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Noon Edition

Remembrance of the Antique Past

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, for the era that Night Lights covers-and in some ways I am, especially when I talk to those who lived through it and saw many of the performers we play on the show, or when I read accounts of what it was like to see such concerts. On the other hand, it's surely easier now to hear the studio documents those artists left behind; we may have come to the end of the Golden Age of jazz reissues, but enough came out in the past 15 years for many of us to keep listening for the rest of our lives. (Not to mention the, erm, torrent of broadcasts and performances that proliferate the Internet these days.) Anybody armed with a decent credit card can acquire a deep catalogue of jazz history in one online shopping trip. (Acquiring a deep understanding, of course, takes some time... but that's part of the pleasure. Simply assimilating what Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, or Miles Davis had to say alone is a joyously long journey.)

So it's still boon times for a fan of post-World War II jazz. A friend of mine who got into jazz in the 1980s tells me woeful tales about the dearth of classic Blue Note product, the rarity of available titles from some of the most significant names in the history of the music when he first started listening to it. Talk to people who collected 78s back in the 1940s and 50s-they spent years assembling artist libraries that now may well appear on a single CD. What they did have, of course, was much more of a living connection to the music...something that we are losing rapidly in recent years as more and more jazz greats from the 1950s and 60s pass away.

There are many modern (I don't dare say contemporary) jazz artists whom I enjoy, and I play them frequently when I sit in for Joe Bourne on Just You and Me, as well as on my Friday-evening program Afterglow. I live in a town with a thriving live jazz scene, courtesy of the IU School of Music. I think it's not just important, but also pleasurable to support and listen to jazz of today. I have to admit, though, that I have a rather large default button on the CD changer in my brain that often lands on something recorded between 1945 and 1990. This program is evidence enough of that. I only hope that the shows here provide some sort of connection for those who never heard these artists while they were alive, or a reconnection for those who did. I don't want to mythologize these musicians; that's been done enough already (though I'm sure I do it to some degree myself, given the way many of us apprehend jazz... I mean, it's the mythology that helps hook many of us in the first place). I just want to present their music and their stories as best I can in a 59-minute format-and hopefully open doors, or reopen doors, to a greater appreciation and enjoyment of what everybody from Charlie Parker and Joe Mooney to Jackie McLean and Dick and Kiz Harp did. Not to mention Horace Tapscott, Freddie Webster, John Coltrane... it's a long and lovely list. I hope it keeps me busy for years to come.

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