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Your Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's will be merry and bright with WRTI Jazz

Holiday lights
Celebrate the holidays with WRTI Jazz.

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, and a wonderful 2023. Our jazz holiday schedule is below.

Keep WRTI going strong with more spectacular music in 2023 with your year-end gift now. We rely on your support to make it happen. Thank you!

Friday, Dec. 23

The Friday Mirth-Tape Eggnoggin' Special, 6 to 10 p.m.
Join DJ Tannenbaum (Josh Jackson) for a four-hour slay ride of Christmas favorites. Get your weekend holiday party started with classics like Thelonious Monk's "A Merrier Christmas," the Bootsy Collins antler anthem "Boot-Off," and Willie Colon's "Esta Navidad." Stay tuned for many tidings of comfort and joy — and more Christmas spice than a pot of mulled wine.

Saturday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve

The Get Down with Greg Bryant, holiday edition, 6 to 9 p.m.
Christmas Eve is in the groove courtesy of The Get Down. The Watchman (Greg Bryant) shares rare holiday grooves from James Brown, Soul Saints and The Jive Turkeys, plus a blend of new sounds from Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote and keyboard wiz Cory Henry, and classics from Willis “Gatortail” Jackson and Motown ace Earl Van Dyke

El Viaje with David Ortiz, 9 p.m. to midnight
Noche Buena ( Good Night)/ Christmas Eve will be celebrated wholeheartedly on El Viaje with spiced-up Latin rhythms such as bomba, plena and aguinaldos ( a- gee- nal -dos) by famed artists like Hector Lavoe, Sonora Poncena, El Gran Combo, Los Papines and so many others including local artists Anthony Colon and Foto Rodriguez. And of course there will holiday flavored salsa, mambo and Latin Jazz in the mix with just a little twist like the cool cha cha cha "God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen" by Los Asesinos or Cintron’s version of "Jingle Bells." Come aboard El Viaje on Christmas Eve! The music will make you feel more joyous than any coquito ( co-key- tow) drink you ever had.

Sunday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day

A Jazz Christmas Holiday, 9 a.m.
It’s classic jazz from many of the masters as they interpret holiday and Christmas favorites. The playlist includes music from Ella Fitzgerald , Duke Ellington, Kenny Burrell, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Paul Bley, Charles Mingus & Art Blakey, Jimmy Smith, Count Basie, Vince Guaraldi Trio, The Swingle Singers, Hank Crawford, Don Patterson, Chet Baker Quartet, Carmen McRae, and Roland Kirk.

Jazz Piano Christmas, 10 a.m.
Check out your favorite holiday classics as you’ve never heard them! This year, the show spotlights ferociously talented Japanese musical phenom Hiromi, Mountain Stage’s Bob Thompson, and Bolivian prodigy José André Montaño, chosen as one of the Kennedy Center’s “Next 50” leaders.

Holiday Jazz with Dee Alexander, 11 a.m.
Beloved Chicago vocalist and radio host Dee Alexander entertains and enchants with songs and reminiscences of holidays past with longtime collaborators pianist Miguel de la Cerna, bassist Junius Paul and drummer Yussef Ernie Adams. Holiday favorites abound, including “White Christmas,” “Coventry Carol,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and show-stopping renditions of spirituals inspired by Chicago gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Chicago radio luminary Richard Steele hosts the show. Don’t miss Chicago’s first lady of jazz song serving up the winter holiday season in style!

A Swinging Holiday Jazz Party with Wynton Marsalis, 12 noon
Wynton Marsalis hosts a festive show with holiday jazz favorites by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter, René Marie, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Voices in “Holiday” Jazz with Bob Craig, 3 p.m. on HD-2
Enjoy songs like Shirley Horn’s “Winter Wonderland” and Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song.”

Voices in Big Band Jazz with Bob Craig, 6 p.m.
All holiday music from Louis Armstrong and Rene Marie with the Jazza at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Big Band “Holiday” Jazz with Bob Craig, 7 p.m.
Music from Ron Mcconnell and the Boss Brass and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

Jazz Night In America — A Holiday Celebration, 8 p.m.
This year's holiday special will feature drummer Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O; a ruckus band recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center that flip seasonal songs on their head while inserting humor and joyful swing. and new takes on classics in this special episode. Christian McBride is your host.

The Standard with Maurice Browne, 9 p.m. to 12 midnight
A special all-holiday show with Christmas favorites as played by the greats, including Bill Evans, Jimmy Heath and Herbie Hancock.

Monday, Dec. 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa

Join us every night from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 as we recognize one of the principles of Kwanzaa on each night. African in origin, Kwanzaa is an annual seven-day celebration practiced by many Black Americans to reaffirm their African heritage.

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, Greg Bryant brings you Will Calhoun’s version of “Umoja” at 7:15 p.m. Each day thereafter, the day’s principle will be commemorated at that time.

Saturday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve

Tune in at 6 p.m. to get your party started with Greg Bryant and The Get Down.

David Ortiz will keep it going starting at 9 p.m. with the Latin grooves on El Viaje, which takes you right into 2023.

Sunday, Jan. 1, New Year's Day

Maurice Browne will bring you some easy tunes to ease you into the New Year from 9 to 11 a.m.

Toast of the Nation, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
An NPR tradition every New Year's Eve since the 1970s, Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio compliment for the occasion. It's festive jazz you can party to, all night long, even on lockdown. Hear sets from Quinteto Astor Piazzolla, harpist Brandee Younger, organist Cory Henry, trumpeter Keyon Harrold and The Louis Cole Big Band.