SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

The Smithsonian Institution in the United States is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, including 19 museums and the U.S. National Zoo.

Established by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 1992, the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program seized the opportunity to document more than one hundred senior jazz musicians, performers, relatives, and business associates. Each interview was conducted by a jazz authority and was recorded on digital audiotape by a professional audio engineer. The interviews average six hours in length and cover a wide range of topics including the musician’s early years, initial involvement in music, generally, and jazz specifically, as well as their experiences in the jazz music world, including their relationships with other musicians.

International Jazz Day is pleased to partner with the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program to allow people around the world to learn from these one-of-a-kind resources.

Oral Histories Materials

The oral history transcriptions and recordings of NEA Jazz Masters featured here are part of the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts.

Jamey Aebersold

Recorded December 16, 2013

Jamey Aebersold, born in 1939 in New Albany, Indiana is an accomplished jazz saxophonists who is perhaps better well known as a music educator. Aebersold has taught musical improvisation at the University of Louisville; however, his reach as an educator goes far beyond Louisville and throughout the world. Between 1967 and 2013 Aebersold published 133 works in his “Play-a-Long” series of musical education books and CDs. The series not only teaches students how to play along with a composed work, but encourages them to improvise on the given melody; helping to spread one of the basic tenants of jazz music worldwide.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Aebersold discusses "when the sax gave in" at age 50.

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Aebersold discusses the goal behind his jazz clinics.

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Toshiko Akiyoshi

Recorded June 29, 2008

Pianist, band-leader, and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi has made a vital contribution to the art of big band jazz. Born in Manchuria, Akiyoshi moved to Japan with her parents at the end of World War II. She came to the United States in 1956 to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 1973, she and her husband, saxophonist/ flutist Lew Tabackin formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Akiyoshi discusses one of her early influences.

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Akiyoshi discusses how she made the decision to apply to Berklee School of Music in the USA.

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Akiyoshi discusses an early gig she had at Boston's Storyville jazz club.

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Akiyoshi talks about her early experiences with rehearsal bands in New York and Los Angeles.

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Toshiko Akiyoshi

Recorded June 29-30, 2008

Pianist, band-leader, and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi has made a vital contribution to the art of big band jazz. Born in Manchuria, Akiyoshi moved to Japan with her parents at the end of World War II. She came to the United States in 1956 to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 1973, she and her husband, saxophonist/ flutist Lew Tabackin formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Toshiko talking about her early development on piano

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Moving to Boston to study at Berkeley School of Music

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Talking about her time performing at Storyville

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The birth of her big band

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George Avakian

Recorded September 28, 1993

George Avakian was born in Russia to Armenian parents, who moved the family to New York City in the early 1920s. After service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Avakian began his 12-year tenure as a Columbia Records executive, eventually presiding over its Popular Music and International Divisions. From 1959 onward, Avakian served as producer at Warner Brothers, World Pacific, RCA Victor, and Atlantic, among others.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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George on how his family came to America

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George on how they used to record in the studio

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George on the invention of the 45

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George on his favorite musician

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George on Duke Ellington

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David Baker

Recorded June 19-21, 2000

David Nathaniel Baker, Jr. was born in 1931 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Jazz Department at the Indiana University School of Music, and served as conductor and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra for 22 years. A virtuoso performer on multiple instruments and top in his field in several disciplines, Mr. Baker has taught and performed around the world. He has written more than 2,000 compositions, including jazz and symphonic works, chamber music, ballet and film scores.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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David Baker on Lincoln University

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David Baker on Freddie Freeloader

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David Baker on playing at the Five Spot and looking like Thelonious Monk (Part I)

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David Baker on coming to Indiana University

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David Baker on imitation-assimilation-innovation

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"It's why I worked very hard...to get us in a situation where we're not perceived of as special"

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Danny Barker

Recorded July 21-23, 1992

A native of New Orleans, this master guitar and banjo player was well known for his humor and storytelling. In 1930 he moved to New York, where he met his wife, vocalist Blue Lu Barker, with whom he frequently recorded. After returning home in 1965, Danny Barker worked for 10 years as an assistant curator for the New Orleans Jazz Museum. He also mentored young musicians through the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Danny Barker on David Jones influencing Coleman Hawkins

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Danny Barker on encountering Sidney Bechet

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Danny Barker tells how he bought his first Ukulele

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Danny Barker discusses the circumstances of moving to New York City for the first time

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Danny Barker talks about his first experiences in New York City

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Danny Barker on his relationship with Jelly Roll Morton

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Danny Barker on working with Jelly Roll Morton for the first time

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Kenny Barron

Recorded January 15-16, 2011

With more than 40 albums to his name, pianist and composer Kenny Barron’s imprint on jazz is large. Barron started playing professionally in his native Philadelphia as a teenager. Throughout the 1980s, Barron collaborated with the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, touring with his quartet and recording several albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2005 Barron was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Kenny Barron talks about his early musical influences while growing up in Philadelphia

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Kenny Barron recollects his tours with Dizzy Gilespie

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Kenny talks about his respect for Yusef Lateef

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Kenny Barron talks about his experience with Brazilian music

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Kenny Barron talks about his interesting film score opportunity

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Kenny presents his view on the importance of live music

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Louie Bellson

Recorded October 20-21, 2005

Referred to by Duke Ellington as “not only the world’s greatest drummer…[but also] the world’s greatest musician,” Louie Bellson has performed on more than 200 albums, working with such greats as Benny Goodman, Louie Armstrong, and Lionel Hampton. Also a prolific composer, Bellson had more than 1,000 compositions and arrangements to his name. In 2003, a historical landmark was dedicated at his birthplace in Rock Falls, Illinois, inaugurating an annual celebration there in his honor.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Louie Bellson tells how Louis Armstrong joked with him and Pearl Bailey

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Louie Bellson on joining Benny Goodman's band

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Louie Bellson on joining Duke Ellington's band

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Louie Bellson on learning Ellington music with no drum charts

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Louie Bellson on giving his first arrangement to Duke Ellington

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Louie Bellson on meeting his wife Pearl Bailey

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Louie Bellson on playing Benny Carter's difficult arrangement of Erroll Garner's performance of "For Once In My Life"

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Louie Bellson on performing with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

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George Benson

Recorded April 17-18, 2011

George Benson began his career as a guitarist working the corner pubs of his native Pittsburgh. In the late 1960s he sat in on Miles Davis’ Miles in the Skysessions, and also put a personal spin on tunes from the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Benson has played with many of jazz’s finest instrumentalists, including Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter, and Freddie Hubbard. He has won ten Grammy Awards.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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George Benson discusses the biggest problem for jazz

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George Benson describes his “meanest gig” experience

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George Benson talks about record sales in the jazz world

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Carla Bley

Recorded September 9, 2014

Born Lovella May Borg in Oakland, California, Carla Bley is a trailblazing pianist, organist, big bandleader, and composer. Having learned the fundamentals of music from her piano teacher father, Bley is largely self-taught. In 1953, and the age of 17, Bley moved too New York City where she worked as a pianist and cigarette girl at various clubs. She soon began to compose for artists such as Charlie Haden and Gary Burton before branching out to work with big bands, first as part of The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, and later her own band.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Carla Bley: I was starting to listen to the radio

