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LISTEN: 'The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni' brings together a Connecticut jazz musician and an iconic American poet

“The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni” — an album featuring Connecticut saxophonist Javon Jackson — was recently released to correspond with Black History Month.

The album features Jackson playing jazz renditions of gospel hymns and spirituals hand-picked by Giovanni. The 78-year-old poet makes a rare vocal performance.

“Gospel spirituals, as I like to categorize them, speak to the story of America,” said Jackson.

Javon Jackson is a former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford. Nikki Giovanni is a renowned poet, activist and educator. She’s a Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award winner and the first person to receive the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award.

Connecticut Public Radio’s Diane Orson produced this audio essay.

Listen: 'The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni' brings together a Connecticut jazz musician and an iconic American poet

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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