In early 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz recording. Over the next 100 years we have heard transcendent leaps of creativity and staggering virtuosity; we have experienced the music of crushing pain, breathless romance, anger, exhilaration and humor. “Jazz at 100” is that story – one hundred years of jazz recordings – in 100 one-hour programs that will present representative music from a century of recorded jazz history. The series will explore the broad sweep of that narrative; its representative and its idiosyncratic players; its durable movements and dead ends; its popular recordings and rarities.
Hour 1: Jazz Comes to Records – First Jazz Recordings and Precedents
On February 26, 1917, five musicians from New Orleans recorded for Victor Records in New York as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, bringing a new syncopated music to the broader world – jazz. The new music form had developed and evolved in New Orleans and Chicago, primarily, from a rich mix of sources. In this hour, we’ll be exploring these first recordings and their antecedents – African rhythms, sanctified singing, vaudeville, minstrelsy, blues and ragtime.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 1: Jazz Comes to Records – First Jazz Recordings and Precedents
Hour 2: New Orleans Diaspora – Kid Ory & King Oliver
As New Orleans lost its commercial position as a major port and blacks fled the oppression of the American south, the cream of NOLA musicians hit the road. Many would play a significant role in the development of jazz. In this hour we will explore the music of two of these pioneers – trombonist Kid Ory and cornetist King Oliver.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 2: New Orleans Diaspora – Kid Ory & King Oliver
Hour 3: New Orleans Diaspora – Jelly Roll Morton & Sidney Bechet
In this hour, we’ll explore the music of two more giants of the New Orleans diaspora, pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton, who left Louisiana in 1908 and clarinetist and soprano saxophone player Sidney Bechet, who hit the road in 1916. In the complex racial landscape of New Orleans, both Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, and Sidney Bechet, like Kid Ory, were creoles. Creoles were lighter skinned mixed-race people, who brought conservatory musical training to the mélange that became jazz.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 3: New Orleans Diaspora – Jelly Roll Morton & Sidney Bechet
Hour 4: Chicago Jazz Roots
In addition to King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, The Chicago scene bristled with black and white bands, initially dominated by more New Orleans musicians, but in time a home grown group of Chicago players emerged. In this hour, we’ll return to the Chicago of King Oliver. As the 1920s progressed the Chicago music scene attracted such early jazz luminaries as Louisiana born clarinetists Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds and Leon Roppolo, Earl Hines from Pittsburgh, pianist Lovie Austin from Chattanooga, and Georgia-born trumpeter Jabbo Smith. We will also explore the scant recorded legacy of Freddie Keppard, who reigned in New Orleans as Cornet King after Buddy Bolden, until unseated by Joe “King” Oliver.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 4: Chicago Jazz Roots
Hour 5: Up in Harlem – The Bands
Now we move from Chicago to the other emerging center of the music in the 1920s, New York. While New York hosted small combos similar to Chicago, it also grew a number of significant larger groups and orchestras. We’ll hear from orchestras led by Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, Don Redman and Red Allen. Within these bands, we’ll find some of the greatest soloists of the period – Bix Beiderbecke, Coleman Hawkins, Miff Mole, and Louis Armstrong, who spent a little more than a year in Harlem in 1924 and 1925.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 5: Up in Harlem – The Bands
Hour 6: Up in Harlem – Stride
In the last hour, we listened to several of the bands associated with New York, with an emphasis on the new large ensemble form, the jazz orchestra. In this hour we’ll stick with New York, but focus in on the piano music of Harlem – “Stride.” We are joined in this hour by Art Wheeler, pianist, producer, composer and educator.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 6: Up in Harlem – Stride
Hour 7: New Orleans Diaspora – Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens
In the past two hours, we’ve heard the music of the newly conceived jazz orchestras of New York and the Harlem-style or “Stride” pianists. We touched on Louis Armstrong’s contributions to the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and the invention of the big band soloist. In this hour, we return with Louis Armstrong to Chicago and listen to his seminal small group recordings. We are joined in this hour by John D’earth – trumpet player, composer educator and member of the jazz performance faculty at the McIntyre Department of Music at UVa.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 7: New Orleans Diaspora – Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens
Hour 8: Bix and the Boys
In the last hour we heard the most important jazz recordings of the 1920s – the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens led by cornetist Louis Armstrong. Perhaps the other most influential cornet player of the era was a young white player from Davenport Iowa, Bix Beiderbecke. In this hour we will listen to his music often in the company of C-melody saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. We’ll also listen to several bands featuring cornetist Red Nichols and ground-breaking trombonist Miff Mole. We are joined in this hour by Brendan Wolfe, the author of “Finding Bix – The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend”. He is the managing editor of the Encyclopedia of Virginia, a project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 8: Bix and the Boys
