Willis Conover (1920-1996) was a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years. He produced jazz concerts at the White House, the Newport Jazz Festival, and for movies and television. Conover is credited with keeping interest in jazz alive in the countries of eastern Europe through his nightly broadcasts during the cold war when jazz was banned by most of the communist governments. The online audio includes interviews with luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Bill Evans,and Chet Baker.
Artists include Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Barney Kessel, Django Reinhardt, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown, Bud Powell, Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Dinah Washington, Al Grey, King Oliver, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans.
Established by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 1992, the Program seized the opportunity to document more than one hundred senior jazz musicians, performers, relatives, and business associates. Each interview was conducted by a jazz authority and was recorded on digital audiotape by a professional audio engineer. The interviews average six hours in length and cover a wide range of topics including early years, initial involvement in music, generally, and jazz specifically, as well as experiences in the jazz music world, including relationships to musicians.