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  1. Benny Carter led an extraordinarily long life in jazz; as his biographer pointed out, he was probably the only musician who both recorded into an acoustic horn and surfed his own website. 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, Carter came to be known as “the King.” Carter died at the age of 95 in July of 2003, having recorded and performed well into his 80s. This weekend on Night Lights we’ll celebrate his 100th birthday (August 8th) with music from the middle of his career, including records he made with pianists Oscar Peterson, Teddy Wilson, and Art Tatum; his 1946 big band; songs he wrote and either arranged or performed on for vocalists Julia Lee and Sarah Vaughan; and music that he scored for film and television. The program airs tonight at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville, as well as 10 p.m. EST Sunday evening on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. It will be posted for online listening Monday morning in the new Night Lights archives. We've also posted a video of Carter and Coleman Hawkins performing "Blue Lou" from a JATP performance at the bottom of the show's info page. Next week: "The Duke Pearson Songbook."
  2. I still miss the menu we had for the first few years of the show, but paging through this way at least allows you to view ten episodes at once: Night Lights shows Simply click "Next page" at the bottom to move back chronologically through archived programs.
  3. A new Night Lights show up for online listening, focusing on the musical events of John Coltrane's 1962: Trane '62: The Classic Quartet Begins
  4. Last week's Night Lights show, which takes a look at recordings that trumpeter Lee Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter made together, is now up for online listening:
  5. A tribute to father-and-son jazz formations this week on Night Lights, in honor of the upcoming Father's Day holiday: Daddy-O!  Father-and-Son Teams in Jazz Plenty of material left over for a sequel next year...and special thanks (as noted at the bottom of the program page and at the end of the program itself) to board members Chuck Nessa and rostasi.
  6. "1961: New Jazz Frontier"

    Last week's Night Lights show, with music from Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and others, and a timeline for the year's events, now up for online listening: 1961: New Jazz Frontier
  7. Much more information here, along with a video of Booker Little and George Coleman performing with Max Roach. The show covers the late-1950s and 1960s recordings of Harold Mabern, George Coleman, Booker Little, and Frank Strozier--with at least two members playing on every side that's featured. Separate shows on some of these artists will follow later this year, along with a show about Phineas Newborn Jr. The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman and Little airs Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville. It will also air on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. The program will be posted for online listening Monday morning in the Night Lights archives. Next week: "Miss Peggy Lee, Songwriter."
  8. I decided to pay tribute to the Goodman centennial this week with a program devoted to his brief foray into bebop (1947-49): Benny Goodman's Bebop Interlude Mostly small-group, some big band, lots of Wardell Gray, plus appearances from Stan Hasselgard, Mary Lou Williams, and Fats Navarro. Broadcasting tonight at 10 p.m. EST on WFIU and tomorrow night at 10 p.m. EST on Blue Lake Public Radio, but it's already archived for online listening.
  9. Up for the arrival day of Mr. Ra: Second Magic City: Sun Ra In Chicago
  10. Exploring the jazz side of black-owned, Chicago-based Vee-Jay Records on this edition of Night Lights, with music from Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Paul Chambers, Wynton Kelly, Bill Henderson, Eddie Harris, Frank Strozier, and the MJT + III: The Vee-Jay Jazz Story
  11. Last week's Night Lights program, drawn from the new Mosaic Records set Classic Savoy Be-bop Sessions 1945-49 (with a couple of Charlie Parker sides included for the sake of historical comprehensiveness) is now up for online listening: Boppin' On Savoy: Bebop And Savoy Records In The Late 1940s
  12. A recent Night Lights show now up for online listening, revisiting the historic New York City nightclub of the 1950s and early 60s, featuring broadcasts and recordings by Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Maynard Ferguson, and more:
  13. Night Lights for MLK Day

    Some programs, including Dear Martin: Jazz Tributes To Martin Luther King Jr. and We Shall Overcome: Civil-Rights Jazz, as well as articles, interviews, and shows about Duke Ellington: Night Lights For MLK Day: Jazz And More
  14. Some shows from the archives to help pave today's way to 2017: Jazz For Mad Men: Hits From The 1960s Hipsters, Flipsters, And On-The-Scenesters The New Year's Eve Jam Swingers: Hugh Hefner, Playboy Magazine, And Jazz ...and step out to a couple of nightclubs while you're at it: Cafe Society: The Wrong Place For The Right People At The Jazz Corner Of The World: Live From Birdland Jazz From Storyville Happy 2017 and all that jazz.