Hour 9: Up in Harlem – Duke Ellington
In previous programs in this series, we have listened to Stride pianists and jazz orchestras from New York. In this hour, we’ll return to Harlem to listen to maybe the most important band leader in jazz history and one of the most significant composers of the music – Duke Ellington. We are joined in this hour by John D’earth – trumpet player, composer, educator and member of the music performance faculty of the McIntyre Department of Music at the University of Virginia.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 9: Up in Harlem – Duke Ellington
Hour 10: Birth of the Big Bands
In the last hour, we listened to the pioneering jazz orchestra of Duke Ellington. Large jazz ensembles, such as Ellington’s, soon to be known as “Big Bands”, evolved through the 1920s with significant innovations led by bandleaders Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Jimmy Lunceford and Don Redman, and arrangers Carter, Redman, Edgar Sampson and Sy Oliver. By the mid-1930s Big Bands dominated popular music.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 10: Birth of the Big Bands
Hour 11: Kansas City and the Territory Bands
Outside of the Chicago – New York nexus, jazz thrived during the late 1920’s and 1930’s in Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, with its center in Kansas City. Under the careful control of Boss Pendergast, Kansas City was a wide open town with a thriving night club music scene, nurturing musicians like Joe Turner, Count Basie, Ben Webster, Lester Young and Charlie Parker. Working the urban centers and roadhouses in the region were a slew of “territory bands” only a handful of whom are preserved in the recorded legacy. In this hour, we’ll explore the early jazz of Kansas City and the Territory Bands. Our guest in this hour is Jeff Decker – saxophonist, composer, educator and member of the jazz performance faculty of the University of Virginia McIntyre Department of Music
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 11: Kansas City and the Territory Bands
Hour 12: The Ascent of the Tenor – Coleman Hawkins
We have to remember that the clarinet dominated the reeds throughout the 1920s. Sidney Bechet made a stand with the soprano sax and Frankie Trumbauer celebrated the lightness of the C-melody sax. And then there was Coleman Hawkins. Our guest in this hour is Jeff Decker – saxophonist, composer, educator and member of the jazz performance faculty of the University of Virginia McIntyre Department of Music
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 12: The Ascent of the Tenor – Coleman Hawkins
Hour 13: Count Basie – Dueling Tenors and the Great American Rhythm Section
In the eleventh hour of Jazz at 100, we followed Count Basie through the Benny Moten Band in Kansas City and heard his first recordings as a leader. In 1937, after Benny Moten’s death, he took the nation by storm with his driving band lead by the “All American Rhythm Section” and the dual tenor saxophones of Herschel Evans and Lester Young. We are joined in this hour by Robert Jospe – percussionist, composer, recording artist and member of the performance faculty at the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 13: Count Basie – Dueling Tenors and the Great American Rhythm Section
Hour 14: Beyond Category – Duke Ellington in the 1930s
In the last hour, we heard Count Basie emerge as an exciting new voice from Kansas City. In this hour, we return to New York to follow Duke Ellington’s innovative path through the 1930s as he experiments with longer musical forms while building one of his greatest bands featuring tenor player Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton. We are joined in this hour by Peter Spaar – bassist, composer, educator and member of the performance faculty of the McIntyre Department of Music at the University of Virginia.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 14: Beyond Category – Duke Ellington in the 1930s
Hour 15: Chick Webb & Benny Goodman
In the mid-1930s, jazz orchestras led by drummer Chick Webb and clarinetist Benny Goodman rose to prominence with the arrangements of Edgar Sampson and Fletcher Henderson. After launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Webb succumbed to spinal tuberculosis in 1939, at age 34. Goodman launched the careers of Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Harry James and Charlie Christian over a storied run that earned him the controversial sobriquet “King of Swing”.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 15: Chick Webb & Benny Goodman
Hour 16: Billie Holiday & Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday began recording at 18 years old in 1933 in a session with Bennie Goodman and was musically active until her death at 44 in 1959. Ella Fitzgerald also began recording at 18 (in 1935 as the singer with Chick Webb), but in her case, her career surged again in the mid-1950’s with the songbook series on Verve. They are perhaps the two most important female singers to come out of the Swing Era.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 16: Billie Holiday & Ella Fitzgerald
Hour 17: The Entertainers – Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Lionel Hampton
