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 our annual fund-drive-the one time a year that WFIU asks you to support Night Lights and to ensure that weekend jazz programming continues on WFIU.
We'll be offering all of the above CDs as premiums when you make a pledge at the $90 or higher level, and we have other great premiums as well-the new book ASK ME NOW: CONVERSATIONS ON JAZZ AND LITERATURE, the HOWLS, RAPS AND ROARS spoken-word box-set, and a beautiful photograph of jazz great Benny Golson, composer of jazz classics such as "I Remember Clifford" and "Along Came Betty," signed by the musician himself. But that's not why I'm asking you to call between 11 and midnight EST Saturday for Night Lights; I'm asking you to call (1-800-662-3311) or to pledge online because:
-Night Lights is a unique historical-jazz program that brings you in-depth portraits of both great and lesser-known artists, as well as interesting convergences of the music with American culture in film and literature, in programs such as Jazz and Jack Kerouac and I Want to Live!
-Night Lights helps to ensure that jazz artists' accomplishments and achievements are being chronicled and celebrated. One of the happiest moments for me as a programmer was recently hearing a phone message that Howard Rumsey, bassist and leader of the 1950s California-based Lighthouse All-Stars, had left for a friend after listening to the Night Lights show about the group. He was amazed and overjoyed that some public radio programmer in Bloomington, Indiana had put together such a program, five decades after the group's heyday.
-Night Lights is available to you for online listening any time, day or night, in the archives on this new website that also brings you jazz news and commentaries.
-This kind of jazz programming has vanished from a large number of NPR stations. WFIU remains committed to carrying it in part because listeners like you have shown so much support for it in the past. Jazz fans tend to be a committed, enthusiastic, and sophisticated group (oh, it's true, we are, we are) and are aware of how much listener support matters when it comes to keeping programs like Night Lights around in an age of ever-increasing chatter and McNews on the airwaves.
I know that I'm very grateful for that support-last year Night Lights raised more than $1,000 in its first fund-drive show, a record-which I've now been instructed to match. And if I do, a corporate challenger will kick in an extra $250 to help us make our fund-drive goal. So I really hope to hear from you, in one way or another-1-800-662-3311 via phone, or via the web, during Night Lights Saturday evening 11 p.m. to midnight EST. Please help me to bring about a great showing for jazz programming on WFIU this year....and good listening to you as always,
David Brent Johnson
P.S. You can support Night Lights any time, year-round, by making a contribution here.