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NEWS: RADIO

Hughes' Blues: The Langston Hughes Songbook

We know Langston Hughes as a celebrated African-American author of poems, essays, stories, memoirs and more. But Hughes also wrote songs-hundreds of them. Music was at the heart of his work, with jazz and blues informing the cadences, structures, and subject matter of many of his poems. In an early essay, “The Negro Artist and the ...

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Portrait of Little Jazz: a Centennial Tribute to Roy Eldridge

Portrait of Little Jazz:  a Centennial Tribute to Roy Eldridge

They called him “Little Jazz," but he was born David Roy Eldridge on January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Roy Eldridge has often been called the link or bridge between Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. He was indeed a strong influence on Gillespie, who called him “the Messiah of our generation," and he certainly admired Armstrong, ...

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"The David Baker Songbook"

David Baker is a renowned jazz educator and bandleader who came out of Indianapolis' great Indiana Avenue scene of the mid-20th century, counting among his friends and colleagues Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, and Freddie Hubbard. His jazz resume is studded with notable accomplishments, associations, and awards. He came up as a standout trombonist and switched to ...

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Playland at the Beach: Dave Brubeck's Early Octet and Trio

Chances are you've heard Dave Brubeck before, even if you're not a jazz fan. His 1959 album Time Out has sold over a million copies and “Take Five," written by longtime Brubeck collaborator and saxophonist Paul Desmond, became a hit single and cultural musical staple. Brubeck made the cover of Time Magazine in 1954, did global ...

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The Billy Strayhorn Songbook

The Billy Strayhorn Songbook

Night Lights celebrates the 95th anniversary of Billy Strayhorn's birth with “The Billy Strayhorn Songbook," a program featuring interpretations of Strayhorn's music by the Duke Ellington orchestra, Ellingtonians such as Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, and Ben Webster, John Coltrane, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra, and Strayhorn himself. Strayhorn was Ellington's writing partner for 27 years, contributing scores ...

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A Brief History of Mary Lou Williams

Does anybody embody the history of 20th-century jazz as much as Mary Lou Williams? The arc of her career extends from the territory bands and Kansas City swing of the 1930s to the heights of the big-band era, the bebop movement of the 1940s, the American expatriate jazz of the post-World War II era, the sacred-jazz ...

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We Brothers Three: the Joneses, Heaths and Montgomerys

From Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey to Wynton and Branford Marsalis, the history of jazz includes a number of notable brother acts. Sometimes three brothers have shared the stage or studio space—the focus of this week's edition of Night Lights. “We Brothers Three" features music from the following trio of brotherly trios: Hank, Thad and Elvin Jones Jimmy, Percy ...

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Goin' Up: Space Age Jazz

Playing your bass in outer space? Getting some Martians to groove to a West Coast beat? Landing your orchestra on a distant planet? This week on Night Lights it's “Space Age Jazz"—the story of how some 1950s and 60s jazz adventurers were influenced by the Cold War race for space, with music from Duke Ellington, Sun ...

NEWS: BOOK / MAGAZINE

He, Too, Was America: Duke Ellington's Sepia Panorama

When it comes to biography, the life of pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington has presented a challenge worthy of its maestro's motto: “beyond category." Ellington was born in 1899 and died in 1974; in between, he merely led a world-class jazz orchestra for 50 years, wrote or co-wrote pieces that number in the thousands, and ...

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Jazz From Monterey: 1958, Birth of a Festival

In 1958 a California DJ and a journalist realized a dream that would become one of the longest-running live jazz events in the world—a weekend-long outdoor series of concerts in a beautiful central California coastal setting featuring some of the music's greatest artists. Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan were just a few ...