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Carla Bley: I’ve never written with anyone else

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Carla Bley: My father was a piano teacher

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Carla Bley: The music I was writing, which was very difficult

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Carla Bley: The record business

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Dave Brubeck

Recorded August 6-7, 2007

Born into a musical family, Dave Brubeck began taking piano lessons from his mother, a classical pianist, at age four. Throughout his career, Brubeck experimented with integrating jazz and classical music. In 1959, he recorded Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. He was honored in the U.S. and abroad, with the National Medal of Arts, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Austrian Medal of the Arts.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Dave Brubeck discusses meeting Stan Kenton for the first time

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Dave Brubeck talks about playing at the Band Box club

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Dave Brubeck describes the difficulty of getting a phone after WWII

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Dave Brubeck discusses his move from Fantasy to Columbia Records

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Dave Brubeck describes how Joe Morello joined his quartet

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Dave Brubeck talks about the inspiration for Blue Rondo a la Turk

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Kenny Burrell

Recorded February 16-17, 2010

Kenny Burrell pioneered the guitar-led trio with bass and drums in the late 1950s. Known for his harmonic creativity, lush tones, and lyricism on the guitar, he is also a highly regarded composer. He was born in Detroit in 1931, and while still a student at Wayne State University, he made his first major recording with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Percy Heath, and Milt Jackson. He is a founder of the Jazz Heritage Foundation.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Kenny Burrell describes hearing Charlie Parker's quintet

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Describes his college experience

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Describes the circumstances surrounding his first record for the Blue Note label

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Discusses why Detroit produced so many jazz musicians

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Gary Burton

Recorded May 6, 2016

Gary Burton has been a trendsetter in both the performance of jazz music as well as the development of jazz education. Born in Anderson, Indiana in 1943 he is an American jazz vibraphonist and NEA Jazz Master. As a winner of 7 Grammys and 15 Grammy nominations, he was instrumental in the development of jazz-fusion as well as the revival of the duo concert.  During his 33 years of service as a teacher, Dean of Curriculum, and Executive Vice President, Gary Burton helped to advance jazz education, add popular music to the school’s curriculum, and start Berklee Online.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Gary Burton elaborates on the importance of being around younger musicians as well as his own natural progression from being the youngest musician on the bandstand to becoming a mentor of young musicians.

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Benny Carter

Recorded June 14, 1992

This native New Yorker made memorable impressions as a great bandleader and improviser. Largely self-taught, Benny Carter’s first instrument was the trumpet, although the alto saxophone eventually became his principal instrument. He participated in tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic and wrote arrangements for singers including Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Carter received numerous awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Family Musical History

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Meeting Count Basie

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First Arrangements

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Writing for Film and TV

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Ron Carter

Recorded May 16, 2011

Ron Carter’s dexterity and harmonic sophistication on the bass have few rivals in jazz history. He has also employed both the cello and the piccolo bass, and is one of the first musicians to use those instruments in jazz settings. His pursuit of music began with the cello, as a student in Detroit public schools. In 1963, he joined Miles Davis in the trumpeter’s second great quintet, together with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, and Herbie Hancock.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Ron Carter talks about making any bass sound like him

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Ron Carter talks about the advantages of long-term gigs

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Ron Carter talks about his approach to being a sideman

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Ron Carter talks about holding Miles Davis' band together

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Ron Carter talks about the role of the bass

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Jimmy Cobb

Recorded July 26-27, 2010

An accomplished accompanist and soloist, Jimmy Cobb is best known for being a key part of Miles Davis’ first great quintet in the late 1950s. Largely self-taught, Cobb spent his younger days in his hometown of Washington, DC, playing engagements with Charlie Rouse, Frank Wess, and Billie Holiday, among others. Jimmy Cobb continues to play music in New York City, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Jimmy Cobb describes how he joined Miles Davis's band

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Discusses dealing with fatigue while playing drums

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Discusses his trio with bassist Keter Betts and pianist Wynton Kelly

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Discusses recording the Kind of Blue album with MIles Davis

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Discusses some experiences with vocalist Billie Holiday

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On practicing

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George Coleman

Recorded November 11, 2014

Renowned saxophonist, composer, and bandleader George Coleman was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. By the age of 17 he was touring with B.B. King and with whom he switched from playing mainly alto to the tenor saxophone. After finishing his tenure with King, in 1963 Coleman went on to play with the likes of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock before fronting his own bands. Coleman has also acted in movies such as The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and is an active music educator.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Coleman talking about Roy Eldridge tricking his fellow bandmates with a piano recording

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Coleman talking about playing music in different keys

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Coleman talking about how he had never worked with any musician for over a year

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Coleman gives advice for aspiring jazz musicians

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Coleman discussing how he studied jazz by listening to composers from different genres

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Chick Corea

Recorded November 5, 2012

Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea began playing piano and drums at an early age in his hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts. He is known both as a keyboardist and as a composer-arranger. Moving fluidly between jazz, fusion, and classical music throughout a four-decade career, Corea has garnered 16 Grammy Awards. In 2010, he was selected for the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame. He continues to create projects in multifaceted settings for listeners around the world.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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First Coming Across Latin Music

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On Himself as a Musician

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Social Aspect and Power of the Group

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It's All About Composition

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About Scenario Not Oneself

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Is Music a Language?

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Paquito D’Rivera

Recorded June 11-12, 2010

Winner of several Grammy Awards, Paquito D’Rivera is celebrated for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. Born in Havana, Cuba, he has appeared at, or composed for, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the National Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, and Montreal’s Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Paquito D'Rivera describes a peculiar method he used to keep in contact with family in Cuba

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Paquito D'Rivera describes his introduction to Bebop

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Paquito D'Rivera describes how he came about touring Europe with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie

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Paquito D'Rivera describes how he went about leaving Cuba for good

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Paquito D'Rivera discusses a jam session in Havana, Cuba with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Stan Getz

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Paquito D'Rivera discusses dropping out of high school to pursue a career in music

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Buddy DeFranco

Recorded November 8-9, 2008

A brilliant improviser and prodigious technician who has bridged the swing and bebop eras, Buddy DeFranco was born in Camden, New Jersey, and raised in South Philadelphia. He began playing the clarinet at age nine. In 1950, DeFranco joined the famous Count Basie Septet. He toured Europe with Billie Holiday in 1954 and has played with Nat “King” Cole, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stan Getz, among many others.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Development of clarinet chops and taking lessons

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Auditioning for Tommy Dorsey contest

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Tommy Dorsey as a leader and playing in his band

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Learning classical music repertoire and its value to jazz

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Jack DeJohnette

Recorded November 10-11, 2011

Widely regarded as one of the great drummers in modern jazz, this Chicagoan has played with virtually every major jazz figure from the 1960s on, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins. Jack DeJohnette’s versatility on the drums is accented by his additional accomplishments as a keyboardist: he studied classical piano for ten years before taking up drums.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Jack DeJohnette talks about switching his focus to drumset

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Jack DeJohnette discusses his week-long tenure with Coltrane in ’66

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Jack DeJohnette reflects on his days touring with Miles Davis

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Jack Dejohnette talks about his experience in the Blues Brothers 2000

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Jack DeJohnette talks about how local musicians and performances influenced him

