Night Lights Classic Jazz
11pm - 12am
Night Lights, WFIU's weekly jazz program hosted by David Brent Johnson, focuses on the 1945-1990 era, a timespan that, as Johnson notes, "weirdly parallels Miles Davis on record and the Cold War."
Covering artists such as Jackie McLean, Charles Mingus, and Nina Simone, Night Lights also features many lesser-known jazz talents. A diverse mix includes jazz recordings of spirituals and avant-garde interpretations of the Great American Songbook. Johnson also maintains a widely read jazz blog and website that contains streaming archives of all past programs at: http://nightlights.blogs.wfiu.org.
About the host:
David Brent Johnson has hosted the nationally syndicated Night Lights for the past five years. He has also guest-hosted for Joe Bourne on WFIU’s Just You and Me and The Big Bands, as well as producing WFIU documentaries about 1920s jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke and Duke Ellington’s 1941 civil-rights musical, Jump for Joy. In 2006 he became the host of WFIU’s long-running, popular Friday-evening program Afterglow.
An Indianapolis native and IU alumna, Johnson began his radio career at Bloomington community radio station WFHB, where he hosted the weekly jazz program All That Jazz. A writer who’s published frequently in Bloom Magazine, The Ryder, the Bloomington Independent, and Indianapolis Nuvo, Johnson has won two Society of Professional Journalists awards for his arts writing.
Johnson lives with his wife in Bloomington’s Near-Westside neighborhood, a short walk from the gravesite of Hoagy Carmichael. He is currently working on a series about the history of Indiana jazz.
April 23, 2014
On a Turquoise Cloud: Duke Ellington after the War, 1945-47
Ellington kept his orchestra together in a changing economic landscape, continuing to create memorable music and expanding his compositional horizons. At the end of World War II Duke Ellington was coming off one of the most commercially and artistically successful periods of his career—the so-called Blanton-Webster years of the early 1940s. He had managed to keep much of his orchestra intact during the war and had maintained a high public profile with concerts and broadcasts during the 1943-44 recording ban that kept him and other artists out of the studios. In late 1944 he’d scored a smash hit with “I’m Beginning to See the Light”…and with service men and women beginning to return home as the war wound down in 1945, it seemed that the big bands would keep riding the wave of popularity that had sustained them since the mid-1930s. But the cultural landscape was changing in ways that would challenge, provoke, and inspire Ellington as he continued to pursue his unique musical vision.