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"Jazz Tonight With Steve Allen"

ghost of miles

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This week's Night Lights show is a centennial salute to TV host and jazz advocate Steve Allen.  The program includes clips of appearances on Allen's show by Art Tatum and Miles Davis, excerpts from the triple-LP The Story Of Jazz that Allen narrated, Allen's jazz/poetry collaboration with Jack Kerouac, an all-star performance of Allen's signature song "This Could Be The Start Of Something Big," and more:

Jazz Tonight With Steve Allen

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Steve Allen is underrated as a songwriter. I have an extensive collection of his recordings.

I got to hear him perform in a pops concert with the Atlanta Symphony in the earlhy 1980s, it was a fun evening and we heard some great music, too.

On a personal note I was surprised to get a letter from him. When Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco recorded a CD of Allen compositions, I reviewed it for the local newspaper. Gibbs sent a photocopy of the review to Allen, who surprised we with a nice thank you letter and several CDs and cassettes of his music. I wish that I had taken time to do a phone interview with him, I'm sure he would have had me laughing throughout it. 

There was one last joke in him on the day he died. Allen had a minor car wreck on the way to visit his son, he died later that day of a heart attack. After the wreck, he quipped, "Some people will do anything to get my autograph."

Marian McPartland shared a story about sharing the bill with him and George Shearing in Kalamazoo, three solo sets and a trio finale. Evidently he took too long by telling jokes during his set, so without saying anything, she and Shearing ganged up on him in the finale and "wasted him."

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A friend of mine's got the SA show where he had Tal Farlow and Eddie Costa on it, but it's only audio- as most people know, they used to re-use the tapes of the shows, and they wiped out countless great performances by many of the greats- as shown with that great Miles Davis Quintet performance.

For some reason, Costa only plays vibes on the SA show episode.

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Some may be surprised to learn that in the mid-1980s, Steve Allen had a show on the Disney Channel called The Music Room, featuring artists from jazz as well as other genres.  His sidekick was a young Bill Maher.  Terry Gibbs led the band. I don't think the show has been commercially released, but most or all are on the InterTubez.


May I also add that one of the things that got me through the years 2017-2020 was getting into bed and, right before going to sleep, watching vintage episodes of What's My Line,  the classic lineup with Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, and Steve Allen.  I am grateful that so many of these have survived.

Edited by Teasing the Korean
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  • 7 months later...

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