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  1. We had originally scheduled a show devoted to live recordings from Hermosa Beach's Lighthouse Cafe made after the breakup of Howard Rumsey's seminal west-coast jazz group the Lighthouse All-Stars this week on Night Lights. Rumsey passed away last Wednesday at the age of 97, so instead we'll be re-airing a previous Night Lights program that focused on him and the 1950s editions of the Lighthouse All-Stars: The Lighthouse All-Stars
  2. This week on Night Lights it’s “Jazz Advance: Early Cecil Taylor.” Pianist Cecil Taylor is one of the most influential pioneers of late-20th-century improvised music; as author John Litweiler says in his book The Freedom Principle, “One of the running threads in the story of today’s jazz is that so many of the advances first appeared in Cecil Taylor’s music.” Taylor’s musical universe, often perceived by mainstream jazz fans as a challenging, distant place, is thoroughly grounded in the music’s history; and his early influences ran from Dave Brubeck and Lennie Tristano to Horace Silver and Duke Ellington. We’ll hear selections from the 1950s albums that gave birth to Taylor’s career—Jazz Advance, Looking Ahead, Coltrane Time (Taylor’s only meeting on record with John Coltrane), and Love For Sale, along with a performance from the 1957 Newport Festival. “Jazz Advance” airs Saturday, July 29 at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville; Michigan listeners can hear it Sunday evening at 10 p.m EST on Blue Lake Public Radio. The program will be posted Monday afternoon in the Night Lights archives. Next week: "Hip Parade: Early Mark Murphy."
  3. Night Lights website

    Hello all--apologies for the unavailability of the Night Lights website for the past week. The entire Indiana Public Media site (of which Night Lights is a part) was taken offline because of security concerns, and we will be transferring to a new server and way of posting content in the next few days. Previous archived content will eventually migrate to the new site, but only new and recent shows will most likely be online for the time being.
  4. I've put together a list of biographies, historical overviews, and interview/essay collections for the Night Lights site (there's also a list at the bottom of some Night Lights shows that focus on women in jazz). Suggestions for additions welcome: Women In Jazz: A Bibliography
  5. Count Basie and Paul Robeson team up to salute Joe Louis, Gil Scott-Heron pays tribute to Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard delivers a jazz skyhook for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Duke Ellington paints a musical picture of Mahalia Jackson, and more on this recent edition of Night Lights: Portraits In Black: Jazz Tributes To African-American Heroes Coming up this week: "Ready For Freddie Redd."
  6. I did an hour-long telephone interview with Ken Vandermark yesterday, just ahead of his performance with Phil Sudderberg in Bloomington this evening. We covered a lot of ground, and he tells a great story about his first encounter with Anthony Braxton. We'll be broadcasting the interview on "Just You And Me" this afternoon, but you can listen to it in its entirety at the link below: A Conversation With Ken Vandermark
  7. 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. At the end of the decade he went to New York City and became a key member of Charles Mingus’ group, appearing on some of the bassist’s most notable records (including a legendary solo, on tenor sax, on Mingus’ elegy for Lester Young, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” which can be heard on the Night Lights program Turn Out the Stars). Drawing on a wide array of influences such as Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Benny Carter and early Eric Dolphy, he forged his own style as an alto saxophonist, particularly through a flair for playing in the upper register and an unique form of tonguing that created what Metronome described as “a fast, fluttering sound.” In 1965 his unusual quintet, featuring Michael White on violin and Jerry Hahn on guitar, was a huge hit at the Monterey Jazz Festival, landing Handy a recording contract with Columbia Records and vaulting his group into second place behind Miles Davis in a 1966 Downbeat poll. Handy was an early advocate for jazz education and taught for many years at San Francisco State. His musical interests are broad; he has composed works for orchestras and early in his career performed Bartok’s Night Music with classical pianist Leonid Hambro. His interest in world music has led him to collaborate with Indian musicians Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan as well. Handy’s also tasted commercial success–his 1976 R & B-flavored “Hard Work” was a chart-smash single. As a tribute to Handy for his 75th birthday (Feb. 3), Handy With The Horn includes music from the saxophonist’s little-known 1960s Roulette leader dates and his mid-1960s Columbia sides, in addition to a recording made with Mingus in 1959. The program will air this evening at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU, at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville, and at 10 p.m. Sunday evening EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. It will be posted Monday morning for online listening in the Night Lights archives. You can read the transcription of a telephone interview that I did with Handy on the blog page of the website; Part 1 and Part 2 are already up, and I'll be posting the remainder of the interview later today and tomorrow. Special thanks to Organissimo posters Clunky and Felser for their assistance with this program. Photo of John Handy by Mark Sheldon Next week: "Suite History." Extended musical depictions of African-American history by Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson, and John Carter.
