Feature Friday with Lorca Hart

Feature Friday with Lorca Hart

Are you finding your eyes drooping at the end of a long, challenging week? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. With the schoolyear ending and summer right around the corner, I think that many of us are feeling the heat and are more than ready for Memorial Day weekend! 

And what better way to kick things off than with a Feature Friday? Today, we’re getting to know one of the West Coast’s most esteemed jazz drummers—Lorca Hart. Growing up in a musical family in New Mexico, Hart began performing in high school, then attended the California Institute of Arts and is now part of the wonderful Lorca Hart Trio! 

Drum roll please … 

If you are not playing jazz, what is your favorite music to play?

That’s a tough one—probably R&B.

If you were a song, which would you be and why?

Firm Roots by Cedar Walton. There’s something so positive and uplifting about this tune—I love the melody and it’s always a fun song to play!

Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

Maui.

Who is your dream collaboration (living or legend)?

Herbie Hancock.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Don’t get so caught up in planning for the future that you can’t enjoy living in the present.

Feature Friday with Josh Nelson

Feature Friday with Josh Nelson

I don’t know about you, but this week seems to have gone by very slowly. The constant weather changes can really put my body in a funk, but alas, it is finally Friday! We made it! It is finally the end of the week, and hopefully, the sun is shining, and the rain will go away. But even if dark clouds come your way, don’t worry, we have something that’ll brighten you weekend … a Feature Friday with pianist-composer-bandleader Josh Nelson!

But first, a little more about Josh. Born and raised in Southern California, he produced his first independent album at only age 19. And he didn’t stop there—he went on to produce seven more albums. One of his latest albums, The Sky Remains,blends narrative and music to tell a story about the city of LA. Nelson has also worked with many famous musicians, like legendary vocalist Natalie Cole, with whom he toured worldwide for six years.  

Now, time to learn some more about this talented and fascinating artist …

If you are not playing jazz, what is your favorite music to play?

I also enjoy playing R&B, classical, and Brazilian music.

If you were a song, which would you be and why?

Probably “The Age of Not Believing,” which is a Sherman Brothers song from the 1971 Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It’s a classic song to me—wonderful melody, lyric and harmony!

Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

Palm Springs, California!

Who is your dream collaboration (living or legend)?

With visionary Herbie Hancock; he inspires me so much. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

You can always make more money, but you can’t get the time back, so use that wisely! 

 

What’s the history of the EP & LP?

What’s the history of the EP & LP?

In order to answer this question, we need to take a quick lesson on the history of music distribution. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, vinyl records were invented in the 1940s and were the predecessors of CDs and digital audio recordings. Lately, vinyl has been making quite the comeback, and we even hopped on the bandwagon with our limited-edition vinyl record of Lovers & Love Songs, which is available in our store today.

But what came before vinyl records?

The phonautograph, invented in 1857 by a French printer and bookseller named Léon Scott, is the earliest example of musical recording. Although the phonautograph didn’t actually produce any audible sound, it did record sound waves as graphical tracings on sheet paper. These tracings weren’t used to play the music back, but rather to analyze it visually.

In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, which was groundbreaking in its ability to both record and reproduce sound. Edison’s hollow wax cylinder became the most predominant form of musical recording in the early 20th century.

This cylinder, however, could only play for about two minutes, which led Emile Berliner to pioneer lateral-cut disc records and the gramophone. Initially, the cylinders still had better sound quality, but eventually, Berliner improved the mechanisms of the gramophone and created 12-inch records in 1903, which could play music for over four minutes! Thus began the short-lived format war between cylinders and discs, with analog discs ultimately winning, and dominating the industry until the 1980s when digital compact discs were invented.

Alright, so now that you know all about the history of music recording and distribution, you’re probably wondering, where do EPs and LPs fit into all of this?

Well, since phonograph cylinders could only hold two to four minutes of audio, all music releases in the early 1900s were essentially singles. These singles became known as SP, meaning standard play.

Then, in the mid-20th century there was a format battle between Columbia’s 33 1/3 rpm LP (Long Play) and RCA Victor’s 45 rpm. Columbia’s LP held up to two complete songs, while RCA’s version held one song on each side with better sound quality. In 1952, RCA then invented another improvement with the EP (Extended Play) 45, which had twice the recording time.

So, essentially, the EP and LP arose from a commercial battle akin to the competition between Blu-rays and DVD. The LP, however, with its ability to hold more content gained more traction than the EP.

Today, however, artists who are just starting out in their careers often release EP albums, which only have 4 to 6 songs and are thus easier and cheaper to produce than LP albums, which have 10 to 12 tracks or more.

Here at Night Is Alive, we mostly produce LP albums, like our new 2022 release, Old New Borrowed & Blue, which merges the musical artistry of new songs with jazz classics. Old New Borrowed & Blue is available in our store and on all major music platforms!

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Mexican Music for Cinco de Mayo

Mexican Music for Cinco de Mayo

Even though Cinco de Mayo has already passed (it was on May 5th), that doesn’t mean it’s too late to celebrate the holiday that commemorates the Mexican victory over France in 1862! Because really, is there ever a bad time to drink a jalapeño margarita on the back patio?

This month, though, do more than just eat a taco and drink a margarita—delve deeper into Mexican culture by listening to these jazz songs that’ll introduce you to the music history of Mexico!

Luis Miguel – México en la piel

Translated to “Mexico on the skin,” this 2004 mariachi-inspired song celebrates Mexico by taking the listener on a trip around the country. It gives the impression that you are in a helicopter overlooking the beautiful panoramas of the diverse landscapes. Like looking at the mountain range of Chihuahua, or the craftworks made in San Miguel, climbing the Cerro de la Silla, that’s how you wear Mexico on the skin.

Luis Miguel—nicknamed “The Sun of Mexico”—is one of the biggest stars in Mexico. Since his career took off in the early 80s, he has sung in a plethora of genres, including pop, jazz, big band, and mariachi, but has always stayed true to his heritage. Unlike many other Latin singers of the 90s, Miguel never recorded in English, only Spanish. 

José José – El Triste

Mexican musician and actor José José began his career playing the guitar, singing serenades, and later, playing in a jazz and bossa nova trio. It wasn’t until 1970 though, at the Latin music festival in Mexico City, when he sang this song (translated to “The Sad One”), that he gained universal fame and critical acclaim as a balladeer.

With its unique melody and sublime lyrics about the loss of a loved one, this song instantly touched the hearts of many and catapulted José José into stardom. After the first performance, the audience insisted that the singer won the festival competition. Despite the fact that he only ended up receiving third place, “El Triste” still became part of the popular Mexican music repertoire and is now viewed as an icon of Mexican culture!

Juan Garcia Esquivel – Mucha Muchacha

Have you ever heard of “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music”? It’s the type of music that a suave, slicked-back guy would play while drinking a cocktail in his upscale apartment. “Mucha Muchacha” is a prime example of the subgenre, which was pioneered by Mexican band leader, pianist, and composer Esquivel in the 1950s and 60s. As you can probably tell from listening, this style of music is very quirky, experimental, and sophisticated. It is largely instrumental and fuses lounge music and jazz with a Latino touch.

Unfortunately, Night is Alive has not yet produced any Mexican style albums, but we have plans to add the genre to our library soon! In the meantime, if José José’s song has you feeling blue, we do have a new album out called Old New Borrowed & Blue, which features some beautifully poignant instrumentals, like “Blue and Sentimental.” The album is available in our store and on all major music platforms.

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.