News from Elsewhere, Article VII

“Making a Recording: Mixing and Mastering This Christmas with Night Is Alive

Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

It has been a very long time since our last News from Elsewhere. There are the usual excuses: I have Covid, I am busy with other musical responsibilities, I forgot about writing these (that’s the best one)…and anything else I forgot to use as an explanation. With all that in mind, I am going to start with today: August 11, 2023. Here I am in New York City one of my favorite places in the world and it is always a joy to record here and finish the product for your enjoyment.

Today I spent the day in Bass Hit Studios in New York, New York recording Night is Alive’s newest holiday album, This Christmas With Night is Alive. The studio is owned by Dave Darlington. He is the master and mixing expert and one of the best in the business.

Joining us in the studio was saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, who is producer of This Christmas with Night is Alive. Wayne can be heard on quite a few of Night is Alive’s other recordings, including Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be, Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue, and My Ship. You can learn more about him by visiting

Recording an album is so much more involved than just showing up and playing into microphones. Our day began around 11:00 a.m. and finished up around 7:00 p.m. Hours are spent mixing and mastering the music for all of our listeners to enjoy the most perfect sound possible. This is a long day, as we listen to every note and take special care adjusting every song. This means paying attention to the smallest details, including:

  • Are individual instruments too loud? Too soft?
  • How is the balance with the rhythm section – especially the drums?
  • Is the vocalist in tune?
  • Where is the bass?
  • Okay, let’s listen to the entire CD again and make sure the sound is cohesive.

This continues until we are happy with the overall sound of each tune. After that, we need to decide on song order, especially the first and last tracks. The length of each tune is also important – we do our best to keep each track under 5 minutes 30 seconds. We managed to accomplish this goal today! Keeping the tracks from being too lengthy is good for DJs, who are always looking for that one tune to fill a certain play space.

One of the fun aspects of recording is working with the musicians and experiencing how much they care about every song they play. We at Night is Alive are very excited about this new Holiday music. As always, we are committed to bringing you the best and hottest musicians and providing the greatest listening experience possible.

Be sure to keep an eye out for future News from Elsewhere articles, which will focus on my memories of the past few years. Make sure you don’t miss an update: subscribe to News from Elsewhere so you can receive new articles as soon as they become available. Just send us a message with the comment text, “Sign me up for News from Elsewhere emails”.

For more information about This Christmas with Night is Alive and our world-class musicians, please visit our web page ( or contact directly via phone.

Article by Kathy Salem, Producer & Managing Director, Night is Alive

Revised and transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Principal Editor, Night is Alive

This Christmas

This Christmas

The New Holiday Jazz Album From Night Is Alive!

Listen Now

About the Muscians

Night is Alive proudly presents “This Christmas,” an extraordinary album that brings together the unparalleled talents of Teddy Horangic and Frank Lacy on vocals, accompanied by an exceptional lineup of musicians.

Featuring the mesmerizing melodies of Xavier Davis on piano, the soulful saxophone tunes by Wayne Escoffery, the soaring trumpet sounds of Jeremy Pelt, the rich trombone tones of James Burton III, the groovy bass lines of Richie Goods, and the rhythmic beats of Quincy Davis on drums, this album is a masterpiece of musical collaboration and holiday cheer.

Indulge in the joyous sounds of the season with timeless tracks like “Let It Snow,” “We Three Kings,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas,” “This Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” and “The Christmas Song.” Each song is beautifully reimagined with the signature jazz flair that will warm your heart and transport you to a world of festive celebration.

Whether you’re hosting a cozy gathering by the fireplace or simply looking to immerse yourself in the magic of Christmas, “This Christmas” is the perfect soundtrack for your holiday moments.

Available Now!

Be among the first to experience this musical extravaganza! Let the enchanting sounds of Teddy Horangic, Frank Lacy, and these remarkable musicians bring the spirit of the holidays into your home.

Wishing you a joyous and melodious holiday season!

Warm regards,
Night is Alive

The Band

Teddy Horangic — Vocals

Frank Lacy — Vocals

Xavier Davis — Piano

Wayne Escoffery — Saxophone

Jeremy Pelt — Trumpet

James Burton III — Trombone

Richie Goods — Bass

Quincy Davis — Drums

Additional Credits

Executive Producer — Kathy Salem
Producer/Musical Director — Wayne Escoffery
Arrangements — Xavier Davis
Recorded at Sear Sound, New York, NY (June 19, 2023)
Engineer — Katsuhiko Naito
Post Prod. at Out of the House Studios, Harlem, NY (June 26, 2023)
Mix & Mastering — Dave Darlington
Photos & Album Design — Benjamin Lehman

Decoding Musical Notation: Unveiling the Meaning of Different Notes

(Featured Image: Dayne Topkin on Unsplash )

Music, the universal language that transcends cultural boundaries, has the power to evoke emotions, tell stories, and bring people together. At the heart of this intricate art lies musical notation, a system of symbols that conveys melodies, rhythms, and harmonies to musicians. Among these symbols, notes stand as the fundamental building blocks of music. Each note carries a distinct meaning, and understanding their significance is essential for any aspiring musician or curious listener. In this blog, we’ll embark on a journey to decode the meanings behind the different notes in musical notation.

The Basics: Pitch and Duration

Before delving into the specifics of individual notes, it’s crucial to grasp two fundamental aspects of music that notes encapsulate: pitch and duration.

    1. Pitch: Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a musical sound. In notation, this is represented vertically on a set of five parallel lines called a staff. Notes placed higher on the staff indicate higher pitches, while notes positioned lower represent lower pitches.

    1. Duration: Duration refers to the length of time a note is held or played. It’s symbolized by various note shapes and their associated stems and flags.

Understanding Note Values

In musical notation, different note shapes represent distinct note values, indicating the duration of each note. Here are some of the most common note values and their meanings:

    1. Whole Note: A circular note head without a stem. It represents the longest duration among note values. When played, it’s typically held for four beats in 4/4 time signature, the most common time signature.

    1. Half Note: A note head with a stem pointing upward or downward. It’s held for two beats in 4/4 time signature.

    1. Quarter Note: Similar to a half note, but with a filled-in note head. It’s played for one beat in 4/4 time signature.

    1. Eighth Note: An eighth note has a filled-in note head and a flag attached to its stem. It’s played for half a beat in 4/4 time signature.

    1. Sixteenth Note: With two flags attached to the stem, a sixteenth note is played for one-fourth of a beat in 4/4 time signature.

    1. Thirty-Second Note: This note has three flags attached to its stem and is played for one-eighth of a beat in 4/4 time signature.

Combining Notes: Understanding Rhythmic Patterns

Once you’re familiar with individual note values, the next step is to comprehend how they combine to create rhythmic patterns. Rests, symbols representing periods of silence, are also essential to understand rhythm. Here are some common combinations:

    1. Ties: Ties connect two or more notes of the same pitch, indicating that they are held for a combined duration.

    1. Dotted Notes: A dot placed after a note increases its duration by half. For instance, a dotted half note is equivalent to three beats in 4/4 time.

    1. Triplets: Triplets divide a beat into three equal parts. Three triplet eighth notes, for example, would be played in the time normally occupied by two regular eighth notes.

The Last Word

(Songs for Ganda, by the Lorca Hart Trio, is a masterpiece of Jazz notation in action)

In the world of music, notes serve as the bridge between the composer’s imagination and the performer’s rendition. By understanding the meanings behind different notes in musical notation, you gain the ability to read, interpret, and bring to life the intricate melodies and rhythms that have shaped human expression for centuries. Whether you’re a musician or an appreciative listener, delving into the world of musical notation opens up a new dimension of understanding and enjoyment, enriching your musical experience. So next time you hear a beautiful melody, remember that the notes are like the words of a language that speaks directly to our hearts and souls.

John Philip Sousa and Patriotic Jazz Music 

John Philip Sousa was a prolific composer of military marches and many other musical works. He earned the moniker, “The March King, because he composed over 130 marches. Perhaps his best-known works are “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and “The Washington Post March.” He also composed “Semper Fidelis,” the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps. You might not know that he also composed operettas, dances, orchestral suites, and overtures.

Sousa was born on November 6, 1854, in Washington, D.C. His father, Antonio, was a musician in the Marine Band. John Philip Sousa studied violin, piano, and brass instruments, and became a young apprentice with the Marine Band until he was 20 years old. For a time, he toured with theatrical orchestras and moved to Philadelphia, where he worked as a composer, arranger, and proofreader for a music publishing companies. Sousa returned to the Marine Corp and served as the 17th director of the Marine Band from 1880 to 1892. Under his leadership, the band attained new levels of excellence and popularity. Sousa played a role in the development of the sousaphone, as he sought a brass instrument similar to a tuba but was easier to play during parades.

John Philip Sousa went on to lead a civilian band after he left the Marine Corps. The band toured throughout the U.S. and Europe in the years leading up to World War I and helped to popularize ragtime in Europe. At age 62, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves after the United States declared war on Germany. Sousa was placed in charge of the band-training center at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois.   

Sousa’s compositions are often performed at celebrations during national holidays. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was designated as the official march of the U.S. in 1987.

The U.S. Marine Band, known as the President’s Own, is currently celebrating its 225th anniversary as the oldest continuously active professional music organization in the U.S. The Marine Corps also has a jazz orchestra featuring Marines from bands in San Diego and New Orleans.

The Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force. It was formed in 1950 to maintain the tradition of Major Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces dance band. The Airmen of Note perform big band music and contemporary jazz pieces throughout the world. The Jazz Ambassadors are the premier touring jazz band of the U.S. Army. This 19-piece ensemble performs jazz standards, patriotic music, and contemporary jazz as well as original compositions. Jazz vocalist Alexis Cole served in the U.S. Army for 6 years, where she performed with the West Point Jazz Knights.

The West Point Band and the U.S. Army Field Band (Jazz Ambassadors) perform versions of “God Bless America” and other patriotic music.

Some jazz musicians who have recorded iconic performances of patriotic songs include trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960. Armstrong believed that he was born on the Fourth of July, but his actual birthday was August 4.

Bassist Charlie Haden recorded a soothing instrumental version of “America the Beautiful” with saxophonist Michael Brecker, pianist Brad Mehldau, and other musicians. It appears on the “American Dreams” album.

Flutist Herbie Mann’s lilting version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” appears on his “Memphis Underground” album.

Patricia Martin

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Sounds of Spring

Featured Image by Benjamin Lehman

The calendar says that spring is here, no matter what the temperature outside reads. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. It is often a joyful season, with the return of outdoor parties and picnics, high school and college graduations, and family and class reunions. It may be a time for remembering people and places that once were familiar to us. Many jazz classics are inspired by spring. They reflect the season’s changing moods, ranging from the merry to the mellow to the melancholic.   

1. April in Paris—This classic song was written by E.Y. Harburg and Vernon Duke for the Broadway musical, Walk a Little Faster. It has been recorded many times since then. Perhaps the most famous instrumental version was recorded by Count Basie and his orchestra in 1955.  

2. It Might as Well Be Spring—This perennial favorite was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1945 musical film, “State Fair.” It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song the following year. The wistful lyrics compare the restlessness, anticipation, and longing to the feeling of having spring fever. 

3. Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most—Lyricist Fran Landesman drew inspiration for this 1955 bittersweet ballad from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land.” Versions have been recorded by many artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter.

4. I Remember April—This beautiful ballad has lyrics by Patricia Johnston and Don Raye, and music by Gene de Paul.  It likens the way a romance grows and subsides to the seasons of the year and the flames of a fire.  Bill Evans and Miles Davis have both recorded notable instrumental versions.

5.  Suddenly It’s Spring—This sweet ballad about the blossoming of new love was written by composer Jimmy van Heusen and lyricist Johnny Locke for the 1944 movie, Lady in the Dark. It appears on the album, “Call Me Irresponsible,” featuring vocalist Lucy Wijnands and John Di Martino and the Night Is Alive Band. 

6. Spring Is Here—This mournful tune about unrequited love was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the musical I Married an Angel.  Hart is believed to have written the lyrics after several of his marriage proposals were rejected by Vivienne Segal, the musical’s leading lady. Jazz vocalists who recorded “Spring Is Here” include Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Chris Connor. Pianist Bill Evans, bassists Charlie Haden and George Mraz, and vibraphonists  Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Locke have recorded the song. 

7. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year—This tune was written by Frank Loesser for the 1944 movie Christmas Holidaystarring Deanna Durbin. The singer reflects on her lost love, but remains confident that ultimately she will get over him. The song remained relatively obscure until the mid-1950s, when it was rediscovered and became a jazz standard. 

Author: Patricia Martin for Night is Alive

Wayne Shorter—Innovative Saxophonist and Prolific Composer

Wayne Shorter—Innovative Saxophonist and Prolific Composer

The passing of Wayne Shorter at age 89 on March 2, 2023 was a sad occasion for his many fans. Shorter had a career as a jazz saxophonist that spanned almost 70 years. Even after he stopped performing in 2018 due to health concerns, he continued to compose music. 

Shorter was born in Newark, New Jersey, on August 25, 1933. He had an older brother named Alan. Wayne’s mother encouraged her sons to be creative, even excusing them from chores so that they could use their imagination while playing. Wayne and Alan enjoyed reading comic books and recalling film music they heard while at the movies. Wayne hoped to become an artist one day. A watercolor painting of his won first prize in a contest held for children. His artistic talent enabled him to gain admission to the Newark Arts High School. However, after listening to a New York jazz radio program, he became fond of bebop. At age 15, Shorter began taking clarinet lessons. Later he switched to the tenor saxophone. Shorter was influenced by jazz legends such as Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Coleman Hawkins.

Wayne performed with local jazz bands so he could save money for college tuition. He majored in music education at New York University, though he wasn’t keen on becoming a music teacher. 

After graduation, Wayne was inducted into the U.S. Army, where he served for two years. He continued to play saxophone while in the Army. After his discharge, he joined Maynard Ferguson’s band for a brief time. He quit when drummer Art Blakey offered Shorter a spot with the Jazz Messengers. He was encouraged to compose music for the Jazz Messengers during his five-year stint and eventually became the group’s music director.  

Shorter went on to join the Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet in 1964. He released eight solo records on the Blue Note label, most of them while he was in Davis’ group. One of his classic compositions, “Footprints,” first appeared on Shorter’s Adams Apple album in 1966. The song was later recorded for Davis’ Miles Smiles album in 1967. With its 6/4 time signature and bluesy melody in the C Dorian mode, “Footprints” perhaps is the composition most associated with Shorter. 

After the quintet broke up in 1968, Shorter continued to collaborate with Davis, appearing on the studio albums, In a Silent Way and Bitches’ Brew. In 1970, Shorter went on to become a founding member of Weather Report, along with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and others. Weather Report enjoyed phenomenal popularity and acclaim, thanks to its fusion of jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, and other musical genres. During his 14 years with Weather Report, Shorter played both tenor and soprano sax and composed music for his bandmates.

 He continued to record albums under his own name and worked on side projects with other musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, and Carlos Santana. Shorter also toured and recorded albums as a member of V.S.O.P. during the late 1970s and early 1980s. 

Shorter returned to acoustic jazz in 2000, forming a quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. The Wayne Shorter Quartet released several live albums.  Shorter received numerous Grammy nominations and awards during his lifetime. In his later years, he worked on an ambitious project, an orchestral suite titled Emanon. He also composed an opera titled Iphigenia, inspired by Euripides’ play. It debuted in 2021.  

Patricia Martin 

April is Jazz Appreciation Month

Featured Image: Nils Schirmer on Unsplash

April was designated as Jazz Appreciation Month starting in 2001 by John Edward Hasse, the curator of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. Jazz Appreciation Month is an extension of Jazz Awareness Month, introduced by the Louisiana Jazz Federation in New Orleans in 1980. Schools, libraries, community organizations and other groups currently offer free educational programs and events to promote jazz awareness. Trumpeter Miles Davis is featured on the poster for Jazz Appreciation Month in 2023. He was a versatile musician associated with the bebop, cool jazz, and experimental jazz movements.

Jazz is regarded as the first unique style of music to emerge in America. It began in the late 1890s and early 1900s in the African American communities of New Orleans, though it was also influenced by Caribbean, Latin and European cultures. Ragtime, a popular style of music during that time, the blues, and the marches played by brass bands gave rise to a new type of music. Jazz soon became popular in other cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Kansas City. Radio broadcasts and early recordings allowed the music to reach even more listeners.

Jazz has helped to promote cultural and racial diversity and equality. The popularity of jazz during the 1920s and 1930s brought people of various ethnic backgrounds together, and many jazz musicians became familiar and respected figures in America and overseas. Jazz embodies the American ideals of freedom of expression, creativity, liberation, and diversity. It is associated with the Civil Rights Movement. Jazz has influenced and been influenced by other musical forms, such as rock, hip-hop, blues, and classical music. It has influenced fashion and literary movements as well.

Over the past 100 years, many different styles of jazz have emerged. Traditional, Dixieland, Swing, Big Band, bebop, and cool jazz were part of the first half of the 20th century. During the second half, musicians influenced by rock and rhythm and blues began adding electric piano, organ, guitar and bass guitar to their arrangements. Latin jazz, bossa nova, modal jazz, jazz fusion, avant-garde, modern, and freeform jazz were some of the subgenres to emerge. Jazz continues to evolve, as contemporary musicians compose and play nu jazz, electronica, and acid jazz.

Jazz is popular in many countries. Jazz Appreciation Month culminates with International Jazz Day on April 30. There will be many global live performances to mark the occasion. Jazz fans can check their local news outlets or look online to find events.

There are many ways to observe Jazz Appreciation Month. Revisit your favorite jazz album or jazz standards to evoke mellow moods and treasured memories. Explore new jazz releases or music by artists who seem interesting. Visit Night is Alive’s website for suggestions on new CDs. Read an autobiography by or biography about a famous jazz musician, or watch a movie or documentary about jazz. As the weather gets warmer, consider attending a live concert or jazz festival, or visit a nightclub.

Author: Patricia Martin

Remembering Jimmy Heath: Triple Threat

Photo by EAVONE Jazzman on Unsplash

Jimmy Heath, also known as “Little Bird,” was a legendary jazz saxophonist who appeared with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra at Playhouse Square in April 2012. Short in stature but long on talent, he was known as a “triple threat” for being a jazz composer, arranger, and musician.

Heath was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 25, 1926. Both of his parents had musical backgrounds. His father played clarinet in a marching band and his mother sang in the church choir. Jimmy’s older brother studied violin and later became a founding member and double bass player for the Modern Jazz Quartet. His younger brother Albert (Tootie) played drums. Jimmy Heath began playing alto saxophone at age fifteen. He and Percy attended high school in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Jimmy played saxophone in the marching band. Heath founded his first big band, the Jimmy Heath Orchestra, in 1946. After the band broke up in 1948, Jimmy and John Coltrane joined Dizzy Gillespie’s band. Jimmy also played with Gil Fuller’s Orchestra. Around that time, he switched to tenor sax. He was influenced by Charlie Parker and Johnny Hodges. Unfortunately, Jimmy became addicted to heroin, which ultimately led to his dismissal from Gillespie’s orchestra. He was later convicted of selling heroin and sent to Lexington, Kentucky, where he underwent withdrawal. After his release, he was convicted
again in 1955 for dealing drugs and sentenced to six years in prison. While incarcerated, he composed a number of songs and conducted the prison orchestra. He also learned to play the flute.

Heath was released from prison early and met his future wife Mona Brown shortly afterward. He recorded his first album for Riverside Records in 1959. He briefly toured with Miles Davis, but the terms of his probation made it difficult for him to travel with the band. Riverside Records went out of business in 1964, leaving Jimmy without a record contract until the early 1970s. He began teaching at Jazzmobile, a free music training program in Harlem, where he was commissioned to write several major compositions.

In 1975, Jimmy, Percy, and Albert Heath formed the Heath Brothers, along with Stanley Cowell on piano. Later, Jimmy’s older son James Mtume joined the group as a percussionist. Percy Heath died in 2005, but Jimmy and Albert continued to perform and record as the Heath Brothers with other musicians.

Jimmy Heath joined the music faculty of Queens College at the City University of New York, where he taught for over 20 years.

Jimmy Heath wrote over 100 compositions and appeared on 125 recordings during his career, which spanned over 7 decades. He was nominated for a Grammy Award three times and received the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2003. One of his noteworthy compositions, “Gemini”, was written for his daughter Rosyln and appears on his 1962 album, “Triple Threat. “ The instrumental has a ¾ time signature and features a haunting flute solo as the piece begins. “Gemini” became a hit for the Cannonball Adderley Sextet, whose live version was released in 1962. Other notable songs include ”Gingerbread Boy” and “C.T.A.”

In January 2020, the scrolling marquee at Playhouse Square announced the sad news that Jimmy Heath had died at age 93. I recalled how thrilled I was when he signed his CD “Turn Up the Heath” for me after the show in 2012.

Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery was one of Jimmy Heath’s former students at the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory. He appears on the recent Night Is Alive releases, “Old New Borrowed and Blue” and “My Ship.”

Author: Patricia Martin for Night is Alive