  15. Here's the annual Night Lights program highlighting some of my favorite historical releases and reissues from the year that's concluding. The program post includes an expanded list of titles, not all of which were able to fit into the show. I'd love to see your choices--I'm sure I omitted some that I either didn't know about or left out for other reasons: Best Historical Releases 2016
  16. This week's Night Lights show, the annual Christmas extravaganza, now up for online listening: Hep To The Holidays ...includes poet Sascha Feinstein reading "Christmas Eve," a poem about the legendary 1954 Miles Davis-Thelonious Monk recording session, Bob Brookmeyer's "Santa Claus Blues," Horace Silver and Andy Bey's recording of "Peace," and much more. Plus, check out the program page for a Night Lights holiday outtake--hipster comedian Lord Buckley performing his take on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Happy holidays, all.
  17. Here's a recent Night Lights program about the arrival of American bebop artists on the Continent in the late 1940s, including studio recordings and concert broadcasts from Chubby Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Tadd Dameron, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, and more: Bebop Comes To Europe
  18. On this recent edition of Night Lights, veteran pianist Hod O'Brien talks coming of jazz age in the 1950s, playing with Ornette Coleman and Chet Baker, and much more. We also check out recordings he made as a leader and with Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, and Idrees Suliemann, JR Monterose, Roswell Rudd, and others: A Portrait Of Hod O'Brien
  19. This week's Night Lights show looks at Glenn Miller's amazing 1943-1945 Army Air Force band, which included musicians such as pianist Mel Powell, clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, drummer Ray McKinley, and singer Johnny Desmond. The show includes excerpts from an interview I did several years ago with AAF trombonist Nat Peck (who was 19 when he joined Miller's group in 1943) and historian Michael McGerr, as well as music that represents the varied aspects of the AAF--the Uptown Hall Gang (performing one of the earliest versions of "A Night In Tunisia"), Strings With Wings, and the full AAF, including a rare 1944 broadcast with Bing Crosby. Up for online listening on Veterans' Day: Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band (Note: there is an expanded "director's cut" version of this show, which is derived from a previous program that I did for WFIU, embedded in the program post. It includes more music and more remarks from Nat Peck--who passed away not long ago, and may have been the last surviving member of the band.)
  20. Online just in time for Halloween... smoke dreams, sorcerers, stalking monsters, and strange exits: paranormal jazz encounters on this edition of Night Lights. Jazz Haunts For Halloween: Ghostly Songs And Mysterious Ends
  21. Re-posting three Night Lights programs today in honor of Bud, born on this day in 1924. The first two include some commentary from Powell biographer Peter Pullman; the third focuses exclusively on live recordings by Powell from 1944 to 1953: Time Flies: The Life And Music Of Bud Powell, Part 1 The Scene Changes: The Life And Music Of Bud Powell, Part 2 Burning With Bud: Bud Powell Live, 1944-1953
  22. This past weekend's Night Lights show, Jazz From Monterey: 1958, Birth of a Festival, is now up for online listening (just ahead of the 2010 festival). It features live performances from the Jimmy Giuffre 3, Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday, Cal Tjader, and Dave Brubeck. Coming later this week: "Goin' Up: Jazz in the Space Age."
  23. I've put together a new bibliography for the Night Lights blog--this one covering jazz autobiographies. Heads-ups for the inevitable oversights, omissions, etc welcome as always: Songs Of Themselves: Jazz Autobiographies
  24. This week on Night Lights it’s “Later: Bobby Hutcherson in the Mid-1970s.” Bobby Hutcherson made his first appearance on a Blue Note date in 1963, playing on saxophonist Jackie McLean’s LP ONE STEP BEYOND. In the next 14 years Hutcherson would record 22 albums as a leader for the label and appear as a sideman with musicians such as Joe Henderson, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock, becoming a prominent figure in the avant-bop landscape of the 1960s. The Blue Note label went through big changes after founding owner Alfred Lion sold the company, and Hutcherson was one of the few classic 1960s artists to stay, along with pianist Horace Silver and trumpeter Donald Byrd. The success of Hutcherson’s tune “Ummh” from his early-1970s album SAN FRANCISCO led to a renewal of the vibraphonist’s contract with the label, and he went on to record five albums that have now been collected by Mosaic records in a single set, after having been unavailable for decades. 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; these albums feature players such as trumpeters Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Harold Land and Manny Boyd, and pianist George Cables. Although Blue Note’s glory days were already past when these records were made, they reflect the intensity of the label’s best work. “Later” airs Saturday, April 14 at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville. It will also air Sunday evening at 10 p.m. EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. The program will be posted by Tuesday morning in the Night Lights archives. Next week: "Slide at 75."
  25. Another recent Night Lights show up for online listening, devoted to the music and life of arranger and trombonist Melba Liston: