Scotty McCreery Knows The Rules

When it comes to singing with emotion there are few country artist that can match Scotty McCreery. Country music was created by musicians that wore their hearts on their sleeves and Scotty McCreery is no exception.  

McCreery’s musical beginnings happened at a young age. He was first influenced around the age of 6 by Elvis Presley. McCreery’s grandmother is credited with introducing him to the music of Elvis who became one of his biggest influences. His North Carolina roots lead him to country. Around the age of 9 he began to learn guitar and write his own music. McCreery continued his musical path through high school in North Carolina where he received notoriety for being such a gifted singer.

The first time most country fans were introduced to McCreery was in 2011 on the tenth season of American Idol. He went on to win that tenth season at the young age of sixteen. After winning, McCreery went on tour with American Idol, his first experience with a big fully staged music tour.

Shortly after the America Idol tour, McCreery released his first single I Love You This Big. The song debuted on Billboard Hot Country Songs chart at number 32, quickly becoming the highest debut for a single since 1990. His debut album, titled Clear as Day, was released shortly after in 2011 and was well received. McCreery made history as the first country act to debut at No. 1 on Billboard 200 with their first studio album, as well as the youngest man to open at the top of the chart with his debut release.  He was a hit.

Always having a strong sense of family and home, McCreery’s next project was the release of, Christmas with Scotty McCreery“, in 2012. The album is a reflection of a classic country style that included nine holiday classics and two new holiday songs. “Christmas with Scotty McCreery” was a hit and went on to be certified gold.

McCreery recently released his forth album, Seasons Change, in March 2018 to critical acclaim. The album’s lead single Five More Minutes, gained in radio popularity at a point when McCreery was not signed to a label. The hit made McMcCreery the only country music artist in Country Aircheck/Mediabase history to chart a song without the backing of a record label. He went on to sign with Triple Tigers label and in early 2018 “Five More Minutes” became McCreery’s first No. 1 Country Airplay single.  The hit would top Billboard and Mediabase in February 2018 and was certified platinum.

Country fans can expect Scotty McCreery to keep delivering great new country songs.  From Elvis to Idol, he has shown that time and passion make great country.

Giant Steps…Blue Train…My Favorite Things…A Love Supreme. John Coltrane and Ralph Moore.

One man was responsible for these memorable and critically acclaimed albums.  That man was John Coltrane. Born September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, North Carolina, Coltrane would go on to become one of the most influential saxophonists in music history.

Coltrane was introduced to the saxophone in 1943 when his mother bought him an alto saxophone when he was 17.  He played clarinet and alto horn in a local band before starting to play the saxophone in high school. He started playing professionally with a cocktail lounge trio in 1945.

That same year, Coltrane enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted by the Army.  After he completed naval training, he went to Pearl Harbor. It was there where his musical talent was discovered.

From 1946-1955, Coltrane worked with a wide variety of smaller groups, big bands and jazz and R&B singers. He would eventually go on to work with the likes of Johnny Hodges, Earl Bostic, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie.  Gillespie asked Coltrane to switch from alto tenor saxophone and he did. That switch helped to enhance his sound.

Coltrane’s partnership with Miles Davis had its ups and downs, but it produced some great music. Davis challenged Coltrane to take his sound in a new direction and he also held Coltrane accountable for his personal troubles. Their musical relationship produced albums like The New Miles Davis Quintet, Round About Midnight and Kind of Blue.

Coltrane was known for his vigorous and intense style.  His tone was described as huge and dark with clear definition and a rich sound.  It’s been said that he picked up a multi-phonic style as a result of working with Thelonious Monk.  Coltrane also was known for mode-based improvisation. This is when a solo is played atop one-or two-note accompanying figures that are repeated for extended periods of time.  This can be heard in “My Favorite Things” which was a radio and commercial hit for Coltrane.

Coltrane’s A Love Supreme has been heralded as one of the greatest albums of all times by many.  This album displayed Coltrane’s spirituality after turning things around in his life.  He once said it was his attempt to say, “Thank You, God” through his work. The album was recorded in one session and the musicians accompanying Coltrane were McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Released in January of 1965, the album earned two Grammy nominations and by 1970, 500,000 copies had been sold.  A Love Supreme was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance” in 2016. 

Ralph Moore, who is playing at the Lakeland Community Jazz Festival from March 15-17, 2019, is one of today’s highest ranking saxophonists and will be playing various tunes based off of the great John Coltrane.

