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1963: A Man's Dream, A Nation's Nightmare

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Broadcast: January 16, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.

The year was 1963, and in America the civil-rights movement continued to gain momentum in the face of turmoil and violence, culminating in Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, even as ugly rhetoric prevailed from foes such as Alabama governor George Wallace , who proclaimed in his inaugural address, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”

In South Vietnam Buddhist monks burned themselves to death in protest against the country’s regime, and the Cold War continued apace, even though the United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty limiting nuclear testing and established a communications hotline between the two nations.

United States president John F. Kennedy proposed sweeping civil-rights legislation, but he would not live to see its passage; both he and civil-rights activist Medgar Evers would be assassinated in 1963. With America already entering a period of volatility and change, what was happening in the world of jazz?

1963, the year in jazz
Ironically enough, in such a time of upheaval, two of the most popular, iconic, and romantically laidback albums of modern jazz history were released—both named simply after the two primary musicians on each date, and recorded within a week and a half of each other in March.

We’ll hear from tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and singer Johnny Hartman in this first set–Hartman a rather obscure figure by 1963, and Coltrane a star who had just come through a period of controversy after his exploratory directions.

Listen to this episode, click here.