Prior to its transformation into more of a weekday newsmagazine, National Public Radio's Fresh Air featured fairly regular interviews with many different styles of musicians, often giving them the opportunity to play two to three songs, as well. These tracks are excerpted from programs taped between 1982 and 1990. Jazz dominates the disc, with strong solo piano performances by Jay McShann, Dave McKenna, and Kenny Barron. Joel Forrestor, who would eventually compose a new theme song for the program, offers a pair of fascinating originals. Jazz singers are well represented by Susannah McCorkle's tender rendition of "If I Only Had a Heart," a swinging pair of standards sung by Peggy King, guitarist Marty Grosz's interpretation of Fats Waller's "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now," as well as Bob Dorough's zany "I'm Hip." The remainder of the disc is a cornucopia of blues, rock & roll, and folk, although Dr. John's versions of two of Hoagy Carmichael's classic works are absolute duds. Brave Combo's polka arrangement of "Proud Mary" and their bizarre approach to "People Are Strange" are absolutely side splitting. Briefly available through NPR and some of its affiliate stations, this out-of-print CD compilation will be fairly difficult to track down.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden