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A. BANKS/MRTJAZZ.COM

Mardra and Reggie Thomas are a husband-wife jazz team from DeKalb, Illinois.  Mardra is a vocalist with a theatrical background.  Reggie is a pianist and coordinator of the jazz program at Northern Illinois University.  They'll play the Front Street Music Fest in downtown Bloomington August 20, where they'll feature music from their new album "Matters of the Heart."  Reggie Thomas said he appreciates when fans refer to their recordings as "albums."

Radio Munson 8/18/16

Aug 18, 2016

One of Duke Ellington’s most haunting compositions was “Creole Love Call,” and Duke’s band plays it on this week’s Radio Munson; plus a newly-discovered recording by jazz guitar innovator Wes Montgomery, vocals from Billy Eckstine, Johnny Hartman, and Eydie Gorme, and a rousing 1938 concert swinger by Benny Goodman.

Dylan Langille (OntheDL)

Transcendental Folk is a term often used to describe the music of Nederland, Colorado based Elephant Revival.   The town of 1500 sits in the rarified hills just southwest of Boulder. 8200 feet above sea level, this mountain town with a mining past has a burgeoning music scene far surpassing its small population.  Elephant Revival's fiddle player Bridget Law says the high profile artists utilizing the now legendary Caribou Ranch Recording Studio just outside Nederland helped the town become home to a concentrated group of talented musicians.

Radio Munson 8/11/16

Aug 16, 2016

How hot is it?  Don totes out the ultimate cooler on this week's Radio Munson, “T’aint No Sin (To Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around In Your Bones)”  Drummer Gregg Field’s band plays “The Heat’s On,”  Mizz Elizabeth and The Hot Sardines offer “Honeysuckle Rose,” and 1950s pop star Frankie Laine show his jazz chops with Buck Clayton’s band singing “Until the Real Thing Comes Along."

Radio Munson 8/4/16

Aug 9, 2016

Radio Munson returns to GLT from summer vacation with Andy Farber's "Seems Like Old Times" kicking off a swinging Thursday evening.  Don has lined up sides from Will Bradley's band, vocalists Lena Horne, Nat Cole and Diana Krall plus, as we head into the dog days of summer, an upbeat Artie Shaw version of "Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog gone."

@jeffbeckmusic

60 years into a career seems like an odd time to shake things up, but for iconic guitarist and blues-man Jeff Beck, the timing could not be any more perfect.

Miami bluesman Albert Castiglia returns to central Illinois early next month, and this time he's touring on what critics are calling his finest album.  Castiglia says he agrees with with what his critics are saying about the album titled "Big Dog," and credits the albums producer Mike Zito.

"Because Mike and I are cut out of a similar cloth musically, and we both grew up listening to blues and rock music made it a good pairing. There's an edge to this album.  Mike dialed in my guitar sound. When we met at the studio, he brought his trailer full of all the equipment he owns.  We experimented with sound and he really got my guitar sound to what I sound like live.  And vocally he pushed me to heights I never thought possible."

Required Listening: The First Half of 2016

Jul 22, 2016
@carseatheadrest

2016 has been a year of major loss in the music community. But halfway through the year, an incredible array of music has been released to help the healing process. WGLT's Taylor Bauer takes a look at five releases that caught his eye in the first half of 2016.

Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool

@chrisyoungmusic

Country music is changing in just about every way. A more pop-friendly sound, sold out stadium tours, and a fresh batch of new talent is challenging tradition and moving the genre to new heights. Don't panic; the classic country style is still alive and well.

Radio Munson 7/14/16

Jul 18, 2016

Benny Carter, Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy, Dinah Shore, Cab Calloway and Liza Minelli help Don turn back the clock on this week’s Radio Munson, plus, for good measure, a rousing version of “How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree."

This is a story of an improbable musical collaboration. It all began years ago, when a central Illinois woman bore two sons. One was given up for adoption. The second she raised with her husband. The two half-brothers met for the first time six years ago, and quickly found the musical interests they shared ran deep. WGLT's Jon Norton has their story.

Radio Munson 7/7/16

Jul 11, 2016

Perhaps the greatest jazz solo ever recorded happened in Newport, Rhode Island, during the early morning hours 60 years ago this Thursday.  The spontaneous occasion closed the last set at the third annual Newport Jazz Festival with the Duke Ellington Orchestra on stage and tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves at the mic.  What happened next was jazz magic, and Don puts you there in the front row, 60 years ago, on this week’s Radio Munson.  

Dave Frenzia

Jazz has taken Normal native Adam Larson to nearly all points on the globe.  The U-High grad has also been on the receiving end of critical praise from high places.  Longtime Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich says Larson is “a player for whom the word ‘prodigious’ was coined.”  Despite the acclaim, Larson said he still struggles with high, self-imposed expectations.

"Sometimes during school I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the wrong stuff.  For example, looking at other people's success as anything else but admiration and joy."

marccohnmusic.com

Twenty-five summers ago, the gospel-tinged pop song "Walking In Memphis" was in heavy rotation on Top-40 radio across the country, including stations in central Illinois.  The song was the first single released from Marc Cohn's eponymous major label debut, peaking at #13 in July of 1991.  Though Cohn continues to record and tour, no other song he has written or recorded since has come close to matching the commercial or chart success of that song. 

Radio Munson 6/30/16

Jul 6, 2016

Some early Independence Day Weekend fireworks on this week’s Radio Munson from Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band, Keely Smith, and trombonists John Allred and Wycliffe Gordon; plus Frank Sinatra, Lee Wiley, Michael Buble and more. 

Jerrod Campbell

Two months ago, NPR's Morning Edition challenged listeners to reinvent its theme music. Submissions since have spanned genres, including ambient, dubstep, reggae, waltz, jazz, and blues. Illinois State University School of Music Professor Mark Grizzard recently took up the challenge.  

Grizzard said he's "an NPR addict" who listens to Morning Edition on his commute from his home in Peoria to his teaching position at ISU, and his Doctoral studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  With choral as his specialty, a choral arrangement of the Morning Edition theme was an obvious choice.

Radio Munson 6/23/16

Jun 24, 2016

Tony Bennett is on Don’s playlist for this week’s Radio Munson, along with Lee Wiley, Joe Williams, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Sarah Vaughan, and the Count Basie Band. 

Avett Brothers 'True Sadness' is an Absolute Delight

Jun 22, 2016
Courtesy of the artist

Music is hardly ever one thing. Influences run deep for most artists, but few groups build their sound on as many layers as the Avett Brothers. Equal parts bluegrass, country, punk, pop, folk, rock, honky tonk, and ragtime, the Avett brothers have an audience as diverse as their sound. 

Matthew Bactat Photography / Music Business Organization

Bloomington based Sherwood Forest is one of many bands scheduled to play the "Make Music Normal" music festival June 18.  Sherwood Forest was initially a solo vehicle for founder Clifford Close to express his love of indie-alternative music.  The 21-year-old now leads an iteration of the band that includes Matt Powers, Mitchell Owens, Kirk Lundeen, and new member C.J. Edwards.  As you might guess, Close said the band’s name comes from his fascination with the folkloric man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Radio Munson 6/9/16

Jun 13, 2016

Don plays Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”, but you can't say that about Radio Munson.  With sides from Les Brown, Carmen McRae, the Ames Brothers, and Eddie Cantor, it’s going to be two hours of radio—the way it used to be.

One of the founding members of the early 1980's Rockabilly revival group "The Stray Cats" will headline the GLT Summer Concert June 11.  Double-bassist Lee Rocker has had a successful career of his own following the bands breakup.  Despite being the son of acclaimed clarinetists Stanley and Naomi Drucker, and brother to country music artist Rosanne Drucker, Rocker said from an early age, his ears were tuned to rockabilly and blues music.

Julia Bailey

Boogie-woogie pianist Eden Brent will grace the GLT Summer Concert stage June 11.  The Greenwood, Mississippi native has been immersed in blues music since she met the much older Aibe "Boogaloo" Ames when she was a teen.

"Boogaloo was a fixture here in the delta.  He enjoyed quite a successful career from the middle 1940's through the 1960's in Detroit.  First as a jazz piano player, and swing player with his own band in the 40's.  Up until the mid 60's he did some work with Barry Gordy at the Motown studio's.  Boogaloo had enjoyed a celebrated career, just fortunate for me he fell in love with a woman with ties to Mississippi, so he followed her down here.  I didn't meet Boogaloo until probably 1980 or so."

Radio Munson 6/2/16

Jun 3, 2016

Don’s sweet tooth catches up with him on this week’s Radio Munson and we catch him with his hand in the sugar bowl.  “Sugar Foot Stomp,” “Sugar Blues,” and “My Sugar Is So Refined” make their way to the turntable; Anita O’Day is on Don’s playlist, too, along with Jimmy Rushing and the bands of Count Basie and Les Elgart.

Emo-Rock Underdogs Feel Right at 'Home'

Jun 3, 2016
@realfriendsband

The emo-rock band "Real Friends" released their latest record last Friday at a theater in Kingston, a royal borough in southwest London. That's quite a feat for the suburban Chicago band that as recently as 2012 was playing house shows in Bloomington-Normal.

Rory Bolton

An increasing number of senior citizen facilities are using music therapy to help the elderly improve their cognitive skills, avoid depression and even stay more physically fit. 

Rory Bolton recently completed graduate studies in music therapy and piano performance at Illinois State University. Throughout his time at ISU, the 28-year-old singer performed at private parties and on cruise ships. For the past several months, Bolton has sung and played old standards and classic pop songs at Twin Cities residences for seniors. 

A Mashup Of Ska & Jazz

Jun 2, 2016

Casey Doremus was a band nerd of sorts.  Growing up in Washington, Illinois, he watched all kinds of bands, and said his heroes were the local drummers and musicians that performed in jazz and marching bands.   But like many a teen, his first experienced was in a rock band.

"It was high school kids putting together something.  A lot of people were into the "Screamo" music at the time. So we had many heavy parts to it like we were almost a metal band."

Radio Munson 5/26/16

May 27, 2016

Don is polishing his virtual Mirror Ballroom Ball for this week’s Radio Munson, with a set on his playlist of iconic romantic dance recordings by Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw.  Sammy Davis, Junior is on the evening’s card, too, along with Keely Smith, Nat “King” Cole, and Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band’s offering of the “Tin Roof Blues."

Monaghan Photography

Corey Dennison listened to a lot of music growing up in Chattanooga TN and various other southern burgs.  But he said everything changed once he heard Howlin' Wolf's "London Sessions" album.

"Right then and there is when I said 'whoa ... I gotta have this.'"

Brad Olson Photography

Following his muse has worked well for California based singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Eldred. Exhibit A is a recent album of Elvis covers titled "Elvis Unleaded."  Eldred said his latest album “Baptist Town” was inspired by his readings of folklorist Alan Lomax, which themselves have inspired many trips by Eldred to Mississippi.

“The more I dug into the folklore and history, and the prisons, prison work songs and field hollers, I realized that this music has always done something to me, as has gospel.”

Danny Clinch

Experiencing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is intoxicating in any venue.  To inhale the band in its home in New Orleans is an extra joyous occasion.  But you could easily miss Preservation Hall as you walk by the storied venue on St. Peters Street in the French Quarter.  The Hall’s creative director Ben Jaffe said the compact size is an appealing attribute.

“Isn’t that beautiful?  It’s as if we invited a group of our friends into our living room to experience us playing for ourselves.  That’s a super rare experience for anyone. For us to be able to do that every night is special.”

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