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Lou Donaldson

Recorded June 20 and 21, 2012

Lou Donaldson’s distinctive blues-drenched alto saxophone has been a bopping force in jazz for more than six decades. His early work with trumpeter Clifford Brown is considered one of the first forays into hard bop, and his recordings with organist and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Smith led to the groove-filled jazz of the 1960s and ’70s.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Lou Donaldson speaks about his early influences in jazz

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Lou Donaldson discusses his Navy Band audition after being drafted in 1945

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Lou Donaldson talks about his skills on the baseball diamond

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Lou Donaldson describes the difference between Bebop and Hard Bop

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Lou Donaldson talks about an experience in Baltimore regarding Miles Davis

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Dorothy Donegan

Recorded April 5 and 6, 1998

Pianist, vocalist and educator Dorothy Donegan was fluent in several styles of jazz as well as European classical music. In the 1950s, the Chicago native developed a flamboyant performance style, which at times overshadowed her extraordinary piano playing, deep sense of swing, and wide-ranging repertoire.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Donegan recounting a cutting contest with Art Tatum, Hazel Scott, and Erroll Garner

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Donegan talks about performing with Papa Jo Jones and attending his funeral

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Donegan discusses learning from Art Tatum

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Harry Edison

Recorded August 20, 1993

Harry “Sweets” Edison was a consummate big band section trumpeter and skilled soloist whose ability to enhance a piece without overpowering it was renowned. A self-taught musician, his earliest gig came during high school in Columbus, Ohio, with the Earl Hood band. He went on to back Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Josephine Baker, among others. Edison was a welcome addition to the big bands he worked with, including Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Quincy Jones.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Sweets' first solo

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Sweets talking about originality versus imitation

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Count Basie gave Sweets the advice to find a note and stick with it

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Sweets on Count Basie as a bandleader

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Sweets on the Count Basie rhythm section

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Art Farmer

Recorded June 29-30, 1995

Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Art Farmer dabbled in piano, violin, and tuba before settling on the trumpet at age 14. Early in his career, he helped to popularize the flugelhorn in jazz. Later, he switched to a hybrid instrument known as the flumpet, which combined the power of the trumpet with the warmth of the flugelhorn. In 1994, a Life Time Achievement Concert was held at Lincoln Center in his honor.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Art Farmer talks about Lester Young’s mastery throughout his career

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Art Farmer discusses the influence of jazz in the 1950’s

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Art Farmer talks about today’s young musicians

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Art Farmer elaborates on the dynamics of a jam session

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Art Farmer tells us why the jazz community is incredible

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Frank Foster

Recorded September 24-25 and November 22, 1998

Though best known for his work in the Count Basie Orchestra, Frank Foster’s saxophone playing style owed more to the bebop of Charlie Parker. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Foster began playing clarinet at age 11 before taking up the alto saxophone and eventually the tenor. He played in Count Basie’s band for 11 years, providing compositions and arrangements for the band. He also was an extremely successful freelance writer, creating works performed by Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Frank Foster tells a funny story about Joe Williams

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Frank Foster on his musical inspiration

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Frank Foster on the names of his songs for the album Manhattan Fever

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Frank Foster describes playing at Indianapolis's Sunset Terrace with the Wilberforce Collegians and Sarah Vaughan sitting in

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Frank Foster gives his definition of Hard-Bop

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Frank Foster on joining Count Basie's band

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Von Freeman

Recorded Recorded May 23-24, 2000

A celebrated jazz tenor saxophonist, Von Freeman, was born and raised in Chicago and, outside of his years in the navy (1941-1945) when he played in a military band, he rarely performed outside of the city. Without leaving Chicago, Freeman managed to play with such legends as Charlie Parker, Sun Ra, and Dizzy Gillespie. Freeman actively avoided the road and, seemingly, fame; going so far as to turn down an opportunity from Miles Davis. Freeman credited his relative obscurity for the district and lauded sound he was able to create.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Von Freeman on changing times and music

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Von Freeman on playing for himself and others

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Von Freeman on playing with Charlie Parker

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Von Freeman on the star effect on jazz

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Curtis Fuller

Recorded September 25-26, 2010

Curtis Fuller was born in Detroit, and spent 10 years in an orphanage. He took up trombone after a nun took him to see a live jazz performance of Illinois Jacquet’s band. Fuller toured with Dizzy Gillespie and the Count Basie band, co-led the quintet Giant Bones with Kai Winding in 1979 and 1980, and played with Art Blakey, Cedar Walton, and Benny Golson in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Meeting Billie Holiday

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Relationship with Billie Holiday

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Benny Golson

Recorded January 8-9, 2009

Benny Golson is as renowned for his distinctive compositions and arrangements as for his innovative tenor saxophone playing. Golson began on the piano at age nine, moving to the saxophone at age 14. He has toured with Dizzy Gillespie, played in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and cofounded the group the Jazztet. Golson was born in Philadelphia.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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When Benny Golson saw Lionel Hampton play at the Earle Theater in Philadelphia PA, it became the inspiration he needed to master the saxophone

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Benny Golson broke all the rules when it came to music theory

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Benny Golson talks about the night Dizzy Gillespie asked him to record "I Remember Clifford"

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Benny Golson helps out John Coltrane and Miles Davis

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Benny Golson is his own man and his own style

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Lorraine Gordon

Recorded July 7, 2012

During her early career at the Blue Note record label, Lorraine Gordon helped to record and to promote legendary artists including Sidney Bechet and Thelonious Monk. Together with her husband Max, she later owned and operated the famous Village Vanguard, now the longest-running jazz club in New York City. Her memoir is entitled Alive at the Village Vanguard: My Life In and Out of Jazz Time. Lorraine Gordon was born in Newark, New Jersey.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Lorraine Gordon talks about the Newark Hot Club

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Lorraine Gordon talks about how she followed jazz through collecting records and learning its history

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Lorraine Gordon talks about knowing Miles Davis during the 50’s

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Lorraine Gordon reflects on her activism efforts on issues such as women’s rights and peace

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Lorraine Gordon describes the emotions she felt when she received the NEA Jazz Masters award

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Jim Hall

Recorded May 12-13, 2011

Jazz guitarist Jim Hall’s technique has been called subtle, and his compositions understated; yet his recording career has been anything but modest. He has collaborated with artists ranging from Bill Evans to Itzhak Perlman and performed alongside most of the jazz greats of the 20th century. The Buffalo, New York native was first modern jazz guitarist to receive an NEA Jazz Masters award.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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First Hearing Charlie Christian

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Meeting Sonny Rollins

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Chico Hamilton

Recorded January 9-10, 2006

Chico Hamilton was a subtle, creative drummer and skillful bandleader. As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles, Hamilton started playing regularly for the first time with a band that included classmates Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, and Illinois Jacquet. He has performed with Lena Horne Count Basie, and Chet Baker, and founded the Chico Hamilton Quintet.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Chico Hamilton describes the challenge of time keeping

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Chico Hamilton discusses meeting Dexter Gordon

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Chico Hamilton discusses drummer Jo Jones and the Count Basie Orchestra

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Chico Hamilton talks about drummer Art Blakely with the Billy Eckstein Orchestra

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Chico Hamilton discusses his encounter with Illinois Jacquet