Those looking to book Ralph Moore for other venues can contact Night is Alive 

-Article Written by Devon Fennell and Posted by Jeffrey Swan

Rachmaninoff: Live Recordings of the Reclusive Artist Show His Brilliance

Rachmaninoff is a name most musicians have heard of, but few can elaborate on.  Sergei Rachmaninoff was a composer, conductor and renowned pianist that moved to the United States from his homeland of Russia during the Russian Revolution. Once in America, this gifted composer/conductor chose to become a keyboard virtuoso spending his time between Los Angeles and New York.

Rachmaninoff was very concerned about his privacy and how his music was heard.  He did not even want his performances to be broadcast over the radio.  While he recorded many works with RCA Records at the time, none of the recordings were of him playing live. The studio recordings were all exact renditions of the compositions with multiple takes to choose from.

Music today is still created in this way.  Albums are released with perfectly produced tracks.  The recordings are amazing and deserve much credit, but music is best enjoyed live and in the moment.  In a lucky twist of fate, a researcher was listening to old recordings made by famed conductor Eugene Ormandy.  The recordings were from his debut at the Philadelphia Orchestra in January of 1941. The researchers discovered that these recordings held a buried treasure waiting to be discovered. Within the music, Ormandy had inadvertently recorded Sergei Rachmaninoff playing his Symphonic Dances. This unique and rare recording is a demonstration of why it is important to listen to the artist live and in the moment. With the audience around and the vibe of the other musicians feeding the production, Rachmaninoff can be heard playing with the passion and fire you would expect from the keyboard virtuoso. Titled “Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances,” the musical works are now available.

“Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances” is an amazing example of the energy that symphonic music can bring to the listener.  Rachmaninoff’s reclusive timid outward personality is a complete reversal from his powerful command of the music. The force at which he drives the compositions of “Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances” reveals a depth that can only be displayed through music. His music is a punch in the face with the anger, passion, and depth you would expect from the Russian master musician. The recording of “Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances” is an eaves-dropping experience worth the time.  Very few opportunities exist to hear something so new and unique from a time long past.

Post Written By Michael Brigger

Jorma Kaukonen: Front Row Seat to the 60’s.

Jorma Kaukonen: Front Row Seat to the 60’s.

Few decades in America are as defined and culturally rich as the 1960’s.  The era is responsible for some of the greatest music in the history of rock.  Listen to any 60’s band and you are immediately taken back in time. The music was a reflection of the passion and protest of the people.  The mental shift that took place in the 60’s can still can be felt present day. There are many legendary stories that can be told of the generation.  Jorma Kaukonen’s new book entitled “Been So Long: My Life and Music” is a front row seat into a world of music, drugs, and fame in the hippie 60’s.  

In “Been So Long: My Life and Music,” Jorma Kaukonen reflects about his life,    music and the artistry that defined the 60’s and found success.  This Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist is best known for being the legendary guitarist for Jefferson   Airplane. He was a major part of the super-group that produced hits like, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”.  These are era defining songs that still get constant radio play 50 years later. Getting his start with other great San Francisco artists like Jimmy Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, Kaukonen was there from the          beginning. He played Altamonte, Monterey and Woodstock. These concerts are at the heart of 60’s music and this guy was around to see it all.

In the book Kaukonen draws a contrast between the artists and the fans who flocked to their shows.  He writes that the artists were not all drug induced artist like many have come to think. While drugs, alcohol, and a fear of monogamy were always present, these artists were professional musicians.  He states that he and his music peers did not look at themselves as hippies or drop-outs. They were successful artists that had reached a high level of success and the money that comes with it. They were not living in a beat-up old Volkswagen.  These were mega stars with mansions in San Francisco. They had rich people problems. They did not share the same life as their fans.

Kaukonen’s “Been So Long: My Life and Music,”  is not filled with endless stories of drugs, sex and parties but a clear look at a time in music that caused huge and lasting change to our culture.  Kaukonen’s honest and humorous telling of his past experiences is an amazing look at a time that many wish they could relive. Now 77, Jorma Kaukonen is still touring and active on the music scene.  He also developed a musical retreat in rural Ohio called the Fur Peace Ranch. At the ranch, Kaukonen brings students and professional musicians together to get instruction and hear the stories first hand.

Written by Michael Brigger

Iverson & Turner: Temporary Kings of Jazz

One of the greatest things about jazz is how two artists, with their individual styles and backgrounds, can collaborate.  What comes out can be remarkable. Jazz is a language that can be progressed, built upon and pushed forward. Collaborations can change the feel of music and affect space and time.  When that happens it is obvious as in the case of the album “Temporary Kings.”

