Kevin Whitehead

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This is FRESH AIR. When bandleader Duke Ellington was on tour, he had a habit of booking studio time to record new music. It was one of the perks of keeping an expensive band together. In Cologne on July 9, 1970, Ellington recorded two tunes engineered by Conny Plank. A few years before, Plank became known for recording such rock musicians as Brian Eno. That brief recording session is now on CD. And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's a window into Ellington's working method.

(SOUNDBITE OF DUKE ELLINGTON SONG, "ALERADO")

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This is FRESH AIR. Fifty years ago today in a Washington nightclub, Chicago's Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded "The 'In' Crowd," the rare jazz single that landed on the pop charts. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the audience was half the show.

In honor of Billie Holiday's 100th birthday this month, several artists are releasing out Holiday tribute albums. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead looks at a couple of these by other singers. One he rather likes; the other, not so much.

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Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago Tuesday in Philadelphia. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has some thoughts on Holiday's changing style, her influences, and singers she influenced.

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