Night Train kicks off the July feature celebrating the 75th birthday of soul jazz organ great and 2017 NEA Jazz Master, Dr. Lonnie Smith, on his actual birthday today. There are also birthday salutes to another fine organist Rhoda Scott, contemporary soul-jazz guitarist Charlie Apicella, and singers Melissa Walker and also the great Johnny Hartman, who will be the subject of a Jazz Profiles special in hour two of the show.
Night Train steps aside for two holiday specials for the Fourth of July.
In the first hour, a salute to the birth and legacy of America with music from a set of duets from national icons Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong (whose birthday was long thought to fall on the same day as the holiday) along with patriotic popular songs from Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Paul Robeson, Peggy Lee, Margaret Whiting, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles and Paul Desmond.
Then in hour two it’s the Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, in a live performance with special guest, trumpeter Terell Stafford.
Night Train marks birthdays of alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe (featuring his work as a leader), violinist Mads Tolling (including an appearance with the Turtle Island Quartet), and also Tommy LiPuma (with albums he produced for Diana Krall, Shirley Horn, George Benson, Eric Reed, Russell Malone and more). Plus more from July featured artist, soul jazz organ great Dr. Lonnie Smith, and new music from Gerry Gibbs’s tribute to Weather Report, Afro-Haitian jazz fusion artist Jowee Omicil, and pianist and singer Eliane Elias.
Night Train highlights a variety of jazz organists tonight – including July featured artist Dr. Lonnie Smith , pioneering players Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, Mel Rhyne and John Patton, and contemporary artists John Medeski, Mike LeDonne, and Joey DeFrancesco. Plus the latest from pianist Ahmad Jamal and the Hudson supergroup of Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski and John Scofield, and classics from Jean-Luc Ponty and Alice Coltrane.