Jazz has often been understood through the lens of the conflict between art and commerce. In the 1930s, several artists successfully blurred these distinctions. Louis Armstrong adopted popular song as his vehicle foe a successful career shift into the mainstream. Cab Calloway defined his popular hipster persona while fronting one of the most professional big bands of the era and providing an incubator for numerous future jazz starts including Dizzy Gillespie, Chu Berry and Milt Hinton. Lionel Hampton, a key member of Benny Goodman’s courageous color-blind quartet and the leading vibraphone player of his generation, created a series of high-energy recordings that were foundational in the development of Rhythm and Blues.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 17: The Entertainers – Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Lionel Hampton
Hour 18: The Entertainers – Fats Waller
In this hour, we continue to explore the intersection of art and commerce. In the 1930s, Fats Waller was one of the artists that successfully blurred this distinction. By far the most commercially successful of the stride pianists, he made his reputation (and his living) through comedy. One of the most recorded jazz composers, Waller also has to make anyone’s shortlist of the most entertaining jazz performers.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 18: The Entertainers – Fats Waller
Hour 19: Small Groups of the 1930s – Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young
While the jazz of the thirties was predominantly remembered as coming from orchestras and big bands, seminal soloists continued to record memorable music in small group settings, setting the stage for disruptive industry transitions to come in the 1940s.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 19: Small Groups of the 1930s – Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young
Hour 20: Small Groups – Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt, John Kirby
In the last hour we heard from prominent Swing Era soloists Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges and Lester Young, featured in small group settings. Continuing in the small group vein, in this hour we’ll hear from the Benny Goodman Trio, Quartet and sextet, Django Reinhardt and le Quintette Du Hot Club de France avec Stephane Grappelli and the influential, but less well known sextet led by bassist John Kirby.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 20: Small Groups – Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt, John Kirby
Hour 21: The Swing Era
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands; war shortages of gasoline and shellac limiting both touring and recording; the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras; the musicians strike and recording ban of 1942 – 1944 and the resulting decline in the major labels and the rise of independent labels; the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war; and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 21: The Swing Era
Hour 22: Bebop Big Bands
Although Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman soldiered on, mostly keeping bands on the road into the 1970s (Ellington) and 1980s (Basie and Herman), the era of the big band effectively ended with the AFM strike and World War Two shortages of gas, rubber and players. A leaner combo-oriented music emerged in night clubs after the war. Several band leaders sought to find common ground with the new music and the big band format, but as dance halls faded, the economics of the large ensemble no longer worked.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 22: Bebop Big Bands
Hour 23: The Birth of Bebop
Bebop! The fast and harmonically-challenging music born in jam sessions in the early 1940s, burst on the scene in the work of Dizzy Gillespie, Charley Parker, and Thelonious Monk. “By the early 1940s … a new approach to small-combo jazz playing was developing, characterized by a more flexible approach to rhythm, a more aggressive pursuit of instrumental virtuosity, and an increasingly adventurous harmonic language.” – Scott Deveaux
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 23: The Birth of Bebop
Hour 24: R&B – Bebop’s Twin
Some of the same forces that launched Bebop as a break from Big Band Swing, also fueled the birth of Rhythm and Blues – the rise of independent labels in the wake of the recording ban of 1942 – 1944, the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras, the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war, and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media. Bebop and R&B also shared the big bands as a common pool of musicians who used that platform to explore the harmonically-rich alternative to swing in bebop and the rhythmically propelled alternative in R&B.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 24: R&B – Bebop’s Twin
Hour 25: Yardbird – The Savoy and Dial Recordings of Charlie Parker
Emerging from the Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City and relentlessly curious about how to play the new music he heard in his head, Charlie Parker found sympathetic players in New York, especially Dizzy Gillespie. In November of 1945, Bird, as he was universally known, began to record with his own quintets and sextets in a legendary series of recordings for Dial in Hollywood and Savoy in Newark. By the end of 1948, when he began to record for Normal Granz and his Clef, Mercury and Verve labels, Bird’s reputation was forever secure
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 25: Yardbird – The Savoy and Dial Recordings of Charlie Parker
Hour 26: That Dizzy Cat – Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie grew up professionally playing in the big bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and writing for Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. The wartime economy with its shortages and the musician’s strike of the early 1940s led Gillespie to focus on small combos for his own projects, including his seminal collaborations with Charlie Parker in 1945 – 1946. However Dizzy returned whenever he could to the big band format and by mid-1946, he was fronting the first of several financially challenging but musically groundbreaking big bands.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 26: That Dizzy Cat – Dizzy Gillespie