  8. This week's Night Lights show takes a look at the role that jazz played in the life of spiritual writer and monk Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain and numerous other books). It includes an interview with jazz musician and Merton friend Dick Sisto, as well as excerpts from recordings that Merton made of himself in his hermitage listening to and commenting on jazz recordings. Organissimo board member and musician Jason Bivins, author of the recent book also talks about the relationship between jazz and religion. The Jazz Monk: Thomas Merton
  9. Hey all, as a supplement to this week's Night Lights show Handy With The Horn, I did a telephone interview last week with alto saxophonist John Handy. Part 1, in which he talks about early encounters with Dexter Gordon and Art Tatum, why he went with the alto over the tenor, and working with bassist Albert Stinson in the late 1960s, is now posted. I'll be posting the rest of the interview on the Night Lights site throughout the rest of this week.
  10. Last week's Night Lights show, which took a look back at reissues and historical releases for 2017, is up for online listening. The web-post includes additional titles not featured in the program: Night Lights Best Of 2017 Historical Jazz Releases
  11. This new Night Lights program aired the week of the 75th anniversary of the first From Spirituals To Swing concert--a December 1938 presentation of jazz, blues, and gospel in New York City's Carnegie Hall. It is now archived for online listening:
  12. This past week's Night Lights show, The David Baker Songbook is now archived for online listening. It includes interviews with jazz educator/composer David Baker and bandleader Brent Wallarab (whose orchestra recorded an entire CD of Baker's music), as well as interpretations of Baker's music by George Russell, Philly Joe and Elvin Jones, the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, Jack Wilson, and Baker himself. Coming up later this week: "A Cool Christmas."
  13. (A special thanks to Son-of-a-Weizen for this week's show; I had mentioned doing a "Classic Quartet Without Coltrane" program, and he proposed a Tyner-on-Impulse idea instead. Also a special thanks to White Lightning, who has posted a link to several archived Night Lights programs in his Israeli jazz forum, and who reports that they've garnered a good response.) This week on Night Lights it's "Inception: the 1960s Impulse Recordings of McCoy Tyner." 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 not to be as adventurous as his performances with Coltrane during the same period, Tyner's style--achieved somewhat by a prominent use of fourth chords, which gave both his and Coltrane's music a more abstract, serious, and spiritual sound--is already quite present. Some albums find him in the company of bandmates Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones (their ILLUMINATION! effort for Impulse, from which we'll hear Tyner's ballad "Oriental Flower"), while LIVE AT NEWPORT features him in a rather impromptu jam with alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and trumpeter Clark Terry. Tyner's last 1960s album for Impulse, PLAYS DUKE ELLINGTON, was recorded the same week that he was in the studio to do A LOVE SUPREME with Coltrane. Tyner left Coltrane's group in December 1965, no longer feeling compatible with the musical direction that Coltrane was taking. He played with Art Blakey for a brief period in 1966 and struggled to remain a fulltime, professional musician. In 1967 he began a remarkable stream of albums for the Blue Note label with THE REAL MCCOY (Mosaic Records keeps hinting that it will eventually release a box of his complete recordings for the label). His Impulse albums, often overlooked in favor of his later Blue Notes and 1970s Milestone LPs, yield an intriguing look at the youth of a modern jazz piano giant. The program airs this Saturday night at 11:10 (9:10 on the West Coast, 12:10 in New York); you can listen live on the web at WFIU; the program will be archived afterwards on the Night Lights website. Coming up in the next two weeks: Oct. 16--"The Jazz Workshops Pt. 1." Progressive 1950s jazz from the RCA Victor label, featuring LPs by George Russell and Hal McKusick. Oct. 23--"The House in the Heart: Lester Young in the 1950s." Late-period Pres from both the Verve label and his 1956 Washington D.C. concerts, along with interview segments from 1958 and 1959 (shortly before his death) and readings from Bobby Scott's essay-memoir about traveling and playing with Young in the last years of his life.
  14. The recent Night Lights tribute to Charlie Haden, "Ramblin' Man," is now archived for online listening: Coming soon: "Time Flies: The Life and Music of Bud Powell, Part 1" with Powell biographer Peter Pullman.
  15. This week on Night Lights it’s “Gigi Gryce, Part 2: Rat Race Blues.” In the late 1950s alto saxophonist and composer/arranger Gigi Gryce began his second music publishing company, as well as a fruitful new alliance with trumpeter Donald Byrd that resulted in half a dozen recordings made under the name of the Jazz Lab. Personal and professional shadows were starting to lengthen, however, and by the early 1960s Gryce had vanished from the jazz world altogether. He spent the last 20 years of his life teaching in the New York City public school system, and his second wife didn’t even know that he had once been a jazz musician. In this program we’ll hear more remarks from Michael Fitzgerald, co-author of the Gryce biography Rat Race Blues, as well as music from Gryce’s work with the Teddy Charles Tentet, Oscar Pettiford’s big band, the Jazz Lab, and Gryce’s last recordings as a leader, including the rarely-heard Reminiscin’. “Gigi Gryce, Part 2: Rat Race Blues” airs Saturday, February 18 at 11:05 p.m. on WFIU. You can listen live or wait until Monday afternoon, when the program will be posted in the Night Lights archives. For more information on Gryce’s life and music, visit Michael Fitzgerald’s website. Next week: "Black Vocal Harmony Groups of the 1940s."
  16. This week on Night Lights it's "Gigi Gryce, Part 1: Social Call." Alto saxophonist, composer, and arranger Gigi Gryce is best remembered today for jazz standards such as "Minority" and "Nica's Tempo," but he made other important contributions that included pioneering self-publishing for musicians. In this, the first of a two-part program, we'll feature some of Gryce's early music, recorded with artists such as Howard McGhee and Clifford Brown, and hear remarks from Gryce co-biographer Mike Fitzgerald (Rat Race Blues). "Social Call" airs Saturday evening at 11:05 (8:05 California time, 10:05 Chicago time) on WFIU; you can listen live, or wait until Monday, when the program will be posted in the Night Lights archives. For more information on Gryce, visit Fitzgerald's website. Next week: "Gigi Gryce, Part 2: Rat Race Blues."
  17. Last week's Night Lights show, with music from Eddie Higgins, the MJT + 3's first LP with Muhal Richard Abrams, Paul Serrano, John Young, Clifford Jordan with John Gilmore, and Ira Sullivan, is now up for online listening: Returning the Call: More From the Unsung Heroes of Chicago Hardbop It's a sequel to an earlier show, Chicago Calling.
  18. For the tenor saxophonist's 70th birthday: This week on Night Lights it's Jazz Flower Power: The Charles Lloyd Quartet, featuring music from Lloyd's mid-1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, along with remarks from Lloyd manager George Avakian. Much more info at the program link above, along with two videos of the Lloyd Quartet performing at Antibes in 1966. "Jazz Flower Power: the Charles Lloyd Quartet" airs Saturday at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU-Bloomington and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville; it also airs Sunday evening at 10 EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. Jazz Flower Power: the Charles Lloyd Quartet will be available for online listening beginning Monday. Next week: "Mary Lou Williams' Zodiac Suite."
  19. Crazy, Jackson, crazy! Night Lights starts off 2016 with Minnie, McVouty, Filthy McNasty, Freddie the Freeloader, Lady MacGowan, and other assorted jazz characters: Hipsters, Flipsters, And On-The-Scenesters Posting soon: "Hope Lives: A Portrait of Elmo Hope."
  20. Part 2 of the Night Lights program devoted to the life and music of Thelonious Monk with special guest Robin D.G. Kelley is up for online listening: Thelonious Monk: From Myth To Man Robin talks about why Monk went over so well at the Five Spot, his musical partnerships with John Coltrane and Charlie Rouse, his time at Columbia Records, his response to the free-jazz and civil-rights movement of the 1960s, his relationships with his wife Nellie and his friend Pannonica (the "Jazz Baroness"), and his late-period recordings and compositions. Here's Part 1 of the program: Thelonious Monk: From Man To Myth Next week: "Portraits of Harlem," featuring some previously unreleased excerpts from 1939 and 1945 broadcasts of James P. Johnson's Harlem Symphony, Duke Ellington's 1963 recording of his Tone Parallel to Harlem, Roy Eldridge's "I Remember Harlem" and much more, including an interview with John Howland, author of Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and the Birth of Concert Jazz.
  21. Part 1 of the two-part Night Lights program I did on Monk with biographer Robin D.G. Kelley is now up for online listening: Thelonious Monk: From Man to Myth (Part 1) It covers Monk's early years and the Blue Note/Prestige period. Special thanks to Joe Medjuck.
  22. A recent Night Lights show that delves into the mid-1960s recordings of artists such as the Free Spirits, Count's Rock Band, the Fourth Way, and Gary Burton is up for online listening: First Fusion: Jazz-Rock Before Bitches Brew The web post also includes links to some extended versions and outtakes from the show.
  23. Posting these today in honor of Sonny's 87th birthday: Crossing The Bridge: The Return Of Sonny Rollins Rollins '57: Sonny Rollins Takes The Lead Sonny Rollins: Live In London Sonnymoon: Thelonious Monk And Sonny Rollins Not too long ago I revisited the Prestige box in its entirety... incredible to think that that was only the beginning.
  24. Last week's Night Lights show, a look at the career of trumpeter Kenny Dorham, is now up for online listening: It spans his career from early bebop recordings with Charlie Parker and the Bebop Boys to his last studio session with Cecil Payne.
  25. Posting these two previous Night Lights programs today in honor of what would have been the pianist, composer and arranger's 85th birthday: The Duke Pearson Songbook Now Hear This: Duke Pearson's Big Band