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WRTI Spotlight

Have a Merry and Bright Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's with WRTI Jazz

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Season's Greetings from everyone at WRTI!

Where can you find the perfect jazz soundtrack to add comfort and joy to your holiday season? You guessed it! As we inch closer to Christmas, you'll hear more and more of the holiday jazz you love on WRTI, and then a Kwanzaa celebration leading to a jazz-filled New Year’s. From all of your friends at WRTI, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Here’s our jazz holiday schedule:

Friday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)

On Christmas Eve starting at 6 PM, Ms. Courtney Blue brings you some recently released Christmas music on a very festive edition of Nouveau Jazz Showcase. From a stirring a cappella rendition of “Going Home” from the vocal trio Duchess to bopping through the Pete Ellman Big Band’s Twelve Grooves of Christmas, Ms. Blue’s music will be the straw that stirs your holiday cocktail.

At 10 PM, The Kennedy Center and NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas will feature today’s best jazz pianists performing the most loved seasonal music. Featured this year are four-time Grammy nominee Gerald Clayton, jazz/R&B icon Patrice Rushen, and versatile virtuoso Eric Reed.

11 PM will bring An Afro Blue Christmas, a very special holiday concert with Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble, Afro Blue, with special guest, pianist Cyrus Chestnut. This celebration will feature unique arrangements of beloved holiday songs, plus some new compositions.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra welcomes Christmas at 12 midnight with A Swinging Holiday Jazz Party with Wynton Marsalis. This hour of holiday jazz features favorites by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Cecile Mclorin Salvant, Rene Marie and others.

Following Wynton and company will be Christmas Memories with Dee Alexander. In this special, Dee shares songs that inspire celebration and spark nostalgia for the holiday, spinning classics like Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song and Mahalia Jackson’s No Room at the Inn. With her impeccable selections and inviting hosting style, this special is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

On Jazz Through the Night, starting at 2 AM, Maureen Malloy will spin the best of Christmas Jazz to help Old St. Nick get the job done smoothly.

Saturday, December 25 - (Christmas Day)

Christmas Day will bring all holiday music starting at 6 PM, with Bobbi Booker bringing you jazz versions of some Christmas tunes that made the pop chart, as well as some classics.

At 9 PM, join David Ortiz for a special All-Christmas/Navidad party on El Viaje. He’ll play Latin jazz and Salsa Christmas-themed music, along with the traditional holiday music of bombas and plenas, which is heard in every Puerto Rican household this time of year!

Sunday, December 26

Technically, Christmas weekend is the first weekend of winter, so on Sunday Jazz Brunch, 9 am to 1 pm, Bob Craig (filling in for BP) brings you songs of the season throughout the program. Even though the holiday itself has passed, that doesn’t mean you can’t still take a Sleigh Ride through a Winter Wonderland!

Bob Craig keeps the spirit bright on the Boxing Day episode of Big Band Jazz, with some seasonal favorites, as well as his top picks from big band jazz records from the past year. Expect selections from Bob Mintzer, Ulysses Owens Jr., The Mike LeDonne Big Band, The Temple University Jazz Band and the current Count Basie Orchestra.

Voices in Jazz on HD-2 at 2 PM - Bob Craig brings you some holiday Big Band flare (with a voice leading the charge,of course). He’ll also provide some music from his favorite albums of 2021 that feature some great singers in front of big swingers. Featured vocalists include Veronica Swift, Frankie Valli, Roseanna Vitro, and Stacey Kent.

AT 8 PM, Philadelphia’s own Christian McBride will present popular jazz artists performing holiday music from their forthcoming albums on this year’s Jazz Night In America holiday special.

December 26 to January 1 - (Kwanzaa)

Starting on December 26th, tune in each evening as we recognize one of the principles of Kwanzaa each night. African in origin, Kwanzaa is an annual seven-day celebration practiced by many Black Americans to reaffirm their African heritage. It takes place from December 26 through January 1.

Kwanzaa was conceived in 1966 by Pan African scholar Dr. Mulana Kurenga during the Black freedom movement's height. With origins in ancient and modern first-harvest festivals occurring across the African continent, the celebration's name derives from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," meaning first fruits. Kwanzaa incorporates and reimagines many of these communal traditions as a contemporary celebration and reaffirmation of African American culture.

Today, millions of African Americans and descendants of the African Diaspora around the globe gather with friends and family, lighting the traditional red, green, and black candles each evening to focus on the seven principles of Nguzo Saba: Unity (Umoja), Self-determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba), Faith (Imani).

Kwanzaa serves as a unifying holiday that shines festive highlights on Black culture's diverse and rich heritage while honoring the past, rejoicing in the present, and embracing the future.

On the first night of Kwanzaa, Maureen Malloy brings you Will Calhoun’s version of “Umoja” at 9:15 PM on In a Mellow Tone. Throughout the rest of the week, our hosts will announce the day’s principle at 7:15 PM and 9:15 PM, and play a piece of music that reflects the values of the observance.

Friday, December 31 - (New Year’s Eve)

On New Year's Eve at 6 PM, we’ll kick off our end-of-year festivities with a year-in-review installment of Nouveau Jazz Showcase with Ms. Blue. You’ll hear hosts’ favorite songs from our 2021 Jazz Albums of the Week. Tune in to hear the best jazz 2021 had to offer!

Toast of the Nation will begin at 10 PM, bringing you some fun, high-octane jazz to fuel your New Year’s Eve celebration! With an exciting line-up of artists all recorded during the pandemic, one with a small audience and three without, this music is a fitting way to ring in 2022. Hear sets from Quinteto Astor Piazzolla, harpist Brandee Younger, organist Cory Henry, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and The Louis Cole Big Band.

Plus, check out our awesome Classical and Jazz Holiday playlist on Spotify!

Happy 2022!