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Chico Hamilton discusses meeting Larry Coryell

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Slide Hampton

Recorded April 20-21, 2006

A charismatic figure, master arranger, and formidable trombonist, Slide Hampton holds a place of distinction in the jazz tradition. He is the founder of the illustrious World of Trombones: an ensemble of nine trombones and a rhythm section. In 1989, with Paquito D’Rivera, he was musical director of Dizzy’s Diamond Jubilee, a year-long series of celebrations honoring Dizzy Gillespie’s 75th birthday. Hampton was born in Jeannette, PA.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Slide Hampton family band

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Slide Hampton talking about Art Blakey band's sound

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Difference between the Montgomery family band and the Hampton band

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Difference between composition, orchestration and arranging music

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Barry Harris

Recorded August 20, 2010

Barry Harris is part of an exceptional crew of Detroit-bred jazz musicians who rose through the extraordinary arts education program in the public school system during the 1930s and 1940s. Harris was house pianist at one of the hottest Detroit jazz spots, the Blue Bird Lounge, where he backed such traveling soloists as Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, and Lester Young. By the early 1980s, Harris’ acumen as a teacher of promising pianists had become legendary.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Barry Harris speaks about his ability to write music spontaneously

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Barry Harris discusses his view on why Jazz should be as valued as classical

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Barry Harris reminisces his experience listening to Charlie Parker

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Roy Haynes

Recorded May 15, 1994

A favorite sideman for many artists because of his crisply distinctive drumming style, Roy Haynes spent the late 1940s to mid-1950s, working with such greats as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Kai Winding. He later played in Monk’s band at the Five Spot Cafe before forming his own band in 1958. He joined Corea’s Trio Music band in 1981. Roy Haynes was born in Roxbury, MA.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Roy Haynes talks about John Coltrane

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Roy Haynes describes how he avoided being drafted to the Army

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Roy Haynes discusses the culture of Harlem and New York City

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Roy Haynes talks about playing at the Apollo Theater

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Roy Haynes tells what Lester Young calls a job

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Roy Haynes describes being misunderstood as a drummer.

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Jimmy Heath

Recorded January 9, 2010

Starting on alto saxophone (and acquiring the nickname “Little Bird” due to the influence of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker), one of Jimmy Heath’s first gigs came in a band led by Nat Towles, out of Omaha, Nebraska. Returning to his native Philadelphia, Heath briefly led his own big band with a saxophone section including John Coltrane and Benny Golson. Heath has made over 100 recordings and composed over 100 original works.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Jimmy Heath discusses composing music

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Jimmy Heath discusses jazz education

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Jimmy Heath discusses making connections in the music industry

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Jimmy Heath discusses the composition of his piece "Fashion or Passion"

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Jimmy Heath on his connection with Washington, D.C.

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Percy Heath

Recorded July 23, 2001

Percy Heath was the backbone of the popular jazz group Modern Jazz Quartet, and a superb bassist so sought after that he appeared on more than 200 jazz albums. Heath played with the MJQ, off and on, from its beginning in 1952 for more than 40 years. His talents on bass were also much in demand as the house player for both Prestige and Blue Note record labels.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Early relationship with John Coltrane

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Improvisation and the MJQ

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Role of the bass, MJQ collaborations with symphonies, Milt Jackson's musicianship

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Kenny Clarke's departure from the MJQ, relationship between bass and drums in jazz

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Milt Jackson's musicianship and the craft of improvisation

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Jon Hendricks

Recorded August 17-18, 1995

Jon Hendricks largely grew up in Toledo, Ohio, one of 17 children. He helped create the singing style known as “vocalese,” or crafting songs and lyrics out of the note sequences of instrumental solos. A gifted lyricist, he has contributed lyrics for Count Basie, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, and Art Blakey, brilliantly mirroring their instrumental effects.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Jon Hendricks on Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross

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Jon Hendricks on memorizing music

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Jon Hendricks on pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell

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Jon Hendricks on racism in the 1960's

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Jon Hendricks on studio recording

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Jon Hendricks on trumpeter Miles Davis and perfection

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Nat Hentoff

Recorded February 17-18, 2007

One of the major voices in jazz literature, Nat Hentoff has written about and championed jazz for more than half a century. Hentoff began his education at Northeastern University in Boston, his hometown, and went on to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University. In addition to his status as a renowned jazz historian and critic, Hentoff also is an expert on First Amendment rights, criminal justice, and education and has written a number of books on these topics.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Nat Hentoff talks about interviewing Bob Dylan

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Nat Hentoff on expressing individuality

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Nat Hentoff discusses George Frazier

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Nat Hentoff discusses interviewing Malcolm X

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Milt Hinton

Recorded August 12-13, 1992

Like many African-American families in the early part of the 20th century, bassist Milt Hinton’s family migrated north from Mississippi to Chicago, where he was raised. Hinton’s early career experience was centered around the Cab Calloway Orchestra. He played with Louis Armstrong between 1952-55, then became a staff musician for CBS, one of the first African-American musicians welcomed into the TV studios.

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Playing With Cab Calloway

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Photography

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Favorite Recording Sessions

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Bill Holman

Recorded February 18-19, 2010

Bill Holman’s unique and complex arrangements have long been appreciated by musicians and critics alike, although the Californian’s work is best known on the West Coast. After writing for Charlie Barnet, in 1952 he began his association with Stan Kenton, for whom he would compose (and perform) for many years to come. To date, Holman has won three Grammy Awards.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Bill Holman describes writing for singer Tony Bennett and the Count Basie band

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Bill Holman on writing for drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich

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Bill Holman talks about the west coast jazz scene in the early 1950's

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Bobby Hutcherson

Recorded December 8-9, 2010

As a child in Los Angeles, Bobby Hutcherson studied piano with his aunt, but his interest in becoming a professional musician was sparked after hearing vibraphonist Milt Jackson playing on a recording of the Thelonious Monk song “Bemsha Swing.” His sound and innovative style on the vibraphone helped revitalize the instrument in the 1960s, adding an adventurous new voice to the free jazz and post-bop eras.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Bobby Hutcherson on creating something new

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Bobby Hutcherson on scales

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Bobby Hutcherson on playing thoughtfully

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Bobby Hutcherson on Randall Kline and the Collective

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Bobby Hutcherson on music's place in life

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J.J. Johnson

Recorded February 26-27, 1994

Often referred to as the “Charlie Parker of the trombone” due to his uncanny musical dexterity and fluency, James Louis “J.J.” Johnson dominated his instrument for more than 40 years. In the late 1950s, he began to gain recognition as a composer. In 1987, he returned to his hometown Indianapolis and began playing, touring, and recording again.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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J.J. Johnson on being articulate

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"I am not at all preoccupied with speed"

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J.J. Johnson on opening for Coleman Hawkins at the Three Deuces

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J.J. Johnson on Dizzy Gillespie

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J.J. Johnson on Miles Davis' caring nature

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J.J. Johnson on why he bought his first car and the reason behind it, a great JJ and Kai Winding story

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Elvin Jones

Recorded June 10-11, 2003

The youngest of ten siblings, Elvin Jones began learning the drums during his middle school years in his hometown of Pontiac, Michigan. His propulsive style powered the John Coltrane Quartet during his six-year stint with the group and influenced countless percussionists that followed him over the past 40 years. He toured extensively with his group Jazz Machine and made later recordings with Cecil Taylor, Dewey Redman, Dave Holland, and Bill Frisell.

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Elvin Jones talks about cymbals

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Elvin Jones talks about being inspired by Duke Ellington

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Hank Jones

Recorded November 26-27, 2004

Hank Jones, a member of the famous jazz family that includes brothers cornetist Thad and drummer Elvin, served as a pianist in a vast array of settings, always lending a distinctive, swinging sensibility to the sessions. Although born in Mississippi, Jones grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, listening to such performers as Earl Hines, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Different audiences and how most audiences are oriented to rock, not jazz

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Duke Ellington

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How important it is to practice regularly and how much of a difference it makes

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The impact of church music

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Jones talks about his studio work in New York

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Quincy Jones

Recorded September 7, 2008

Born in Chicago and raised in Seattle, Quincy Jones began learning the trumpet as a teenager. He moved to New York City in the early 1950s, finding work as an arranger and musician with Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Lionel Hampton. He has distinguished himself in just about every aspect of music, including as a bandleader, record producer, musical composer and arranger, trumpeter, and record label executive. He has worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Frank Sinatra, to Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Michael Caine teaches Quincy Jones Cockney Slang

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Michael Caine teaches Quincy Jones Cockney Slang part 2

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Quincy Jones talks about the birth of African rhythm and Blues

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Sheila Jordan

Recorded August 29-30, 2011

Sheila Jordan is not only one of the premier singers in jazz, but she is known for her stimulating vocal workshops as well. Jordan, née Dawson, grew up in Pennsylvania’s coal mining country with her grandparents, singing in school and on amateur radio shows. Upon moving to New York City in the early ’50s, Jordan sang in clubs and at jam sessions with some of the city’s jazz giants, including Charles Mingus, Herbie Nichols, and Parker.

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Sheila Jordan talks about the influence music had on her as a young girl in Detroit

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Sheila Jordan describes how Charlie Parker’s musical skill captivated her interests

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Sheila Jordan elaborates on her first professional recording experience with George Russell

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Sheila Jordan talks about her skill of improvising lyrics and her composure on stage

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Orrin Keepnews

Recorded December 10, 2010

Orrin Keepnews is a New York based jazz producer and co-founder of historic record labels Riverside, Milestone, and Landmark. Over his 60 years in the industry, Keepnews has signed and produced work from countless artists, including Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, and Wes Montgomery. He has also been instrumental in the re-issuing of many jazz legends including Louis Armstrong.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Decline in Jazz

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Exposure to Jazz

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On Bruce Lundvall

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Refusing a Piano

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Role of Producers

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Lee Konitz

Recorded February 14-15, 2010

Lee Konitz was one of the more distinctive alto saxophonists in jazz since Charlie Parker, pairing his individual style and voice with a strong sense of innovation. Born to an Austrian father and a Russian mother in Chicago, Konitz as a youth studied clarinet, then alto saxophone with various teachers. Today, the 85 year-old divides his time between residences in the United States and Germany and continues to travel and perform around the globe.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Lee Konitz discusses his relationship with Charlie Parker

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Lee Konitz reflecting on his legacy

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Lee Konitz recalling receiving the NEA Jazz Master Award

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Yusef Lateef

Recorded June 21, 2000

Yusef Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A virtuoso on traditional jazz instruments saxophone and flute, he also enriches his music through mastery of such Middle Eastern and Asian reed instruments as the bamboo flute, shanaishofarargol, and taiwan koto. A major force on the international musical scene for more than six decades, he was one of the first to bring a world music approach to traditional jazz.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Yusef Lateef talks about the seriousness and the emotional side of music

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Yusef Lateef talks about the innovations of Dizzy Gillespie

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Yusef Lateef talks about the tradition of developing a unique sound in jazz

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Yusef Lateef renames "jazz" as "autophysiopsychic music"

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Hubert Laws

Recorded March 4-5, 2011

Hubert Laws won a classical scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, studying with master flutist Julius Baker. At the same time, he was gigging at night, playing with jazz and Latin musicians including Mongo Santamaria, Lloyd Price, and John Lewis. He is one of the very few to specialize on the flute in jazz, and has become the premier musician on the instrument. In three decades of playing, he has also mastered pop, rhythm-and-blues, and classical genres.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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The Classical Flute

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Differences in Classical and Jazz Approach

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Classical Composers

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Working with Quincy Jones

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Stevie Wonder

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Bridging Classical and Jazz

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John Levy

Recorded December 10-11, 2006

John Levy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1912. As a musician, he performed as a bassist, however he is also renowned as a leading representative of jazz musicians and the first African American personal manager. Levy’s client roster over the years has included Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Arsenio Hall,Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Ramsey Lewis, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. Levy has received a certificate of appreciation from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, induction into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Los Angeles Jazz Society.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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John Levy on friendships and segregation

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John Levy on how he learned bass

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John Levy on entering the world of music

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"The president of the black musician's union called..."

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John Levy on Duke Ellington

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John Levy on the publishing business

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Ramsey Lewis

Recorded September 28-29, 2011

With a style that springs from his early gospel experience, classical training, and deep love of jazz, pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis has built a decades-long career as one of America’s most popular performers. Born in Chicago, he began taking piano lessons at the age of four and credits his teacher with awakening him to the communicative power of music. Active in community affairs, especially on behalf of youth, Lewis helped organize the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz Mentor Program.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Ramsey Lewis learns how to “make the piano sing” from his teacher Dorothy Mendelsohn

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Ramsey Lewis talks about how attitudes changed after the hit record In The Crowd by the Ramsey Lewis Trio

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Ramsey Lewis discusses the influence the Modern Jazz Quintet and Oscar Peterson had on him

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Ramsey Lewis talks about the errors the educational system has placed on Jazz

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Ramsey Lewis talks about a good word of advice from Billy Taylor

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Ramsey Lewis talks about Proclamation of Hope, his musical piece dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln

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Dave Liebman

Recorded January 4-5, 2011

Born in Brooklyn, soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman founded Free Life Communication, a cooperative of several dozen young musicians that became an integral part of the fertile New York “loft” jazz scene in the 1970s. Throughout his career, Liebman has also worked on the international jazz scene, playing with influential European musicians Joachim Kühn, Jon Christensen, and Bobo Stenson.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Seeing Coltrane for the first time

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Playing with Elvin Jones

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First Recording with Miles

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The Meaning of Music

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Abbey Lincoln

Recorded December 17-18, 1996

Strongly influenced by Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, both of whom she met early in her career, Abbey Lincoln’s distinctive vocal style, thought-provoking writing, and spirited personality secured her a place among the jazz luminaries. Lincoln was born in Chicago and raised in rural Michigan. She also acted, appearing in the films Nothing But A Man and For Love of Ivy and on television in Mission: Impossible and The Flip Wilson Show.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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How the greats influenced modern singers

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The voice as the greatest instrument

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The individual as the greatest instrument

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Stage fright

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On modern music

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Melba Liston

Recorded December 4-5, 1996

Although a formidable trombone player, Melba Liston was primarily known for her composition and arrangements. Growing up in Los Angeles, some of her first work during the 1940s was with two West Coast masters: bandleader Gerald Wilson and tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon. During the 1960s, Liston co-led a band with trumpeter Clark Terry, and wrote for the Duke Ellington orchestra, as well as Tony Bennett and Eddie Fisher. Her career helped pave the way for women in jazz in roles other than as vocalists.

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Melba Liston talks about the differences between writing music Mingus and Monk

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Melba Liston explains how she arranges music

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Charles Lloyd

Recorded October 20, 2014

Born in Memphis, Tennessee and known, among other accomplishments, for helping break ground for the jazz scene on the west coast, Charles Lloyd is a seasoned saxophonist and flute player. After playing with masters such as Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, and Cannonball Adderley, Lloyd formed his own group and, in 1966, recorded Forest Flower: Live at Monterey, which was one of the first jazz albums to sell over one million copies. Lloyd is praised for his unique ability to blend jazz and world music.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Lloyd on spiritual life

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Lloyd discussing his chance to be in California, and his encounter with nuns

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Lloyd on seeking sounds

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Lloyd discussing his experience in Goa

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Lloyd on his mentor, Master Collette

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Johnny Mandel

Recorded April 12-20, 1995

Johnny Mandel is considered one of the nation’s top composer/arrangers in jazz, pop, and film music. In the 1940s, he played the trumpet with Joe Venuti and Billy Rogers, and trombone in the orchestras of Boyd Rayburn, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Georgie Auld, and Chubby Jackson. Mandel has received five Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year for Tony Bennett’s performance of “The Shadow of Your Smile.”

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Johnny Mandel explains his early polyphonic arranging for jazz band

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Johnny Mandel discusses Gil Evans, his influences and associates

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Johnny Mandel discusses the process of scoring music for films

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Johnny Mandel explains his approach towards orchestration

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Johnny Mandel talks about writing the theme for the critically acclaimed movie MASH

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Branford Marsalis

Recorded May 24-25, 2012

Branford Marsalis is the son of Ellis Marsalis. For two years during the 1990s, Branford was the musical director of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, making jazz more widely known to the general public. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Branford teamed with Harry Connick, Jr. and Habitat for Humanity to create Musicians’ Village in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward to assist New Orleans musicians.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Branford Marsalis talks about the uniqueness of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins

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Branford Marsalis explains the importance of connecting with the audience

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Branford Marsalis talks about his experience with the Tonight Show

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Branford Marsalis talks about joining Sting’s band

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Branford Marsalis talks about receiving the NEA Jazz Master Award

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Delfeayo Marsalis

Recorded January 13, 2011

Delfeayo Marsalis has proven himself a well-regarded jazz producer, working with various family members throughout the years. His insistence upon recording “without usage of the dreaded bass direct” for Branford in the 1980s was a crucial change in jazz recording techniques over the past 20 years. As a noted trombonist, Delfeayo has both played on his brothers’ albums and fronted his own band.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Delfeayo Marsalis describes the atmosphere of growing up with Branford, Wynton and Ellis

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Delfeayo talks about how the Trombone became an extension of his personality

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Delfeayo talks about the impact Elvin Jones and Art Blakey

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Delfeayo talks about recording the Pontius Pilate Decision

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Ellis Marsalis

Recorded November 8-9, 2010

Ellis Marsalis was born in New Orleans, in 1934. Although the city was noted for Dixieland and rhythm-and-blues, Ellis was more interested in bebop. In addition to his skillful piano playing, he became the director of jazz studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts high school in 1974, mentoring such contemporary artists as Terence Blanchard, and Harry Connick, Jr.

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Ellis Marsalis talks about why he did not enjoy the musical atmosphere of Los Angeles

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Ellis Marsalis talks about his experience in teaching and with the NEA

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Ellis Marsalis talks about the aspects of jazz education

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Ellis Marsalis talks about the contribution and recognition of Louis Armstrong

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Ellis Marsalis gives a depiction on how Mardi Gras was years ago

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Jason Marsalis

Recorded November 7, 2010

Jason Marsalis, the youngest of the Marsalis sons, took up drumming at age six and began sitting in with his father’s band at age seven, then made his recording debut at age 13 on Delfeayo’s Pontius Pilate’s Decision. He joined the band Los Hombres Calientes with Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers in 1998, playing on their first two albums, which blended Afro-Cuban and Latin American elements with jazz.

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Jason Marsalis talks about deciding to give up violin to pursue the drums

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Jason Marsalis talks about his classical influences

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Jason Marsalis talks about being captured by Return to Forever

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Jason Marsalis talks about the impact Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans music

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Jason Marsalis talks about fusing classical and jazz in Gershwin's "Concerto in F"

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Tom McIntosh

Recorded December 9-10, 2011

Though not well known outside of jazz circles, the unique voice of composer and arranger Tom “Mac” McIntosh made him a favorite of Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Milt Jackson, and Tommy Flanagan, among other jazz giants. McIntosh was born and raised in Baltimore. After a stint with the Army, he attended Juilliard and later became an active participant in the New York jazz scene as a trombone player and composer.

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Tom McIntosh talks about his influence on established jazz musicians early in his career

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Tom McIntosh Talks about his unheralded experience while composing music with Isaac Hayes

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Jackie McLean

Recorded July 20-21, 2001

Possessing one of the most recognizable alto saxophone sounds, Jackie McLean explored the cutting edge of jazz creativity. He grew up in a musical family in New York City: his father was a guitarist and his stepfather owned a record store. During McLean’s busiest period in the 1950s, he worked with pianist George Wallington, drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and bassist Charles Mingus. McLean and his wife Dollie founded the Artists Collective, a community center and fine arts school, primarily for troubled youth.

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Playing with Dizzy Gillespie

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Meeting Bud Powell

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Playing with Miles Davis

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James Moody

Recorded August 19-20, 1993

A champion of Dizzy Gillespie’s music, James Moody was accomplished on the tenor and alto saxophones, as well as on the flute, despite being born partially deaf. Moody was an engaging entertainer, captivating audiences with his personal charm and wit. Although born in Savannah, he was raised in Newark, New Jersey. His interest in jazz was sparked by a trumpet-playing father who gigged in the Tiny Bradshaw band. He led his own bands, and worked alongside Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, with whom he co-led a three-tenor sax band.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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James Moody discusses what he could do if he could do anything

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James Moody talks about when he became interested in music

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James Moody discusses being drafted into the Air Force and learning that white German prisoners of war had more rights than Negro American soldiers

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Moody pretends to be Milt Shaw's valet in order to get a bath

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The circumstances under which Moody recorded Moody's Mood for Love and found out he had a hit

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Jazz at the Philharmonic with Moody, Clark Terry, and T-Bone Walker: "Woman, you must be crazy"

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Dan Morgenstern

Recorded March 28-29, 2007

Dan Morgenstern is a jazz historian, author, editor, and educator who has been active in jazz since 1958. Born in Germany and reared in Austria and Denmark, Morgenstern came to the United States in 1947. He was chief editor of DownBeat from 1967 to 1973. He served on the faculties of the Institutes in Jazz Criticism, jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the Music Critics Association. He is on the faculty of the Masters Program in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers University and is Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies there.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Dan Morgenstern discusses his role as the editor of Downbeat

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Dan Morgenstern describes escaping from Austria to Denmark

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Dan Morgenstern remembers his first encounter with jazz

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Dan Morgenstern describes jazz in Denmark

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Escaping to Sweden Part II

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Dan Morgenstern talks about becoming interested in jazz after the war

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Jimmy Owens

Recorded September 10-11, 2011

Jimmy Owens is a jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, educator, and music education consultant. His advocacy for the rights of jazz artists led to the founding of the Jazz Musician’s Emergency Fund, a program of the Jazz Foundation of America. Owens attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City, and studied composition with Henry Bryant and trumpet with Donald Byrd. Owens is an active advocate for jazz artists’ rights.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Jimmy Owens talks about his musical experiences in Africa

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Jimmy Owens talks about the times he spent traveling with Lionel Hampton

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Jimmy Owens discusses the business side of music

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Jimmy Owens talks about Jimmy Owens Plus

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Jimmy Owens talks about meeting Miles for the first time when he was 14

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Eddie Palmieri

Recorded March 24, 2016

Known as one of the finest Latin jazz pianists of the past 50 years, Eddie Palmieri is also known as a bandleader of both salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. His playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the melody and complexity of his jazz influences: his older brother Charlie, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. In 1988, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, recorded two of Palmieri’s performances for its archives.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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on the Term "Latin Jazz"

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Music Can Be Exciting

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Racial Profiling

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Troubles of Being a Cuban in America

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Unfortunate Categorization of Latin Jazz

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Sonny Rollins

Recorded February 28, 2011

With more than 50 years in jazz, Theodore “Sonny” Rollins’ towering achievements on the tenor saxophone are many, and he continues to be an exciting and fiery musician in concert. He served as a sideman on sessions with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Farmer, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Sonny Rollins talks about what attracted him to jazz

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Sonny Rollins talks about approaching established musicians during his early years

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Sonny Rollins describes what makes a good improvisation as well as his positioning on stage

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Sonny Rollins talks about his repertoire outside of the usual jazz standards

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Annie Ross

Recorded January 13-14, 2011

Annie Ross was born in England, and raised in Los Angeles. She began her singing career in Europe, working with musicians such as James Moody, Kenny Clarke, and Coleman Hawkins. Between 1957 and 1962, her group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross recorded seven albums, including the one that put them in the spotlight: Sing A Song Of Basie. Ross also is an accomplished actress and has appeared in a number of films, including Superman III, Throw Mama from the Train, and Pump Up the Volume.

Complete Transcript: View PDF

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Annie Ross discusses her experience when she first came to America at Ellis Island

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Annie Ross describes her act for a competition sponsored by MGM when she was a young girl

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Annie Ross reflects on her musical experiences in Paris

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Annie Ross describes her experience singing for Duke Ellington as a young 14 year old girl

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Annie Ross talks about her struggle and ability to overcome the substance abuse lifestyle associated with musicians

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Annie reflects on why it is so important to respect musicians

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George Russell

Recorded May 3-5, 2004

George Russell was a composer and one of the most important jazz theorists of the latter half of the 20th century. His theories on modes influenced Miles Davis and Bill Evans, leading to the creation of Davis’ masterpiece, Kind of Blue. In addition to teaching and lecturing at conservatories and universities, Russell was the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and grants, including a MacArthur award, two Guggenheim fellowships, and election to the Royal Swedish Academy.

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Modal Thinking

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Gil Evans and Sound

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Publishing the Book

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Music and Meaning

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Gunther Schuller

Recorded June 3-4, 2008

Gunther Schuller was born in New York City in 1925. At age 17, he joined the Cincinnati Symphony as principal horn. Two years later, he joined the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera while also becoming active in the New York bebop scene, performing and recording with such greats as Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus. Schuller wrote more than 180 compositions in a wide range of styles and won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in music forOf Reminiscences and Reflections. He also received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

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Early introduction of Duke Ellington on the radio

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The expansion of writing for strings, French horn in jazz

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Talking about Ornette Coleman

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Gunther's development in conducting for orchestras

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Jimmy Scott

Recorded September 23-24, 2008

For more than five decades, Jimmy Scott numbered among the jazz world’s best singers. Billie Holiday once named him as a vocalist she admired. Scott was born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, and as a child was diagnosed with Kallmann syndrome, a rare condition that prevented him from experiencing puberty. Because of his condition, his voice never changed, giving his singing an almost otherworldly sound.

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Jimmy Scott talks about how Lester Young launched him into performing

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Jimmy Scott is truly his own man

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Jimmy Scott plays with Charlie Parker at the famous Birdland club

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Joe Segal

Recorded October 6, 2014

Joe Segal, the legendary jazz promoter, first heard jazz in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Earl Theater. After a tenure in the army Segal enrolled in Roosevelt University in Chicago where he started presenting jazz shows as a member of the student jazz club. Though he no longer holds membership to the club he still presents shows through The Jazz Showcase. Segal’s Showcase, having been established in 1947, is the oldest continuous jazz venue in the windy city. The Jazz Showcase has presented shows in over 63 venues.

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Joe Segal having Charlie Parker play with the Jazz All Stars.

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Joe Segal talking about the concept of the Matinee.

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Joe Segal talking about James Moody.

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Wayne Shorter

Recorded September 24, 2012

Equally renowned as a composer and saxophonist, Wayne Shorter has contributed many songs to the jazz canon while helping to evolve the genre over the last 40 years. He has received nine Grammy Awards. Born in Newark, New Jersey, he is a major influence on the generations of musicians who have entered the scene since the 1970s. In 2001, he began touring and releasing recordings with a new quartet comprised of Danilo Pérez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Brian Blade on drums.

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How to Treat People

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Charlie Parker’s Violin Book

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Removing Ego to Play Without a Net

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Showing the Struggle

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Remembering Stan Getz

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Billy Taylor

Recorded November 19, 1993

After growing up in Washington, DC, Dr. Billy Taylor earned a degree at Virginia State College. He spent the 1940s playing clubs on New York’s famed 52nd Street, where he performed with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stuff Smith, Slam Stewart, and Don Redman. His adroit piano playing enabled him to cross over freely from swing to the then-burgeoning modern jazz called bebop.

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about moving to New York and going straight to Minton’s and playing with Ben Webster

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auditioning for Ben Webster and meeting Art Tatum at the same time

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his relationship with Charlie Parker Part I.

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relationship with Charlie Parker Part II.

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how he came to name one of Dizzy Gillespie’s tunes.

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the impact of Charlie Parker’s death on the jazz community.

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Clark Terry

Recorded June 15 and 22, 1999

Clark Terry is the consummate freelance musician, able to add a distinctive element to whatever band or jam session of which he is a part. His exuberant, swinging horn playing was an important contribution to Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands. In addition, his use of the flugelhorn as an alternative to trumpet influenced Art Farmer and Miles Davis, among others. As a jazz educator he was one of the earliest active practitioners to take time off from the road to enter the classroom, conducting numerous clinics and jazz camps.

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Clark Terry describes how Jimmie and Ernie Wilkins joined Count Basie's band

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Clark Terry on being late to an Ellington engagement

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Clark Terry talking about opening with the George Hudson band for Illinois Jacquet

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Clark Terry tells how he accidentally insulted Duke Ellington

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Clark Terry talks about playing high notes

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Toots Thielemans

Recorded August 31 and September 1, 2011

Harmonica player, guitarist, and whistler Jean Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans has been credited by jazz aficionados as being among the greatest jazz harmonica players of the 20th century, improvising on an instrument better known in folk and blues music. Born in Brussels, he immigrated to the United States in 1952, getting a chance to play with Charlie Parker’s All-Stars. His performance so impressed George Shearing that he invited Thielemans into his band, where he stayed until 1959.

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Toots talks about how he wasn’t received with open arms when he went to New York City

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Toots discusses the early influence jazz had on him

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Toots talks about impressing George Shearing at Carnegie Hall

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Toots talks about his relationship with pianists throughout his career

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Toots talks about his honors outside of music

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Rudy Van Gelder

Recorded November 5, 2011

Rudy Van Gelder is considered by many to be the greatest recording engineer in jazz. He has recorded practically every major jazz musician of the 1950s and 1960s on thousands of albums. The signature Van Gelder sound features a clearly defined separation among the instruments, ensuring that every sonic detail is clear and audible. This was accomplished by the strategic placement of instruments in the studio, though his exact technique has always been a closely guarded secret.

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Live Recording in Clubs

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Building a Studio

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Pressures of Working in the Studio

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About Coltrane

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Cedar Walton

Recorded October 2-3, 2010

Cedar Walton was first taught piano by his mother, growing up in Dallas, Texas. One of Walton’s most significant musical associations was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his years with Blakey (1961-64), Walton stepped forward as composer, contributing originals such as “Mosaic,” “Ugetsu,” and “The Promised Land” to the group’s repertoire. Some of his compositions, including “Bolivia,” “Clockwise,” and “Firm Roots,” have become standards.

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Cedar Walton talks about the feeling he received when listening to composers such as Shostakovich and Stravinsky

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Cedar Walton discusses his relationship with John Coltrane

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Cedar Walton talks about music in his current life

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Cedar talks about his work with Stevie Wonder

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George Wein

Recorded May 11, 2011

A professional pianist from his early teens, George Wein led a band in his native Boston, frequently accompanying visiting jazz musicians. In 1950, he opened his own club, formed the Storyville record label, and launched his career as a jazz entrepreneur. He is renowned for his work in organizing music festivals, and in particular for creating the Newport Jazz Festival, an event that, according to the late jazz critic Leonard Feather, started the “festival era.”

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George Wein recounts Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars visiting his club

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George Wein on surviving in an atmosphere you love

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George Wein defines what a real jazz musician is

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George Wein describes the difference of music across cultures

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George Wein on giving talent an opportunity to be heard

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Frank Wess

Recorded January 10, 2010

A multi-instrumentalist whose inspired solos have kept big-band jazz fresh and vital into the present, Kansas City native Frank Wess is revered as a smoothly swinging tenor saxophone player in the Lester Young tradition, as an expert alto saxophonist, and as one of the most influential, instantly recognizable flutists in jazz history.

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Frank Wess on connecting with the audience

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Frank Wess on improvisation and folk music

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Frank Wess on learning when to stop

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Randy Weston

Recorded October 23, 2009

Pianist and composer Randy Weston has spent most of his career combining the rich music of the African continent with the African-American tradition of jazz, mixing rhythms and melodies into a musical hybrid. He toured 14 African countries with his ensemble in 1967 on a State Department tour, eventually settling in Rabat, Morocco. He later moved to Tangier, opening the African Rhythms Club in 1969. Since returning to the U.S. in 1972, he has lived in his native Brooklyn, NY.

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Randy Weston describes his experiences in Japan after his sister's funeral in New York, NY on September 11, 2001

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Randy Weston Describes the influence of African music on Western musicians

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Randy Weston describes the Jazz festival he organized in Tangier in 1972

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Randy Weston discusses hardship and spirituality in relation to music

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Randy Weston discusses his inspiration for recording solo piano albums.

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Joe Wilder

Recorded January 9, 2010

Joe Wilder grew up in Colwyn, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. His father was a bassist and bandleader. The trumpeter has played with a virtual Who’s Who of jazz — Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Quincy Jones, John Lewis, Charles Mingus, George Russell, and Dinah Washington, to name just a few.

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Joe Wilder discusses bandleader Jimmie Lunceford

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Joe Wilder discusses his teaching philosophy

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Joe Wilder on going to school with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco in Philadelphia, Pa.

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Gerald Wilson

Recorded February 15, 2010

Gerald Wilson’s use of multiple harmonies is a hallmark of his big bands, earning him a reputation as a leading composer and arranger. He was born in 1918 in Shelby, Mississippi. After his family moved to Detroit in 1934, he was able to concentrate on his music and was soon playing professionally. He has contributed his skill as an arranger and composer to artists ranging from Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, and Ella Fitzgerald to the Los Angeles Philharmonic to his guitarist-son Anthony.

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Gerald Wilson describes an experience with Duke Ellington

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Gerald Wilson discusses his Grammy award nominations

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Gerald Wilson discusses his Mexican influences and his tune "Viva Tirado"

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Gerald Wilson discusses his relationship with trumpeter Miles Davis

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Gerald Wilson discusses how he became leader of his first band in Los Angeles, California

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Gerald Wilson discusses the origins of his tune "Yard-dog Mazurka"

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Nancy Wilson

Recorded December 6, 2010

Nancy Wilson began her singing career on the Columbus, Ohio, club circuit while still in high school, and in 1956 she became a member of Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Band. During her years recording as a solo artist with Capitol Records, she was second in sales only to the Beatles. Although she often has crossed over to pop and rhythm-and-blues recordings, she still is best known for her jazz performances. Wilson also hosted NPR’s Jazz Profiles, a weekly documentary series, from 1986 to 2005.

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Nancy Wilson talks about her approach when singing in the studio

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Nancy Wilson talks about how the events of JFK’s assassination effected her. She always talks about singing for movies

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Nancy Wilson talks about her efforts during the Civil Rights movement beside activists such as Martin Luther King

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Nancy Wilson discusses her work for the Nixon and Johnson administration

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Nancy Wilson talks about her association with the comedian Aresnio Hall

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Phil Woods

Recorded June 22-23, 2010

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Philip Wells Woods has devoted himself to the alto saxophone since the age of 12. Woods performed in Buddy Rich’s quintet and toured Europe with Quincy Jones and the U.S.S.R. with Benny Goodman. He remains active internationally as a bandleader, composer-arranger, and soloist.

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Phil Woods describes meeting saxophonist Charlie Parker for the first time

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Phil Woods discusses his first saxophone lesson

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Phil Woods discusses horn troubles and motivation

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Phil Woods on being a well-rounded musician

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Phil Woods on composing music

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Phil Woods on doing what you love to do

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Snooky Young

Recorded February 24-25, 2009

Known for his prowess with the plunger mute, Eugene Edward “Snooky” Young’s trumpet playing was most often heard in the context of the big band. For 30 years, he was heard every weeknight as a member of The Tonight Show orchestra. Young led his own band in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, and performed with both Lionel Hampton and Count Basie. His work appeared on numerous soundtracks, including The Color Purple.

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Snooky talking about Roy Eldridge

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Snooky joining Jimmie Lunceford band

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Talking about his band and its members

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