Hour 27: Un Poco Loco – The Intensity of Bud Powell
Mentored by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell became the first great piano innovator of bebop. “It would be hard to overstate Powell’s impact. His ingenious technique and originality as an improviser and composer established the foundation for all pianists to follow. Long after bop had faded, Powell remained a source of inspiration for pianists as varied as the harmonically engrossed Bill Evans and the rhythmically unfettered Cecil Taylor. In other words there is jazz piano Before Powell and After Powell.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 27: Un Poco Loco – The Intensity of Bud Powell
Hour 28: The Genius of Modern Music – Thelonious Monk on Blue Note
In 1940, Minton’s Playhouse on West 118th Street hired drummer Kenny Clarke as a bandleader. For the house band, Clarke hired trumpeter Joe Guy, bassist Nick Fenton, and an eccentric pianist named Thelonious Monk. Although Monk recorded with Coleman Hawkins in 1944, he didn’t record with his own group until 1947. Despite these kind of gaps that occur throughout his discography, he is competitive with Duke Ellington for the most recorded composer in jazz. The Blue Note recordings of 1947 – 1952 include many of the most recognized of his compositions.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 28: The Genius of Modern Music – Thelonious Monk on Blue Note
Hour 29: Tadd Dameron – Fats Navarro – Sonny Stitt – JJ Johnson
In the past several hours of Jazz at 100, we have featured the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach. In this hour, we will continue to present bebop innovators – pianist/composer Tadd Dameron and his frequent (but short-lived) collaborator Fats Navarro, the next great bebop trumpeter after Dizzy Gillespie, and two of the greatest and longest-lived bebop soloists, Bird’s rival – alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt who recorded until 1982 and the first significant bebop trombonist JJ Johnson, who was active in music until 1996.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 29: Tadd Dameron – Fats Navarro – Sonny Stitt – JJ Johnson
Hour 30: Jazz on Central Avenue – Bebop in Los Angeles
Most of the pioneering bebop musicians we have featured in the past several programs were centered in New York – Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Navarro, JJ Johnson, Max Roach. While New York may have dominated the modern music scene, it wasn’t the only scene. The wartime economy in southern California brought an influx of African-American workers, not dissimilar to Chicago in the 1920s, and with them musicians, nightclubs and dance halls.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 30: Jazz on Central Avenue – Bebop in Los Angeles
Hour 31: My Brainwaves in His Head, and His in Mine – Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn
Duke Ellington was the well-spring that flowed through many decades of jazz. In 1938, Ellington found his soul-mate in composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. By the early 1940s, Strayhorn combined with bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster to reinvigorate both Ellington and his band. In the next hour, we will feature the compositions and arrangements of Ellington’s most important collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, from Take the A Train and Chelsea Bridge through Satin Doll and Lush Life to his dying lament – Blood Count – from 1967.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 31: My Brainwaves in His Head, and His in Mine – Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn
Hour 32: Dixieland Revival – A Sense of History
In the 1940’s, some twenty-five to thirty years into the history of recorded jazz, the sometimes violent reaction against the bebop revolution caused a hard look into the rear view and the jazz world focused on its own history. Many of the players who led the first jazz revolution were still alive, ready for prime time, and welcoming of another chance at center stage. The outside forces that led the small ensembles of bebop and R&B into prominence, also supported the resurgence of quintets and sextets playing New Orleans-style jazz.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 32: Dixieland Revival – A Sense of History
Hour 33: Proto-Cool – Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz
Pianist Lennie Tristano was a very visible participant in the modern jazz innovations of the mid-1940s through the early 1950s, winning polls and participating in all-star jam sessions. Yet his music was always a little outside the mainstream and was increasingly so as he began to experiment with fully improvised performances by 1947. While his focus on low dynamics and long flowing lines has been seen as a precursor of the cool school that arose early in the 1950s, the better argument may be made that Tristano created an intellectual setting for the free jazz to come.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 33: Proto-Cool – Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz
Hour 34: The Birth of the Cool
The torrid pace of bebop improvisations reached a point in the late 1940s that prompted a musical reconsideration and Miles Davis was there at the conception. Davis had been with the Charlie Parker Quintet since 1945, when he began to woodshed with composer/arrangers John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, all of whom would become major long-time contributors to the music. In three recording sessions starting in January 1949, this arrangers’ super-group created a body of music which, when rereleased at the beginning of the LP era, was known as the “Birth of the Cool.”