Jazz Pianist Ethan Iverson and saxophonist Mark Turner come together to create an incredibly distinct and cerebral jazz that album shows both masters at work.  The album “Temporary Kings”, is elegant and brings the growing field of chamber jazz to the front of the jazz music scene. Iverson, from the renowned jazz piano trio Bad Plus, came to the project after many successful solo recordings and blogging extensively about jazz and music.  The album is his first release with jazz saxophonist Mark Turner. Turner and Iverson first met in the early 90’s New York City jazz scene. Those early jam sessions cemented the artists’ respect for each other. From that point forward the artists worked together most notably in the Billy Hart Quartet and have written for each other on different recording projects.  

On “Temporary Kings,” Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner are able to construct a mix of progressive smooth style and Cool School influences that can be heard throughout the album.  The album consists of 9 tracks that showcase the artists’ depth of knowledge and artistry. Iverson wrote six of the tracks while Turner wrote two on this album. The last track is a cover of Marsh’s “Dixie Dilemma” that both musicians felt was a great addition to giving the album its vibe.  Each production is a solid step progressing the art form forward. The musicians interact with each other dynamically pulling the listener in unmistakably strong directions. Turner’s saxophone creates an elegant contrast to Iverson’s impactful piano style and drive. Iverson says the album’s name refers to their amazing experience recording the album: “We were momentary royalty or something in this lovely environment before we came back to reality and back to Brooklyn where Mark takes his kids to school and I play for dance classes.”

Iverson and Turner are both amazing musicians and “Temporary Kings” is a great example of chamber jazz and the direction it is going.  This album is the definition of cool and will continue to find an audience because of the skill and proficiency of the artists. The duo has tour dates planned for select cities.

Article Written By Michael Brigger

Chet Baker: “My Funny Valentine”

From now until Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing some of our picks to get you in the mood.  Last time, we told you about “Our Love Is Easy” by Melody Gardot. Now, we’re giving you a jazz standard.


Chet Baker

“My Funny Valentine”


My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine

You make me smile with my heart

Your looks are laughable


Yet you’re my favorite work of art


Of course, this made the list.  C’mon, you can’t have Valentine’s Day without it!  The funny thing about it is that “My Funny Valentine” started as a show tune written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart back in 1937, and it was introduced by child star, Mitzi Green.  It’s since become a popular jazz standard and has been performed by more than 600 artists. Baker was able to turn the tune into a jazz classic when he recorded an instrumental version with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952, and then a haunting vocal version in 1956.  He then would go on to revisit the song a number of times throughout his career.

Chesney Henry Baker Jr., or Chet Baker, was known for the melancholic, fragile tone of his trumpet playing and singing.  He began playing the trumpet at 10 and later went on to play in Army bands while he was a soldier.  During the 50s, he played with Charlie Parker and joined Gerry Mulligan’s quartet in 1952.

In 1954, Baker beat out Miles Davis and many others to win the Downbeat Jazz Poll. Over the next few years, Baker was a frontman for his own combo He played trumpet and sang.  Baker’s good looks, vibratoless, soft tenor voice and cool vibe pretty much put him on the fast track.  But his personal struggles would end up taking a toll on his career.

Despite the troubles, it’s been said that the period between 1977 and 1988 were Baker’s most prolific musical years.  He’s pretty much an icon for the “cool school” style of jazz.

What’s your favorite song for Valentine’s Day?  Let us know in the comments.

Melody Gardot “Our Love is Easy”

We’re sharing our Valentine’s Day song picks to help fill out your playlist for your date night or your self-care time.  Last time, we shared “I Only Have Eyes For You” by Carmen McRae. This time, we’re sharing a song from a contemporary artist.

Melody Gardot

“Our Love is Easy”

Deep within your heart,

You know it’s plain to see

Like Adam was to Eve,

You were made for me

They say the poisoned vine

Breeds a finer wine

Our love is easy

“Our Love is Easy” is from Gardot’s second studio album, My One and Only Thrill.  Her sound has been described as soft-edge, late-night jazz.  “Our Love is Easy” is the type of song you can listen to when you want to think about just how good and effortless your relationship is.  Even though this song was released in 2009, it has a classic and very memorable sound thanks to the composition and Gardot’s sultry voice.

It’s amazing how Gardot has flourished despite a major setback.  At 19, she was hit by an SUV while she was riding her bike. The accident pretty much shattered her body. She was unable to sit for more than 10 minutes, she experienced short-term memory loss and she developed an acute sensitivity to light and sound.

Fast forward to now.  Gardot has released eight albums, been nominated for a Grammy and has toured all over the world.  Music was pretty much her saving grace. And her love for it has helped her beat the odds. Gardot has been influenced by legends like Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz and George Gershwin as well as Latin music artist, Caetano Veloso.

