Jazz Casual: Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & John Coltrane on 1960s TV

Sun 7/21/2024 • 7PM PDT

Billy Wilder Theater

Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment.
Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

Produced for National Educational Television (NET) by San Francisco station KQED, the videotaped music program Jazz Casual (1960-68) featured electrifying live performances by the top artists in contemporary American jazz. Hosted by noted syndicated columnist Ralph J. Gleason, the intimate series offered viewers a front-row seat to see and hear musical titans at the forefront of modern jazz within a relaxed studio setting.

Between blistering bebop solos and avant-garde sets, producer and host Gleason (with trademark pipe and spectacles) engaged his guests in brief conversations peppered with accessible technical specificity to illuminate the complexities of the still-evolving art form of jazz. While artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins sat with Gleason to drop wisdom in insightful interviews, John Coltrane opted out, with host Gleason explaining that Coltrane felt that "music speaks far more fluently than any human ever could." With that note from Gleason, Coltrane segued into a powerhouse rendition of his original composition “Alabama,” intended as a memorial to the four Black children murdered in the Ku Klux Klan terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963. In a series that frequently presented artists at their zenith, the transcendent performance of musical genius Coltrane and his incomparable quartet would mark the apex of Jazz Casual's esteemed eight-year run.

Join us for a trio of Jazz Casual episodes from the early 1960s in glorious black and white videotape featuring The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Sonny Rollins and Company with Jim Hall, and The John Coltrane Quartet. —Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Curator

Jazz Casual: “The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet”
U.S., 1/17/1961

Musicians: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Leo Wright, alto saxophone, flute; Lalo Schifrin, piano; Bob Cunningham, bass; Chuck Lampkin, drums.

DCP, b&w, 30 min. NET. Production: KQED, San Francisco. Host: Ralph J. Gleason. Producers: Ralph J. Gleason; Dick Christian. Director: Dick Christian. Special thanks to Retro Video, Toby Gleason.

Jazz Casual: “Sonny Rollins and Company with Jim Hall”
U.S., 3/23/1962

Musicians: Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Jim Hall, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Ben Riley, drums.

DCP, b&w, 30 min. NET. Production: KQED, San Francisco. Host: Ralph J. Gleason. Producers: Ralph J. Gleason; Dick Christian. Director: Dick Christian. Special thanks to Retro Video, Toby Gleason.

Jazz Casual: “The John Coltrane Quartet”
U.S., 12/7/1963

Musicians: John Coltrane, saxophone; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; McCoy Tyner, piano.

DCP, b&w, 30 min. NET. Production: KQED, San Francisco. Host: Ralph J. Gleason. Producer: Ralph J. Gleason. Special thanks to Retro Video, Toby Gleason.

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