Are there any female jazz producers?

Although there are many famous female singers and performers, there are very few women behind the mixing console. According to BBC, more than 95% of record producers and sound engineers are men. This may be because the industry has a “boys club” atmosphere and many women are not inclined to pursue such a demanding career while also trying to raise a family. Yet, there are still some women who have risen to the challenge and succeed as jazz producers. Today we’re here to recognize these badass women who are making moves in today’s day and age!

Amy Denio – Seattle, WA 

Amy Denio is an award-winning composer and producer who was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in March 2015. Not only has she produced over 50 releases, but she is also able to play the guitar, bass, alto sax, clarinet, accordion, and she can sing four octaves! In 1986, Denio founded her own record label and publishing company, Spoot Music, and has since collaborated with musicians from all over the world—Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina just to name a few. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Denio has been working on her “Corona Sonora” series, which consists of a wide variety of compositions that musically interpret the death and infection tolls in cities where Denio has previously resided.  

Yoshie Nakayama – Los Angeles, CA

A graduate of the Kunitachi College of Music and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Yoshie Nakayma is a producer, trombonist, arranger, composer, singer and educator who specializes in jazzy a-cappella productions. Her creative vision is wide-ranging, including traditional Japanese songs, jazz big band, orchestra, Motown and more. She has contributed to over 400 recordings, worked with great mentors like Billy Bob Thorton and Alejandro Sanz, and she is the official arranger of the UNIVOZ Vocal Ensemble. Currently, Nakayama is working as one of the founders of the global initiative, Songs for World Peace, which promotes peace through the power of music. 

Kristina Koller – New York City, NY

Kristina Koller was exposed to a vast array of music and dance during her childhood outside of New York City, which led her to pursue jazz music, solo performance and formal music education at The City College of New York. Using her four-octave vocals, Koller creates powerful songs that project empowerment through self-discovery and awareness. And not only is she a professional vocalist, but Koller is also currently producing a synth pop record. As a producer, she specializes in transforming jazz standards into contemporary arrangements by using elements of R&B, pop and rock. 

Suzana Laşcu – Rotterdam, Netherlands

A graduate of Prins Claus Conservatorium and Codarts University, Suzana Laşcu is a performer, poet and composer who specializes in producing and curating sonic content. Her work aims to address all that permeates culture and is thus very transdisciplinary in nature, weaving across multiple genres—jazz, experimental, acoustic and electronic. Laşcu takes a non-traditional approach to music by incorporating extended techniques, spoken word and non-temperate sound producing effects. Currently, in 2021, she has begun broadcasting her most recent works on Radio WORM in Rotterdam. 

Kathy Salem – Cleveland, Ohio

As the founder and managing director of the jazz booking agency Night is Alive, Kathy Salem produces classical and jazz concerts worldwide with the goal of widening the influence of jazz music. Music has always held a sacred place in Salem’s heart: she played piano as a child, taught herself to read music in church and studied classic music formally for five years. Now, with Night is Alive, Salem represents some of the most talented and distinguished artists in the industry, such as Willie Jones III, Bill Cunliffe, Jeff Rupert and Donald Vega. She also offers academic scholarships to emerging musicians who are still attending college, which will foster a. love for jazz music in the next generation. Most recently, Salem produced the 2021 album, Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which infuses classic country hits with a jazz twist and features the vocals of Janis Siegel and piano of John di Martino. 

Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available in our store now and on all major music platforms. 

Which songs should you play at a graduation party?

Graduation parties can be a challenging terrain when it comes to music and playlists. You want to play tunes that the graduate, usually from a younger generation, can enjoy, but you also want to play music that the guests, usually older relatives, will also enjoy. Basically, you want some classic tunes that’ll put everyone in a good mood and possibly generate conversation. Well, look no further because we got you covered with this list! 

Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich – The Monster

This 1956 song from the jazz drummer duo Krupa and Rich really showcases how lively, fun and upbeat jazz music can be. And the tune is completely instrumental, which is perfect for party conversations. The vibrant drums will fade nicely into the backdrop of the party, energizing everyone without anyone even realizing it! 

Bill Withers – Lovely Day

We all know Bill Withers’s most famous song, Lean on Me, which is usually a staple at graduation parties, but what about mixing it up and playing this 1977 hit Lovely Day? It’s a very lowkey, relaxed song that can help everyone, from all walks of life, wind down and get in a good mood. I know it’s going to be a lovely day! 

The Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe in Magic

Thanks to the 2005 rendition, from Disney stars Ally & AJ, people from all generations are familiar with this classic tune, which peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1965. And no one will be able disagree with the message of the lyrics—that music has the magical power to make you happy and free your soul!

Islands in the Stream – Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

This lovely 1983 duet from two of country music’s biggest stars has a smooth, mellow soft rock feel to it that everyone can appreciate. And did you know that the title comes from the 1970 Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name? If your graduate majored in English, be sure to quiz them on this fact!

Janis Siegel, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Whenever You Come Around

Everyone loves a good love song, especially a new rendition of a beloved favorite. In this version, the talented composer, arranger and pianist John di Martino infuses Vince Gill’s 1994 country song with a soulful, funky Booker T. and the M.G.’s feel. This tune will make you want to get a groove on with your sweetheart!
If you need some more ideas for songs to play at a graduation party, be sure to check out the newest release from Night is Alive, Cryin’ In My Whiskey. From this album comes the last track on this playlist, along with many more snazzy, jazzy renditions of country classics, like Willie Nelson’s Always On My Mind and Crystal Gayle’s Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. And if you’d like to book one of our wonderful musicians to perform at your event, please contact us today.

4 Tunes to Jam While You Work Out!

With the weather warming up and COVID cooling down, it’s a great time to grab those running shoes and hit the pavement, or to renew that lapsed gym membership, and burn off that pandemic fifteen! But what music to listen to? Maybe you’re not a fan of the popular workout mixes of our day and age—rap, hip-hop, dubstep—and want some fast-paced, upbeat tunes that have a more instrumental, jazzy, and classic feel to them. Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered!

Lorca Hart Trio – MoJoe

With the stay-at-home orders and limited access to gyms during the pandemic, many of us may’ve have lost our mojo when it comes to working out. But don’t worry, this song, a drum solo from Lorca Hart himself, will help you get your mojo back. Show everyone what you can do, just like those impressive drumbeats! 

Junkie XL, Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation

In 2001, Dutch musician Tom Holkenborg, better known as Junkie XL, was the first artist to receive authorization from the Elvis Presley foundation to remix an Elvis song. The product is an electronic, funky sound that lowers Elvis’s voice and draws even more attention to the lively guitars, horns and drumbeats from the 1968 tune. So, let’s listen to Elvis, and have a little less conversation, a little more action lifting those weights!

 

Chócala – Humboldt

This obscure jazz quartet from Charlotte, North Carolina produces a unique, energizing and vibrant sound, especially in this tune, which features fervent percussion, powerful vocals and smooth saxophone. In Spanish, ‘chócala’ means high-five, which is very fitting for this snappy, jubilant group that’ll make you want to high-five the person sweating on the treadmill next to you!

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Jump, Jive an’ Wail

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to move like some spirited swing music, especially when the refrain of the tune is telling me to jump, jive an’ wail! This swing and jump blues band covered Louis Prima’s 1956 song on their 1998 album The Dirty Boogie and the result is a fast-moving piece that’ll push you to finish out that last rep strong!
If you enjoyed these tunes and are looking for more enthusiastic music to motivate you to work out, I would recommend the Lorca Hart Trio’s album, Colors of Jazz, which features a variety of songs representing all the colors of the rainbow. Lorca Hart’s impassioned drumming will be sure to get you stepping back into your workout groove in no time! Colors of Jazz is available in our store right now and on all major music platforms.

Happy Mother’s Day! – 5 Jazz Songs to Warm Mom’s Heart

Are you feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts and flowers? Do you still not have a gift idea for mom? Maybe you weren’t able to visit with mom last year, due to concerns about COVID-19, and you want to make sure Mother’s Day 2021 is extra special. 

Well, don’t worry because sometimes it’s the simplest gifts that leave the longest lasting memories. Sometimes it’s about creating that perfect ambience by playing just the right songs. The songs that’ll speak to mom’s heart, get her eyes watering and her toes tapping.

Etta James – Tell Mama

This 1967 hit song still rocks out today! Etta James’s deep, powerful and gutsy vocals let you know that mama really is always on your side and always has your back, no matter what. This song is sure to get your Mother’s Day off to a groovy start! 

WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been in Love Before

The jazz standard from 1950—recorded by stars like Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Chet Baker—has been brought back to life in this vivid rendition from Willie Jones III and his All-Stars! Whether this is the first time your mom is hearing this song, or if it’s a tune she knows and loves, the soft melody, saxophone and piano are sure to create a lovely atmosphere for chatting and reminiscing.

The Shirelles – Mama Said

This lively, poppy 1961 hit is a fun ode to all the moms out there who have given their children those unforgettable words of wisdom. And did you know that The Shirelles, famous for their rhythm & blues, doo-wop and soul music, are credited with the launch of the girl group genre? All I know is that I don’t worry ‘cause Mama said there’ll be days like this…

Gregory Porter – Mother’s Song

You probably recognize Gregory Porter from his albums, Liquid Spirit and Tame to the Alley, both of which won Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album, but I bet you haven’t heard this song from his 2012 album! Porter’s mellow and uplifting sound will make your mother feel cherished on her special day. Listen and gather ‘round me children, children of a mother whose life lifted up peace, a mother who taught all of her children to love and be loved by each other…

Lorca Hart Trio – Bye Ya

If your mom is anything like my mom, saying goodbye is an ordeal, an event, a process in which one gets initiated into another conversation, and gets just one more hug, before finally walking out the door. So, this Mother’s Day, say goodbye with a bang! “Bye Ya” comes from Lorca Hart Trio’s newest album Colors of Jazz. The swinging, upbeat tune represents the color orange and evokes the image of a jolly band leading a parade down a cobblestone street. Everyone is dancing merrily and marching happily to the beat of the drum solo. A cheering crowd lines the street, pressing together to watch the musicians pass, waving and laughing. Giggling children chase each other through the sea of legs. Now, that, to me, really sounds like the proper way to say goodbye to mom!

And if your mom is a lover of jazz music, you may want to browse around our store for some great gift ideas! “Colors of Jazz” and WJ3 All-Star’s album “Lover and Love Songs” are both available in our store right now, along with many other albums that’ll bring a bright smile to mom’s face. Or if you would like to book one of our lovely musicians for your Mother’s Day, please contact us today.