What’s your favorite song for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments.

Willie Jones III Quintet @ Blues Alley

Willie Jones III Quintet @ Blues Alley

On February 27 the Willie Jones III Quintet will be performing at the world-renowned Blues Alley.  Few venues have the history and vibe as this DC club.   Founded in 1965, Blues Alley is the oldest continuing jazz supper club in the nation, and it has all the grit and clout to prove it.  Walking down the alley to the club sets the tone for the experience that Blues Alley has become.

Located in Georgetown,  Blues Alley resides in an 18th-century red brick carriage house that only adds to the appeal for concert goers.  The air inside the club changes your perspective of time and space.  Blues Alley makes you feel like you are in the 1920s and 30s listening to great jazz musicians. It has featured such amazing artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Grover Washington Jr., Ramsey Lewis, Charlie Byrd, Maynard Ferguson, and Eva Cassidy.  Blues Alley is open seven days a week and is also known for its extraordinary menu, specializing in authentic Creole cuisine, steak, and seafood dishes creating a food pallet that compliments the music perfectly.

Willie Jones III Quintet with Ralph Moore, a well-respected saxophonist, Eddie Henderson, a popular trumpet player, Alex Claffy, a young and extremely talented bassist, Victor Gould, a prominent pianist, will be performing at Blues Alley on February 27th.  Willie Jones III is known for his musical brilliance and style on the drums.  He has made a name for himself through his exceptional control, speed and texture he brings to the drums.  He has performed, toured, and recorded with Horace Silver, Roy Hargrove, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, and Herbie Hancock to name a few.  Jones also played on Arturo Sandoval’s Grammy-winning album Hot House (1998).  Willie Jones III fits perfectly with other greats who have played the famous Blues Alley.

This concert is a fantastic opportunity to see a tremendous group of musicians at a world-renowned club.   The Willie Jones III Quintet on the 27th will be another example of the extraordinary talent that performs at the great Blues Alley. Tickets can be purchased at

Blog post written by Michael Brigger, published by Jeffrey Swan

Carmen McRae, “I Only Have Eyes for You”

Last time, we shared one song to consider for your Valentine’s Day jazz playlist. That song was “I Just Want to Make Love to You” by Etta James. Now, we’re sharing another song to put you and your boo in the mood.

Carmen McRae

“I Only Have Eyes for You”


Are the stars out tonight?

I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright

Cause I only have eyes for you, dear

The moon may be high

But I can’t see a thing in the sky

Cause I only have eyes for you


Covered by McRae in 1972 on her album, The Great American Songbook, “I Only Have Eyes for You” was written back in 1934 by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin. The song is a jazz standard and has been tackled by a wide variety of musicians. McRae’s live version with Joe Pass is great if you’re looking for a swinging version of a classic love song.

Carmen McRae has been called one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century. She’s well known for her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretation of lyrics.

During her career, McRae worked with bandleaders like Benny Carter, Count Basie and Mercer Ellington. She also recorded with jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Joe Pass, and George Shearing. McRae spent several years as an intermission pianist and singer at Minton’s Playhouse in New York City, and from the mid-50s and on, she toured extensively around the world. She frequently performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. She recorded over sixty albums during her career.

What’s your favorite song for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments.

Etta James: “I Just Want to Make Love to You”

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. You know what that means. Flowers, candy, dinner, unmentionables, all red everything — or maybe yours won’t mean any of those things. Regardless of how you do Valentine’s Day, the right jazz music is key to setting the mood. So, for the next few weeks, we’re going to share some songs that you might want to consider adding to your playlist for that special night or weekend. Some are standards and others are songs that you might not be familiar with.


Etta James

“I Just Want to Make Love to You”


I don’t want you to be no slave

I don’t want you to work all day

But I want you to be true

And I just wanna make love to you

Love to you, ooohooo

Love to you


James put her own sassy spin on this tune that was originally a blues song written by Willie Dixon back in 1954. It was first recorded as “Just Make Love to Me” by Muddy Waters. James recorded it in 1961 as a b-side for her début album, At Last! How could you not like these flirty and very direct lyrics?!? And James’ voice is enough to make any coy lover come right out of their shell.

Born in Los Angeles, California, on January 25, 1938, James was a gospel prodigy by the age of 5. By the age of 12, she started a trio and was soon working with the bandleader Johnny Otis. She eventually went solo in 1955. The 60s brought on popular hits like “At Last”, “Sunday Kind of Love”, “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You”.

James was well known for her suggestive stage antics and sassy attitude. Her career lasted right up until a few years before her death. That career included 29 studio albums, six Grammys and her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

What’s your favorite song for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments.