My Ship

my ship

wj3 all-stars

MY SHIP - The New Album from the WJ3 All-Stars

Featuring Willie Jones III (drums/bandleader), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Steve Davis (trombone), Isaiah Thompson (piano), and Gerland Cannon (bass), My Ship includes nine contrasting tracks that each convey their own unique emotion.

LISTEN

  1. 01 – Willie Jones III – Can’t Buty Me Love 0:30
  2. 02 – Willie Jones III – God Bless The Child 0:30
  3. 03 – Willie Jones III – My Ship 0:30
  4. 04 – Willie Jones III – Broadway 0:30
  5. 05 – Willie Jones III – Taking A Chance On Love 0:30
  6. 06 – Willie Jones III – Star Eyes 0:30
  7. 07 – Willie Jones III – Wave 0:30
  8. 08 – Willie Jones III – I Should Care 0:30
  9. 09 – Willie Jones III – Christmas Time is Here 0:30

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THE WJ3 ALL-STARS

Willie Jones lll
Drums

Isaiah Thompson
Piano

Jeremy Pelt
Trumpet

Wayne Escoffery
Tenor Sax

Steve Davis
Trombone

Gerald Cannon
Bass

Is The Guitar Used In Jazz Music?

Is the guitar used in jazz music?

From Wes Montgomery to Django Reinhardt, there are many famous jazz guitarists throughout history, but is the guitar a traditional and typical jazz instrument? 

In honor of International Guitar Month, we are going to take a closer look at the role of the guitar in jazz music history. 

Early Jazz: 1880s to 1920s 

As we explored in an earlier blog post, jazz originated in New Orleans in the 1880s, where it developed from the African dance and drumming traditions of formerly enslaved peoples. 

In early New Orleans jazz, the “front line” referred to the three instruments that were played simultaneously to create a melody: the cornet, clarinet, and trombone. These instruments were used for collective “call and response” improvisation. 

During this early stage of jazz, the guitar usually wasn’t given a solo part; instead, it took on more of a supportive role. Guitars—along with drums, piano, and banjo—were used to create a steady, driving rhythm that contrasted nicely with the polyphony of the front line. 

One of the first jazz-orientated string bands was led by guitarist Charlie Galloway in 1889. Buddy Bolden’s bands also usually had a guitarist, and Nick Lucas performed the unaccompanied guitar solos in his 1922 tunes “Pickin’ the Guitar” and “Teasing The Frets.” But, the most famous jazz guitarist of this early era was definitely Eddie Lang, who, beginning in 1925 popularized the guitar as a solo instrument and is thus known as the “father of the jazz guitar.”  

Eddie Lang – I’ll Never Be The Same

Playing a Gibson L-4 guitar, Lang ultimately won the 1920s competition with the banjo, which was quickly becoming more commonplace than the guitar in jazz music. His contributions to the jazz guitar have inspired generations of musicians. 

Big Band & Swing Eras: 1930s & 40s

Although guitar had won the battle to be a consistent part of jazz, they still didn’t typically take center stage and were often drowned out by large bands. In the 1940s, Charlie Christian gave the guitar a louder voice when he electrically amplified his Gibson ES 50. The guitar was no longer just the soft steady rhythm in the background; it could be heard alongside the saxophone ad trumpet, and thus became a force to be reckoned with. 

Charlie Christian – Swing to Bop

Despite his early death at 25, Christian had a major influence on the role of the jazz guitar, especially when it came to playing intricate and impeccable solos, like this 1941 hit, “Swing to Bop.”

Innovations & Experimentation: 1950s & 60s

The 50s and 60s brought new foundations for the modern jazz guitar. Artists like Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Jim Hall experimented with different styles and techniques, like plucking the strings, extensive use of octaves and interactive improvisation in duos and trios. These innovators paved the way for jazz artists who were incorporating soul and R&B, like Grant Green.

Grant Green – Ain’t It Funky Now

With a unique and immediately recognizable sound that combines hard bop, soul jazz and bebop, Green’s bluesy and groovy guitar showcases the innovations of the 1960s & 70s. 

Jazz-Rock Fusion & European Styles: 1970s & 80s

Rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix influenced the jazz guitarists of this era to incorporate rock-style signal processing effects, like distortion ad flange pedals. At the same time, the delicate and ethereal sounds of European Jazz were also impacting jazz guitarists.

John McLaughlin – Peace Piece

A British pioneer of jazz fusion, McLaughlin blends rock, world music, Indian & Western classical music, flamenco, and blues!

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Songs That Are Full Of Hope

Songs That Are Full of Hope 

You know the myth: Pandora opened that infamous box, from which sprung all the misery and evil to plague humankind for eternity. However, not all was lost. She did manage to shut the box before one vital entity escaped: Hope. This is why humans are able to persevere and carry on, despite tantamount struggle.    

To feel hope is to expect a positive outcome and to trust that things will turn out for the best. Hope is important because it can ameliorate a difficult situation and motivate us to build a better future for ourselves. 

With the global pandemic, we have all become very familiar with the role of hope in our lives and world. But did you know that in 2018, a non-profit organization, Mothers in Crisis, designated April as the National Month of Hope? 

To help you celebrate the power of hope and inspire you to plant seeds of hope in your life, community, and world, we put together a playlist of exemplary songs that are full of hope. Enjoy! 

Nat King Cole – Smile

While listening to Nat King Cole’s 1954 hit, I can’t help but think of the well-known fact that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. With his pure, buttery baritone, Cole reminds us to smile even if our hearts our aching and breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by if you smile through your fear and sorrow.  

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

There’s just no way you can a list of hopeful songs without include this 1967 classic! And the production of this song actually also involved a certain level of hope on the part of Tammi Terrell. Apparently, she was a bit nervous and overwhelmed during the recording sessions because she hadn’t rehearsed the lyrics, but hope must’ve carried her through, because her vocals were excellent! 

Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up

Like most of his songs, this 1970 tune was created with firm roots in the black gospel tradition, which originated from the uplifting work songs of enslaved people. Much of Mayfield’s work also inspired the Black community to persevere, and maintain hope, on their quest toward freedom and equality. With just a little faith / if you put your mind to it / You can surely do it. 

Dinah Washington – Trouble in Mind

This vaudeville blues-style song was written by a jazz pianist, and first recorded, in the early 1920s. Since then, it has become a blues standard and been recorded by many artists in an array of styles. With its beautiful lyrics that instill a deep sense of hope, even in the very darkest of times, it’s no wonder that Dinah Washington’s 1952 rendition reached number four on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart.  

John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Hudson River Wind 

With the recent unpredictable and sporadic spring weather, this is the perfect jazz song to listen to and help you gain hope for a brighter, sunnier tomorrow! This brand-new tune reminds us that no matter how hard the harsh winds may be blowing, the river of life will persist and continue flowing. 

To hear more jazz songs that merge the musical artistry of the new with the traditions of the old, check out our album, Old New Borrowed & Blue, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms.   

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

What is a reed? What is a double reed?

What is a reed? What is a double reed?

If you’re not a musician, when you hear the word ‘reed,’ you probably think of the tall, slender green leaf that grows and sways on the outskirts of ponds and lakes. But did you know that the mouthpieces of woodwind instruments, like the clarinet, oboe, and saxophone, are all made from the hollow stems of these plants?

Giant Reed (Arundo donax)
from Wikipedia.org

The cane of the Arundo donax, which is also known as the giant reed plant, is stripped of its leaves, and left outside to soak in the sun, resulting in a nice golden-brown color.  The canes are then dried by the wind, and aged for a few years, until they are placed inside a humidity-controlled factory where they are cut into smaller tubes and split into four thin pieces. Next, the cane is cleaned, cut, and sanded into a shape that is flat on one side and conical on the other. Finally, it’s time for the most important step—the reed-cutting process. With a blade, the red is shaved, gently and carefully, from the back toward the tip and then lastly, the very top is cut ever so precisely. 

Sounds like a lot of work for such a tiny, fragile, thin reed? Well, you’re right—it sure is a lot of work, but for good reason. The reed is what vibrates and creates sound. Without a reed, the instrument simply cannot be played. That is why many professional oboists and bassoonists will purchase cane—already sanded into a flat-conical shape—and cut their reeds themselves.

As a former oboe player, myself, I know, firsthand, how crucial, complex and finnicky a double reed can be. If you do not have a quality reed, your instrument will be out of tune, or it may even squawk like a dying flamingo! I can’t tell you how many times I showed up to band practice with a reed that had accidentally cracked in the case, and my oboe wouldn’t make a single sound at all! That is why you always pack a back-up, or two, or three. 

Anyway, you may still be wondering, what is the difference between a reed and a double reed? Well, it’s actually quite obvious when you think about it—a single reed only consists of one piece of finely manipulated cane and thus, must be attached to a mouthpiece, while a double reed has two reeds that vibrate against one another to create a sound. A double reed twists into the top of the instrument, standing alone, while the single reed is fastened directly onto the mouthpiece. 

Now, check out the song below, which features the wonderful Wayne Escoffery on saxaphone, to hear a single reed in action! 

John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Tell Me Why

Despite the fact that a saxophone is made of metal, it uses a single reed, which classifies it as a woodwind, not a brass instrument. As you listen to the sax solo in this tune, you can think about and appreciate all the hard work that went into make the reed! 

And if you’re looking for more jazz music that merges the musical artistry of new songs with the jazz classics, check out our recent release, Old New Borrowed & Blue, which is available on all major music platforms and in our store today!

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild. 

The Art of the Album – How Design goes from Idea to Action

The Art of the Album Cover - From Idea to Action

My name is Benjamin, the creative director here at Night is Alive, and just one piece of a massive cog that tries daily to craft content for our fans and Jazz enthusiasts all across this massive globe we call Earth. My daily duties are usually things like making sure the website looks good and is working as it should, making sure the Social Media sites are unified and looking their best, and, most importantly, ensuring that all of our new music is getting into the hands of the folks who are looking for it. 

That last step, marketing our albums, ties directly into my favorite part of this job: Working on Album designs!

It’s weird to think about, but in many cases, the album design is the first thing you’re interacting with you’re introduced to a new album – even before you hear the music itself, you’re looking at the social media post, the record or CD cover, and thinking, “hmm, is this album going to be worth my time?”

The process of designing how a new album will look is always tied to the story of the music. Every album has a story, or at the bare minimum, a feeling that can then be turned into a story. Our album Lovers and Love Songs was tied to a massive love story that had listeners playing along in a massive AR game that sent them across the US traveling to random websites, and real world locations, to figure out how the story ends. A few years later when we released Cryin’ in My Whiskey we leaned heavily on the old country tropes of cowboys reflecting on a lost love while walking down a sunset dirt road. The story is important.

For Old New Borrowed and Blue we decided to let the color palette be the story. That may sound like a cop-out but here’s the thing. We, human beings, are very interesting and complicated creatures, especially when feelings are involved. There are ways that we can convey just a small part of an idea and you, the viewer’s mind, will fill in all of the blanks with a story that is unique to you. It’s like when you smell something you recognize from your past and suddenly your memory is flooded with moments that were locked behind the barriers of time. Colors, shapes, sounds, smells, tastes – all of these are tools to jumpstart your brain into weaving its own narrative.

Let’s start with the title of the Album: Old New Borrowed & Blue. Right off the bat we have 4 very strong descriptors to start from. Old and New sort of go together, so we should treat them as such. That brings our options down to 3. Borrowed is a fun idea with a great number of ways to evoke ideas of the past and interactions of taking and perhaps giving back. For this album, however, we decided to focus on Blue. Blue is great because it’s both figurative and literal. It’s a color, it’s a feeling, an emotion, a movement. In short, it was an easy choice to focus on this as our main story generation device. 

The next step is research. Jazz is about history. More specifically, it’s about Jazz’s own history. There aren’t many musical genres that hold themselves to major standards as much as Jazz does. With that in mind, we went through pretty much the entirety of Jazz’s historical music catalog looking for both places to take inspiration as well as places to veer off into new directions. Really quickly, I should mention, that even before I started the research phase I did have one possible idea: Go to the local home improvement store and just grab a ton of different shades of blue paint chips and then turn them into an almost “roofing tile” type of tactile artwork. I thought that would look cool and also have a neat 3D-ish look to it that would set it apart from the usual 2D look of nearly all other album artworks. Imagine my glee when I stumbled across Blue Note’s True Blue record and saw an obvious tie between their album design and my own idea!  I realized this color watch idea would be a great homage to an epic album.

We can’t stop there though. So far, we have one idea ready to go, but in this modern age of digital consumption, it’s a good idea to have several designs ready for the myriad uses the internet and social media offer its users. I came up with two other ideas that relied on the color blue in the abstract. One would be a simple watercolor where we just let several hues of blue mix on wet paper, and the second would be a similar watercolor technique, only contained into a shape. The final idea is to use all three designs as interchangeable “cover art”. Again, this approach lets us swap out to a fresh design whenever we want and helps keep the marketing from getting visually stale too quickly. 

Below are the photos of each design in its raw form.

And here are the those pieces of artwork placed into their final designs.

We’ve chosen Helvetica Now as our font. The reasons are simple: Helvetica is absolutely timeless and can fit seamlessly into so many different types of design. We color it to match our title theme and viola! We’re done!

The next part of the puzzle is wrapping this design around album packaging and putting it in front of the fans!

 

Benjamin Lehman

Benjamin Lehman

Benjamin Lehman is a creative director and photographer from San Francisco who now calls the eastern side of the US his home. He has worked on projects both large and small with clients that include, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Netgear, LA Lakers, LA Kings, Facebook, Night is Alive, and so many more!

Old New Borrowed and Blue

OLD

NEW

BORROWED

& BLUE

the new album from night is alive

Old New Borrowed & Blue is the new jazz album from Night is Alive that merges the musical artistry of new songs with jazz classics. 

  1. 2 Degrees East 3 Degrees West 30s 0:30
  2. Blue and Sentimental 30s 0:30
  3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 30s 0:30
  4. Hudson River Wind 30s 2 0:30
  5. Jimmy, Mini and Me 30s 0:30
  6. Please Don’t Go 30s 0:30
  7. Tell Me Why 30s v2 0:30
  8. The Gypsy 30s 0:30
  9. Tune for Mr T 30s 0:30

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THE BAND

John DiMartino • Musical Director & Piano
Joe Magnarelli • Trumpet
Wayne Escoffery • Tenor & Alto Sax
Lonnie Plaxico • Bass
Willie Jones III • Drums

swatch-3
swatch1

THE MUSIC

HUDSON RIVER WIND
TELL ME WHY
BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL
TUNE FOR MR. T
JIMMY, MIMI & ME
PLEASE DON’T GO
THE GYPSY
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN
2 DEGREES EAST, 3 DEGREES WEST

Studio Photography by the amazing Chris Drukker. 

ABOUT THE ALBUM

Night is Alive Album Release January 5, 2022: Old New Borrowed & Blue

Night is Alive, under the leadership of Managing Director/Producer Kathy Salem, is thrilled to announce the release of Old New Borrowed & Blue.

It isn’t an easy time to be in the music industry, and it’s especially difficult to record new music. That is why Ms. Salem wanted to produce an album that featured new compositions by Night is Alive musicians in addition to classics. She said, “This album, in particular, is special to me. With a heightened awareness of how jazz compositions are really created, I produced this new CD with originals by Night is Alive band members John [DiMartino], Wayne [Escoffery], and Joe [Magnarelli]. Of course, there are also the old and the borrowed for your more classic playlist.”

Featuring Night is Alive musicians John di Martino (musical director & piano), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Wayne Escoffery (saxophones), Lonnie Plaxico (bass), and Willie Jones III (drums), Old New Borrowed & Blue includes nine instrumental tracks that merge the musical artistry of new songs with jazz classics, such as old favorite “The Gypsy”.

You can find this album and more on Night is Alive’s website, www.nightisalive.com

How To Keep A New Year’s Resolution

How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution

The ball is about to drop in a few days, so you’re probably brainstorming ideas for your New Year’s resolution. Maybe you want to exercise more, eat healthier, get organized, save money, get more sleep, or read more. Whatever your goal is, we’re here to help you stick to it and make 2022 your happiest and healthiest year yet!

Make a Plan or Checklist

As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish, so you better get planning! Whether it be purchasing an agenda, making a spreadsheet, or crafting a cute poster board, you need to figure out what planning strategy works best for you. It’s important to have a physical, or digital, space to return to and mark your progress. Research also shows that crossing, or checking, items off on a list is extremely satisfying and motivating.

Reward Small Steps 

Rather than intimidating yourself with one enormous resolution, break your goal up into smaller, more manageable achievements. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, start by just exercising for just 15 minutes each day and limiting your late-night leftover Christmas cookie intake to just one. 

Or, if your resolution is to “get organized,” you can break that abstract idea into specific tasks that you can focus on each week, such as putting the laundry away as soon as it’s out of the dryer or creating designated drawers for all your knickknacks. Accomplishing these smaller tasks will encourage you to tackle the more difficult ones later down the road.

Develop Habits

Remember, research shows that it takes about 21 days to develop a new habit and a little more than two months to really solidify a habit, so just stick to your goals early on and things will get easier! This is also why it’s better to take small steps in the beginning while you’re still getting used to your new habit of going to bed early or reading one chapter each evening. 

Pause and Relax

Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t get discouraged. You can do it! Whenever you’re feeling down, take a moment to pause, breathe deeply and congratulate yourself for your efforts. It’s no easy feat to grow and change as a person, so good on you for taking up the challenge! 

When you’re down, it’s also always nice to listen to some upbeat music that’ll get you smiling and up off the couch, ready to face your resolution without fear. And since music is our game at Night Is Alive, we put together a few tunes that’ll have you tapping your toes all throughout January! 

Johnny Otis – Happy New Year Baby

Remember, you’re not the only one with a New Year’s resolution—people have been making these, and sticking to them, for years. Blues musician Johnny Otis even released a song in 1948 about his! I made a resolution I’m gonna keep the whole year through.  I’m gonna give up chasin’ women, whiskey drinkin’ too…

Janis Siegel & John Di Martino – Are You Alright?

When doing something difficult, it’s always good to check in with yourself and make sure that you’re alright and that you’re not pushing yourself too hard. This 2021 rendition of the Lucinda Williams song also offers a jazzy, fresh feel that’ll encourage you to imbue your life with change in the form of new, healthy habits. 

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Songs to Ring in the New Year – 2022

Songs to Ring in the New Year

With this new COVID variant, your holiday season may not be as lively as you might’ve imagined, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for subpar music. Whether you’re having a small gathering at home to watch the ball drop or braving the crowds at a bar or night club, you’re going to need some glittery, snazzy tunes to ring in the New Year! 

Ella Fitzgerald – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve 

New Year’s isn’t complete without a beautiful ballad from the Queen of Jazz. But did you know that this 1960 song was not intended to be played in December? The songwriter Frank Loesser, who also wrote the music and lyrics for Guys and Dolls, wanted the piece to be about a person who fell madly in love and thus made a rash commitment to meet his or her new beau far into the future. Maybe it’s much too early in the game. Ah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same—What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve? 

Smokey Hogg – New Year’s Eve Blues

If you’re stuck at home this New Year’s Eve and you don’t have someone to kiss at midnight, it might be comforting to listen to some blues, especially some country blues, which is one of the earliest forms of the genre. This 1948 tune laments a painful love, but ends on a resolute and slightly upbeat note: For twelve months long you kept my heart in pain… I only treat you kind… I’m gonna leave you on New Year. Maybe this is just the song you need to let go of that broken relationship and start fresh in 2022!

And, if, after listening to this song, you’re wondering what exactly the difference between blues and jazz is, don’t worry, we have a blog post all about it! See here. 

B.B. King – Bringing in A Brand New Year

Alright, now that you released those more negative emotions with the blues song from Smokey Hogg, it’s time for something a bit more upbeat! This swinging tune comes from B.B. King’s 39th studio album, titled A Christmas Celebration of Hope, which seems very appropriate for this year. The lyrics are all about embracing the excitement of the New Year, particularly when it comes to flirting with someone new, so grab your dancing shoes and get out there! Gonna be a great big parade… sailin’ down a rainbow, I’ll flirt with lady moon…

Lorca Hart Trio – MoJoe

There’s no better way to finish off the countdown and celebrate the fireworks, kazoos, and confetti than with an exciting drum solo! After you’ve hugged all your loved ones close and wished them a happy new year, turn this tune on to keep the party going and remind everyone that you’ll be keeping your mojo in 2022!

If you’re looking for more jazz tunes to play this New Year’s, check out our many albums, such as Lorca Hart Trio’s Colors of Jazz and WJ3 All-Stars’ Lovers and Love Songs, both of which are available online now, in our store and on all major music platforms. And if you’re interested in booking one of our lovely musicians for your New Year’s party, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be

CHRISTMAS
AIN’T LIKE
IT USED
TO BE

the new album featuring john di martino & willie jones III

WITH SONGS

Watch the new video for "happy hanukkah, my friend"

  1. 01 30s A Christmas Love Song 0:30
  2. 02 30s Make December Stay 0:30
  3. 03 30s Our First Christmas 0:30
  4. 04 30s Christmas to Christmas 0:30
  5. 05 30s Star of Wonder 0:30
  6. 06 30s Blue Christmas 0:30
  7. 07 30s Christms Ain’t Like It Used To Be 0:30
  8. 08 30s Happy Hanukah 0:30
  9. 09 30s Sleigh In The Sky 0:30

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FEATURING

John Di Martino

Andromeda Turre

Wayne Escoffery

Lonnie Plaxico

Willie Jones III

Studio: Teaneck Sound Studio – June 8, 2021
Engineer: Dave Kowalski
Mixed and Mastered: Bass Hit Studio – June 21 and 22, 2021
Engineer: Dave Darlington
Produced by: John Di Martino
Executive Producer: Kathy Salem
Studio Photography: Chris Drukker
Album Design and Photography: Benjamin Lehman
On the Cover: Jeffrey Swan
Visit www.nightisalive.com for the best in Jazz music
Night is Alive Productions, LLC