Songs to Listen to While Baking Cookies

Songs to Listen to While Baking Cookies

It’s that time of the year again. Whether snow is gently falling on your windowpanes or sunlight is streaming through, the holidays are fast approaching.

If you’re living in the southern hemisphere, it can sometimes be difficult to get yourself into the Christmas spirit. Most of the popular holiday songs and movies out there take place in colder climates—small towns nestled in snow-covered mountaintops, people dressed in hats and mittens, chestnuts roasting on an open fire. So, if your holidays usually consist of beachside barbeques, swimsuits, and sunglasses, you might be feeling a tad left out.

But don’t worry. We know just what’ll do the trick to get you in the spirit . . . baking Christmas cookies! There’s nothing else that can make you feel more like one of Santa’s elves. And some lively holiday tunes will also be sure to get you in the mood for some holiday cheer!

George Strait – Christmas Cookies

I don’t know about you, but country music usually makes me think of summertime. So, if you’re living in a tropical climate during the holidays, nothing can really beat Christmas country music!

This 2021 song is literally perfect for baking cookies because the cute and descriptive lyrics will get you excited and make your tummy rumble! The ones that look like Santa Claus, Christmas trees and bells and stars . . . sometimes I can’t get myself to stop . . .

John Di Martino, Wayne Escoffery & Lonnie Plaxico – Blue Christmas

Did you know that singing, even if it’s off-key, can greatly improve your happiness levels? Yes, it’s true! That’s why this December, you should make sure to belt out the lyrics to your favorite Christmas songs.

I’m sure that this new, jazzy instrumental rendition of Elvis’s hit “Blue Christmas” will prove to be a fan favorite since you and your family can all easily sing along while you bake cookies. Don’t worry, I’m sure no one will notice if you’re not all harmonized . . .

Nat King Cole – Deck the Halls

Even if you’re not much of a singer, chances are that you know the lyrics to this Christmas classic. And the range in tone is pretty limited, so it doesn’t matter whether your voice is an alto or bass! No matter who you are, you can handle this song, so there’s no excuse not to “fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la” along with everyone while you mix up batter, knead dough or cut out cookies.

Bill Cunliffe Trio – It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

This slow and whimsical rendition from Grammy-Award-Winner Bill Cunliffe really lingers in the beautiful details, just like the intricate icing and sprinkles on the sugar cookies you’ll be making. Sing along or even hum softly as you wrap up a lovely afternoon or evening full of Yuletide cheer.

John Di Martino, Wayne Escoffery & Andromeda Turre – Happy Hanukkah

Unfortunately, amid all the images of Santa Claus and baby Jesus in the manger, Hanukkah tends to get overlooked sometimes. But not anymore! This new song, featuring the stunning vocals of Andromeda Turre, shines light on the Jewish holiday.  

If you’re looking for more holiday songs to listen to while you bake cookies, we recommend checking out our holiday album collection, which features stars like Andromeda Turre, Bill Cunliffe & John Di Martino. 

Songs for a Sagittarius’s Birthday Party! 

Songs for a Sagittarius’s Birthday Party!

Whether you’re a big fan of zodiac signs or not, chances are that you have a friend or loved one who was born sometime between November 22 and December 21, which makes them a Sagittarius!

Known for their optimism, honesty, spontaneity, and fun-loving outlooks on life, it comes as no surprise that many pop stars are Sagittarius—just to name a few, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Nicki Minaj.

But what about jazz? Well, the same applies! As we explored in our most recent Q&A series, with jazz journalist Joe Lang, Hoagy Carmichael is a Sagittarius. And so are Billy Strayhorn, Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra and many more.

In honor of the upcoming Sagittarius season, we put together a list of songs to play at the birthday party of your favorite Sagittarius!

Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn – Take the ‘A’ Train

Born on November 29, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio, Billy Strayhorn grew up to become one of the most famous jazz composers in American history. After moving to Pittsburgh as a child and studying classical music, Strayhorn met Duke Ellington at one of the band leader’s performances.

Strayhorn had the courage to show Ellington how he would have arranged one of his pieces differently! Luckily, the bold move paid off and Ellington was impressed enough to invite Strayhorn to play with his band, which led to many collaborations, such as this 1939 standard about the then-new A subway service running through New York City.

Louis Prima – Buona Sera

Known as “The King of Swing,” this American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter is one powerhouse of a Sagittarius.

Born on December 7, 1910, to an Italian American family in New Orleans, Louis Prima not only helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s, but he also embraced his Italian heritage by blending elements of his Sicilian identity, such as the tarantella, with his jazz. This helped pave the way for other ethnic musicians, who, unfortunately, at that time, were discouraged from expressing their roots.

And did you know that Prima was also the voice actor for the orangutan King Louie in the 1967 Disney movie The Jungle Book? Talk about a fun-loving Sagittarius!

Frank Sinatra – Let’s Fall in Love

Even if you don’t know anything about jazz, you’ve definitely heard of Frank Sinatra, who is one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time.

Also nicknamed “Chairman of the Board” and “Ole ‘Blue Eyes,” this singer and actor was born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey to Italian immigrants. As a child, he became interested in big band jazz, and was deeply inspired by the easy-listening vocal style of Bing Crosby.

He got his first break in 1935 when he joined a local singing group and eventually rose to stardom, with an estimated 150 million record sales!

The WJ3 All-Stars – Broadway

This new tune—featuring many of the hottest contemporary jazz stars, like Willie Jones III, Wayne Escoffery and Steve Davis—really captures the spunky and spontaneous spirit of a Sagittarius! Just like the stars of Broadway, a Sagittarius is meant to shine bright.

For more spunky jazz tunes to play at a Sagittarius’s birthday party, check out our newest album, My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms.

This post was written by Night is Alive Blog Editor and Digital Marketing Manager Jacqueline Knirnschild.

What is Syncopation?

What is Syncopation?

As a jazz fan, you obviously love listening to the notes flowing out from the bell of a saxophone, but can you actually visualize those notes, on a staff? Are you able to see the music as well as hear it?

Trust us, learning a bit about musical composition won’t ruin the magic of jazz—far from it, it’ll only enhance it. Because when you gain a deeper understanding of all the intricacies, you’ll develop an even stronger appreciation for the enchanting nature of jazz music!

So, in that spirit, we’re continuing our blog series on the basics of musical theory and composition. If you’re curious to learn more, check out our posts about melody, harmony, and polyphony.

Today, we’re going to be learning about syncopation. But first, before we talk about that, let’s quickly run through the concepts of rhythm and beat. As you might already know, every piece of music has an internal natural flow, like a pulse or the ticking of a clock, that repeats until the end. This pulse is called the rhythm, which is organized into beats per measure.

Syncopation is a rhythmic structure that avoids the natural flow, or beats, of a piece. And how does syncopation avoid the beats, you may be wondering. Well, it’s actually quite simple—the notes are displaced so that they don’t fall precisely on the beats of the time signature. Instead, the notes can be played in anticipation—earlier than you’d expect—right before the marked beats, or they can be delayed and played after each beat of the pulse.

Believe it or not, in some melodies, every single note is syncopated—meaning that every note falls before or after the beat! And in jazz, this is a very popular technique. Most jazz musicians prefer to accentuate the upbeats. So, if you’re tapping your foot along to the music, the notes that are played when your foot is in the air are the ones that are emphasized.

Now this all may sound very complicated, but to the jazz musician, it actually comes quite naturally—eventually, master musicians do it intuitively, just like how you fluctuate your voice while speaking.

Syncopating notes gives the musician freedom to express their own interpretations of the beat. And to be honest, if there was no syncopation, jazz simply wouldn’t be jazz—it wouldn’t sound right—because most jazz compositions incorporate a mixture of syncopated and non-syncopated notes.

Many well-known songs from “Hey Diddle Diddle” to “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” include syncopated notes.

Can you spot any syncopation in this 2022 jazz rendition of “Can’t Buy Me Love” from the WJ3 All-Stars?

“Can’t Buy Me Love” comes from the album My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms today.

This post was written by Digital Marketing Manager, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Five Songs for a Road Trip Out West

Five Songs for a Road Trip Out West

I don’t know about you, but I start to feel a bit of ennui during the late part of the summer. Especially when I was a kid, out of school for months, I’d start to feel a bit restless by mid-to-late August. Maybe this is why August is such a popular month for people to take a trip out to the American West?!

The American West is filled with unparalleled natural beauty that is sure to satisfy your craving for the picturesque. The pristine lakes and remarkable mountains of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The stunning red rock landscapes of Moab, Utah. The hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles of Yellowstone National Park.

And with all the outdoor activities—hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, just to name a few—the West is definitely the place to go to find some adventure!

Now, the most important question: what music should you listen to on your road trip out to the great American west? Don’t worry, we got you covered with the best tunes to get you in the mood for your vacation!

Marty Robbins – Ballad of the Alamo

This song comes from the epic 1960 historical war film, “The Alamo,” which stars John Wayne as Davy Crockett. Listen to this ballad before you tour the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas and as you’re walking around, you’ll notice that between the setting and the rising of the sun, you can hear a ghostly bugle as the men go marching by . . .

Eddy Arnold – Cattle Call

As you’re driving out west in your car or RV, you’re going to see plenty of open spaces, fields and, of course, cattle! This fun 1934 tune will be sure to put a grin on your face as you admire the cows and oxen. 

Maybe if you’re feeling especially frisky, you can stick your head out the window and say hello to the livestock! Moo! Who knows, maybe you’ll help scare away the howlin’ coyotes!

Sons of the Pioneers – Tumbling Tumbleweeds

First recorded in 1934, this western ballad captured the spirit of the Great Depression. Following the Dust Bowl, the “Dirty Thirties” saw many men wandering around the country looking for work, drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

And did you know that the Sons of the Pioneers, founded in 1933, are actually still around today? Of course, the membership has changed frequently over the years, but they are now one of the longest-surviving country groups in the world!

Harve Presnell – They Call the Wind Maria

This song was written for the 1951 Broadway musical, Paint Your Wagon, which takes place during the California Gold Rush of the mid 19th century. The driving, staccato rhythm of the tune, played on the string instruments, creates a sense of restless, unending motion, as if one is riding a horse or cowboy all day and night long!

Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Always on My Mind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erNCR–NNMk

A classic tune performed by everyone from Loretta Lynn to Elvis, and, of course, the figure of outlaw country himself, Willie Nelson, this iconic ballad just had to be included on our list. The strong sense of bittersweet regret is simply timeless.

But have you ever heard a jazzy rendition of the song? Boy are you in for a treat with this new recording that features an impeccable flute solo by Aaron Heick!

“Always on My Mind” comes from our country jazz album, Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which is available on all major music platforms and in our store today.