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 34: The Birth of the Cool
Hour 35: Big Bands in the 1950s
Woody Herman disbanded the Second Herd in 1949 and, while Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington managed to keep a big band on the road through the 1950s, Count Basie disbanded his band at the start of the decade but assembled a new one in a few years. Generally this was a tough period for large ensembles. This, however, didn’t dampen the urge for musicians and composers to hear music in large forms and find ways to make it real. In this hour we will survey the 1950s contributions of Stan Kenton and his orchestra, Count Basie and his New Testament Band, Duke Ellington at Newport, Gil Evans studio band, Quincy Jones and the adventurous Dectet of Teddy Charles.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 35: Big Bands in the 1950s
Hour 36: Bebop Pioneers in the 1950s
Bebop had its roots in the big bands of the late 1930s and was nurtured in jam sessions during the war and the musician’s strike of the 1940s. By 1950, the prescient Coleman Hawkins, and the pioneers – Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Max Roach were well-established stars at risk of the music moving on and leaving them behind. Yet, they all had much more to offer in the 1950s.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 36: Bebop Pioneers in the 1950s
Hour 37: Cool – Four Brothers After Woody Herman
Bandleader Woody Herman created a distinctive sound around The Four Brothers – the three tenor plus baritone sax front line of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Herbie Stewart (later Al Cohn) and Serge Chaloff – and the writing of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre. In time, Getz, Sims, Chaloff, Cohn and Giuffre would all become distinctive soloists and all had a role in defining West Coast Jazz in the 1950s.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 37: Cool – Four Brothers After Woody Herman
Hour 38: Stan Kenton & West Coast Jazz
In the last hour, we heard evidence of Woody Herman’s capacity for talent development in the form of further work by reed players Stan Getz, Serge Chaloff, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Jimmy Giuffre. In this hour we turn the spotlight on alumni of the Stan Kenton Orchestra which produced several significant players in the West Coast cool tradition (Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, Gerry Mulligan, Frank Rosolino) and a number of prominent vocalists (Anita O’Day, June Christy and Chris Connor).
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 38: Stan Kenton & West Coast Jazz
Hour 39: The Birth of Hard Bop
While the “Cool School” was emerging on the West Coast from its roots in Bix and Pres as codified by Miles in “The Birth of the Cool” sessions of 1949 – 1950, what became known as Hard Bop, a gospel- and blues-influenced variant was growing from Bebop in the east. “If cool jazz aimed for a light timbre, hard bop preferred a sound that was heavy, dark, impassioned. The tenor replaced the alto as the saxophone of choice, and drummers worked in an assertive style that drove the soloists.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 39: The Birth of Hard Bop
Hour 40: Sons of the Jazz Messengers
In 1956, with Horace Silver’s departure, Art Blakey inherited the Jazz Messengers. Over the next five years, the Jazz Messengers took part in recording sessions that have resulted in almost 40 live and studio recordings. Also in this period, Blakey collaborated with players who became the stars of Hard Bop. In this hour, we will hear from just some of these players – trumpeters Kenny Dorham and Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons and tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 40: Sons of the Jazz Messengers
Special Edition: Porgy and Bess
In the mid-1930’s, George Gershwin acquired the rights to the play Porgy by DuBose Heyward, based on his own novel of 1925. Gershwin’s great American opera, Porgy and Bess debuted in 1935 with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. For some period of time, the themes of domestic violence, drug addiction, and gambling led many in both the white and black communities to see the opera as an unfortunate caricature of African Americans. MGM even had difficulty recruiting top-tier black talent to star in the 1958 film adaptation. Yet the interest generated by the film led to a renewed focus on the music and the late-1950s saw many recordings of the songs by popular and jazz artists of stature. Over the intervening sixty years, the opera has become understood as a powerful statement about community, loss and hope. This Special Edition of Jazz at 100 is a recreation of the opera using great performances by jazz artists, presented in performance order with plot summaries to create context for the music and lyrics. George Gershwin saw his work as a “folk opera”; in this version, it can be heard as a “jazz opera.” This is a version of a broadcast that was originally presented during the 2017 Classical Marathon on WTJU 91.1 FM Charlottesville as the contribution of Russell Perry and Brian Keena, hosts of the jazz programs “Jazz at 100” and “The Jazz Messenger.”.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Special Edition: Porgy and Bess
Hour 41: The Lyricists – Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Art Farmer
David Rosenthal writes, “Musicians of a gentler, more lyrical bent … found in hard bop a more congenial climate than bebop had offered: for instance, trumpeter Art Farmer, [and] composers Benny Golson and Gigi Gryce…. In a sense, such musicians were not hard boppers at all. They are, however, partially associated with the movement for two reasons. First, they often performed and recorded with hard boppers. Art Farmer, for example, played in Horace Silver’s quintet and with saxophonists Jackie McLean and Jimmy Heath. And second, the very latitude and diversity of hard bop allowed room for their more meditative styles to evolve. Hard bop’s slower tempos and simpler melodies also helped, as did the school’s overall aesthetic, which favored “saying something” over technical bravado… But the decisive quality they share with each other is their gentle, thoughtful elegance.” Rosenthal describes Art Farmer, Benny Golson and Gigi Gryce as “The Lyricists.”
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 41: The Lyricists – Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Art Farmer
Hour 42: The Chicago Sound
Because it acted as a safe harbor for the New Orleans diaspora of the teens and twenties, Chicago played a key role in early jazz. By the 1950s, much of jazz was understood in the dialog between cool jazz and hard bop, aka West Coast and East Coast, with Los Angeles and New York playing inordinately important roles. But the Chicago scene was as vital as ever. In this hour, we will return to the “City with Broad Shoulders” and hear from Chicago-based musicians in the 1950s, with a focus on big-toned tenor players – Clifford Jordan, John Gilmore, Johnny Griffin and Gene Ammons. These musicians played hardbop with a bluesy, brawny edge, suffused with what Chicago native and jazz critic Larry Kart calls “an air of downhome experimentation.” And speaking of experimentation, first we turn to one of the singular individuals in jazz – Sun Ra, who was also based in Chicago.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 42: The Chicago Sound
Hour 43: Monk and Friends: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, & Elmo Hope in the 1950s
The 1950s were a very productive decade for Thelonious Monk, perhaps his most productive as a composer. During the fifties his reputation and impact grew tremendously. His influence on other pianists can be seen in the work of Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols, among others. Although neither had the longevity or enjoyed the popularity that Monk did, as the years go by their reputations have grown. In this hour, we will turn to idiosyncratic pianist/composers Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols and Elmo Hope in the 1950s.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 43: Monk and Friends: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, & Elmo Hope in the 1950s
Hour 44: West Coast Piano – Dave Brubeck, Hampton Hawes, Nat King Cole
In the last hour, we heard from Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols – three closely associated New York pianists in the 1950s. In this hour, we’ll return to the West Coast and another trio of pianists representing some of the widely divergent strains of jazz in the 1950s. Nat “King” Cole was famous first as a swinging pianist, who then developed into a hugely popular ballad singer. Hampton Hawes, a former Charlie Parker band mate, developed bebop into a highly personal style. Dave Brubeck took his classical training and created a body of idiosyncratic work that made his quartet one of the highest selling jazz combos of all time.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 44: West Coast Piano – Dave Brubeck, Hampton Hawes, Nat King Cole
Hour 45: Norman Granz and Verve Records
In July 2, 1944, Norman Granz, a jazz fan and small-time LA promoter staged a concert in the Philharmonic Auditorium with $300 of borrowed money. His “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concerts were hugely successful and became tours that ran until 1957. These tours and the record labels they spawned – Clef, Norgran and especially Verve – became home to many of the great players of the 1950s, often mainstream players who had a lot of music left to play, but were not necessarily at the cutting edge of the rapidly evolving music. The availability of this music played a key role in building a market for the continued appreciation of mainstream players like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster and Art Tatum.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 45: Norman Granz and Verve Records
Hour 46: The Songbooks
Songs from what came to be known as the Great American Songbook, have been part of jazz perhaps since The Original Dixieland Jazz Band began recording Irving Berlin compositions. In the 1940s, singer Lee Wiley recorded several collections of 78s, known as “albums” – a name that stuck into the LP era, focused on the work of individual composers like George Gershwin or Cole Porter. With the advent of the Long Playing record, the idea of recording whole LPs dedicated to the work of a specific songwriter or songwriting team took off, initiated by Ella Fitzgerald.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 46: The Songbooks