlies Tolliver On Strata East In The Early 1970s

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In the early 1970s, as recording opportunities for more adventurous hard-bop musicians dried up, trumpeter Charles Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell started their own label, Strata East, partly in order to document the activities of their quartet Music Inc. The aesthetic results were in some ways an extension of...

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Dear Martin: Jazz Tributes To Martin Luther King Jr.

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King was a jazz fan, and eloquently expressed his admiration for the music; numerous jazz musicians repaid the compliment.

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Java Jive: Jazz Coffee Songs

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On this edition of Night Lights it's "Java Jive: Jazz Coffee Songs," a caffeinated brew of music to help keep your weekend warm. The program includes classics such as Sarah Vaughan's "Black Coffee" (as well as Sonny Criss' mid-1960s instrumental version) and obscurities such as the Larks' "Coffee, Cigarettes and Tears," in addition to Jeri Southern's "Coffee, Cigarettes and Memories"...

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The New Year's Eve Jam

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This week on Night Lights it's "The New Year's Eve Jam," with music from Slim Gaillard, Harry the Hipster Gibson, Charlie Parker, Big John Patton, and more.

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The Night Before Christmas

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This week on Night Lights it’s “The Night Before Christmas,” with Christmas-Eve jazz from Fats Navarro, Dexter Gordon, Louis Armstrong, Duke Pearson, Frank Sinatra, and more. “The Night Before Christmas” airs at 11:05 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, on WFIU.

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Not Afraid To Live: Frank Hewitt

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The best pianist you never heard: the story and posthumous musical legacy of Frank Hewitt.

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Now Found: Henry Grimes

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Bassist Henry Grimes played with everybody from Benny Goodman to Albert Ayler and appeared on some of the 1960s' most significant jazz recordings before vanishing for more than 30 years. Long rumored to be dead, he was discovered living in Los Angeles in 2002. William Parker, a bassist who'd been strongly influenced by Grimes' work, donated an instrument to Grimes, who began to play again...

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Another Holiday

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Baritone singer Johnny Holiday performed with some big bands in the 1940s (including a brief stint filling in for Johnny Desmond in the 1945 edition of the Glenn Miller Orchestra) and went on to release several albums in the 1950s, two of them made with West Coast jazz musicians, that received good notices but failed to sell well. Holiday spent the next few...

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Homecoming: Dexter Gordon In The Late 1970s

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In the late 1970s tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon returned to the United States after a fourteen-year-long sojourn in Europe; a series of wildly successful gigs and a new contract with Columbia Records persuaded him to stay. We'll hear music from the live double-album Homecoming, as well as...

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Moodsville 1

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Jazz for jazz-loving lovers: the first of a series of shows looking at the Moodsville releases.

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Duke Ellington: Money Jungle

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In the autumn of 1962 three jazz giants-Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach-met for an album session that has become legendary. (So legendary, in fact, that it's inspired an audio storyboard). Years later, Roach observed...

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The Victor Young Songbook

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Composer and film scorer Victor Young received more than 20 Oscar nominations for his film work, and he authored some of the most frequently heard melodies in the jazz canon.

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The Man Before Miles: Freddie Webster

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Trumpeter Freddie Webster is one of the great lost-legend stories of jazz, significant because he influenced both Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, little-known because he recorded only a few scattered solos and because he died at the age of 30 in 1947.

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Sonnymoon: Thelonious Monk And Sonny Rollins

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When Rollins met Monk: the saxophonist was a hip, humorous, and musically expert foil for the brilliant corners of the pianist's mind.

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At The Birth Of Bop

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Several years ago an amazing audio find came to light-a June 1945 Town Hall concert in New York City featuring Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach-the rising stars of the then-revolutionary new music bebop-accompanied by Al Haig on piano and Curley Russell on bass. The performance, captured in sound that's stellar by the era's standards...

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Count Basie: The 1950 Octet And Combo

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In January of 1950, beleagured by the business woes that had afflicted so many other big bands around this time, Count Basie broke up the orchestra that he had been leading for 14 years. The small group that he formed in its wake featured younger, bop-oriented musicians such as tenor saxophonist Wardell Grey, baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff, and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco.

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Alexandria The Great

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This week on Night Lights it's "Alexandria the Great," a program devoted to the late 1950s and early 1960s recordings of the little-known singer Lorez Alexandria, who left a Chicago gospel background behind for the world of jazz, recording with Ramsey Lewis, Wynton Kelly, and others. Often compared to Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, Alexandria also liked to...

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Jazz Studio 5 And 6: Ralph Burns And David Amram

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This week on Night Lights we'll feature the fifth and sixth volumes of Decca's 1950s Jazz Studio series-the label's West Coast-influenced answer to Norman Granz's Verve jam session releases. V. 5, led by pianist and arranger Ralph Burns, includes trumpeter Joe Newman and little-known alto saxophonist Dave Schildkraut, who was once mistaken...

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Late Lee: Lee Morgan In The Early 1970s

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In the early 1970s trumpeter Lee Morgan was striking out in new directions, incorporating elements of modality, free jazz, and fusion into his music. Tragically, his life and career were cut short when he was shot to death at the age of 33 by his longtime lover in a New York City jazz bar. We'll hear music from Morgan's final...

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Teddy Charles: The Early Avant-Garde

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In the early 1950s vibraphonist Teddy Charles made a series of records with Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and others, that still escapes easy definition today-was it Third Stream? Was it West Coast? Was it cool jazz? We'll hear selections from his albums...

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For Lady: Early Tribute LPs To Billie Holiday

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Although there had been tribute LPs to other artists before Billie Holiday-Bix Beiderbecke and Fats Waller among them-the concept really took off in the two years before and after Holiday's death in 1959, as six albums dedicated to the iconic singer...

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Duets: Two Degrees Of Separation

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On this edition of Night Lights we'll hear duets from Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron, Mal Waldron and Jeanne Lee, Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake, Ran Blake and Anthony Braxton, Anthony Braxton and Max Roach, and Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie.

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Jazz Studio 3 And 4: John Graas And Jack Millman

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This week on Night Lights it's "Jazz Studio 3 &amp; 4: John Graas and Jack Millman," two more entries in Decca's mid-1950s Jazz Studio series. John Graas was a classically-trained French horn player who worked with several famous big bands in the 1940s and who studied with both Lennie Tristano and West Coast music guru Wesley La Violette. In the 1950s he...

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Decca Jazz Studio 1 And 2

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In the early 1950s Decca responded to Clef/Verve jazz impresario Norman Granz's Jam Sessions releases with a series of "Jazz Studio" titles. We'll hear "Tenderly" from Jazz Studio 1, which featured lengthy numbers much in the manner of the Granz records; soloists include tenor saxophonists Frank Foster and Paul Quinichette (aka "the Vice-Prez," so called for the...

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But I Was Cool: Oscar Brown, Jr.

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This week on Night Lights we honor the memory of singer-songwriter and activist Oscar Brown Jr., who died on Sunday, May 29 at the age of 78. Brown, the son of a well-to-do South Side Chicago businessman, participated in the labor movement and progressive politics of the 1950s before trying his hand at composing and performing...

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Turn Out The Stars: Jazz Elegies

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Sometimes when a great jazz musician dies, another jazz musician writes a musical tribute. On this Memorial Day weekend edition of Night Lights we'll hear elegies for Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Sonny Clark, Clifford Brown, Billie Holiday and more, from artists such as Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans...

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Fragments: The Late 1960s Blue Note Recordings Of Andrew Hill

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Pianist and composer Andrew Hill burst onto the jazz scene in the early 1960s with classic albums such as Black Fire and Point of Departure on the Blue Note label. Hill continued recording for the label throughout the 1960s, but many of the sessions went unreleased. After listening to the tapes last year with Mosaic producer Michael Cuscuna, Hill...

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Jazz Goes To The Cold War

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"Jazz Goes to the Cold War" takes a look at the U.S. State Department's sponsorship of international jazz tours during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1956, as both the Cold War and the civil-rights movement heated up, the American government asked Dizzy Gillespie to assemble a new big band to promote the image of American freedom around the globe.

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Let's Spring One

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This edition of Night Lights is a salute to warmer weather with "Let's Spring One," including music from Ike Quebec, Thelonious Monk &amp; Milt Jackson, Anita O'Day, Nat King Cole, Charlie Parker, June Christy...

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The Art Of Pepper: Art Pepper's Aladdin Recordings

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In the mid-1950s Art Pepper had already served two prison terms on narcotics charges and was struggling to re-ignite the promising solo career he'd started several years earlier after leaving Stan Kenton's orchestra. 1956 was a spectacular year for Pepper, and the recordings he did for the Aladdin label, featuring West Coast greats such as...

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Music For Peace: The Sacred Jazz Of Mary Lou Williams

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Mary Lou Williams, the pianist, arranger, and composer whose career in jazz traced a line all the way from the Kansas City scene of the late 1920s through the swing era, bop, the 1950s jazz expatriate community, and an academic job at Duke in the late 1970s, also helped to pioneer sacred jazz in...

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Why Don't You Do Right: Una Mae Carlisle And Lil Green

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Una Mae Carlisle and Lil Green both were popular jazz-and-blues singer-songwriters in the 1940s; both spawned hits for Peggy Lee; and both are largely forgotten today. Carlisle, a teenage piano-playing protege of Fats Waller, wrote and recorded the hits...

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Even White Girls Get The Blues

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"Even White Girls Get the Blues" is a look at three late-1950s blues-concept LPs by white female vocalists. Selections are included from Lee Wiley's 1957 RCA album A Touch of the Blues (backed by Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra), Julie London's 1957 "blues noir" LP About the Blues, and Jo Stafford's 1959 concept record...

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Word From Mingus

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On this edition of Night Lights it's "Word From Mingus," a program of Charles Mingus' 1950s spoken-word collaborations with poet Langston Hughes, monologuist Jean Shepherd, and actor Melvin Stewart. We'll also hear Mingus' own performance of his piece "Chill of Death," written when Mingus was...

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Meet The Jazztet

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On this edition of Night Lights it's "Meet the Jazztet," a program of recordings taken from the recent Mosaic collection of Benny Golson and Art Farmer's work for the Argo and Mercury labels between 1960 and 1962. Some of the players who passed through the Jazztet included McCoy Tyner, Harold Mabern, Cedar Walton...

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Strictly Romantic

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A program of jazz ballads featuring John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman, Nina Simone, and more.

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Boppin' In Beantown

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A look at the late-1940s and early-1950s Boston jazz scene.

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Songs Everlasting: The Don Pullen-George Adams Quartet

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Not long after bassist Charles Mingus' death in 1979, three men who had played frequently with him throughout the 1970s-pianist Don Pullen, tenor saxophonist George Adams, and drummer Dannie Richmond-began a group of their own, adding bassist Cameron Brown.

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Miles Davis: The Jack Johnson Sessions

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Ken Burns' new documentary about Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion, is not the first film about the boxer; in 1970 William Cayton made a documentary as well, with a soundtrack by Miles Davis. This edition of Night Lights features music taken from the Sony/Legacy box-set MILES DAVIS: THE COMPLETE JACK JOHNSON...

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Young Chet: Trumpet And Vocals

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Several recent Pacific Jazz re-issues of Chet Baker are the focus of this edition of Night Lights, including Chet Baker Ensemble, Chet Baker Sextet, and Chet Baker Sings and Plays. These recordings were all done between 1953 and 1955, when Baker's star was ascending and he was relatively untroubled by...

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Holy Ghost: Albert Ayler

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Jazz writer Dan Morgenstern once compared the sound of tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler's 1960s avant-garde groups to "a Salvation Army marching band on LSD." <em>Holy Ghost</em>, a new 9-CD collection of previously-unreleased live and studio recordings from <a href="http://www.ayler.org/albert/">Albert Ayler</a>, is the...

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Holiday Happening

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The first-ever Night Lights Christmas program features music from Booker Ervin ("White Christmas" from his 1966 album Solid Structure), Ahmad Jamal ("Snowfall," written by Terre Haute, Indiana native Claude Thornhill), Sonny Rollins ("Winter Wonderland"), Babs Gonzalez ("Bebop Santa Claus"), Bill Evans (a rare and amusing vocal take...

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The Wild One

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The Wild One, Marlon Brando's 1953 motorcycle-gang movie, was based on a real-life 1947 incident in which thousands of bikers, many of them blue-collar World War II vets from Los Angeles, descended upon a northern California town and frightened its inhabitants...

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Jazz Workshops: Charles Mingus And John Carisi

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"The Jazz Workshops Part 2" is another in an ongoing series of occasional Night Lights episodes about progressive/collective jazz recordings in the 1950s. This program features music from Charles Mingus' 1954 Savoy LP The Jazz Composers Workshop, a recording...

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The Hawk Heads Home

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The Hawk Heads Home: Coleman Hawkins in the Early 1960s" was broadcast in honor of the Hawkins centenary on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004. The early 1960s were Hawkins' last great period, and this program features music from his Today and Now lp, his bossa nova effort (Desafinado), and his collaborations with Duke Ellington...

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Strange Enchantment: Jazz For Halloween

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"Strange Enchantment" is a program of Halloween-related jazz, including music from Duke Ellington ("Stalking Monster"), Bill Evans ("Witchcraft"), Kay Starr ("The Headless Horseman"), Rahsaan Roland Kirk ("Haunted Feelings")and a very young Gil Evans with Skinny Ennis ("Strange Enchantment") as well as tracks from...

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The House In The Heart: Lester Young In The 1950s

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Even as his physical health declined throughout the 1950s, tenor saxophonist Lester Young remained capable of moving and beautiful performances. This program includes tracks with pianists John Lewis and Oscar Peterson, a reunion date with Teddy Wilson in 1956, live recordings from December of that year, and Lester Young himself speaking...

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Inception: McCoy Tyner On Impulse

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Pianist McCoy Tyner joined John Coltrane's group at the age of 22 in 1960 and signed with Impulse not long after Coltrane moved to the label in 1961. Over the next four years Tyner would record seven albums as a leader for Impulse, most often in the trio format that was seen as being both commercially favorable and a chance to showcase him in a setting different from the Coltrane quartet. Though Tyner's playing on these records is considered...

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Early Baron: Charles Mingus 1945-49

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This week on Night Lights we feature the early music of Charles Mingus, taken from an Uptown Records CD entitled "Charles 'Baron' Mingus: West Coast Recordings, 1945-49." Musicologist Stefano Zenni has an interesting website devoted to this little-heard period of Mingus' music, which includes jump blues, Ellingtonian ballads...

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Bird Alive: Charlie Parker

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As the messiah of modern bop, Charlie Parker was one of the first jazz musicians to be recorded widely in live settings. On this program, in honor of the 84th anniversary of his birth, we'll feature music from Bird's performances with Bud Powell, Fats Navarro, Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes, and other leading lights of late-1940s and early-1950s jazz, including an impromptu "Well You Needn't" with Thelonious...

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Destination Out: Grachan Moncur And Jackie McLean

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In December 1962 Jackie McLean went to play a gig in Boston with a local rhythm section. That local section included a 17-year-old drummer named Tony Williams, who would return with McLean to New York a week later to begin a phenomenal career that would include a long stint with Miles Davis' 1960s quintet. McLean also joined forces with Grachan Moncur, a trombonist who had played with both the Jazztet and Ray Charles...

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A Brief Convergence: Miles Davis And Sam Rivers In 1964

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In 1964 Miles Davis had a new rhythm section in place-Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums-but he was still searching for a tenor saxophonist. Since John Coltrane's departure in 1960, Miles had gone through Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Jimmy Heath, and George Coleman; he really wanted Wayne Shorter, but Shorter was...

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The Day Lady Died: Billie Holiday

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Billie Holiday died in New York City at 3 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 1959-45 years to the day of this broadcast. In addition to Holiday's music-"Don't Worry 'Bout Me," from her little-known last album BILLIE HOLIDAY (recorded after LADY IN SATIN), "This Year's Kisses" (with Lester Young), the vibrant early side "Life Begins When You're in Love," a moodier &amp; spookier alternate take of her Decca recording "No More," and other...

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Charlie Parker's Favorite Singer: Jackie Paris

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Jackie Paris, who died last month at the age of 79, was a favorite of Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, and Lenny Bruce, but he remained in semi-obscurity for most of his career. He recorded the first-ever vocal version of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" in 1949, collaborated several times with Mingus, and made LPs for Brunswick (Skylark) and Impulse (The Song Is Paris) that became...

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Let Freedom Ring

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Night Lights' pilot program that aired on the eve of 2004's July 4th holiday, featuring music from Jackie McLean, Charles Mingus, Avery Parrish, Nina Simone...

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The Jazz Standard Relative Of J.D. Salinger's Glass Family, With A Dash Of Casablanca

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The Jazz Standard Relative Of J.D. Salinger's Glass Family, With A Dash Of Casablanca

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2019

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Best Historical Jazz Releases 2019

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