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

“Who is Singing Tonight?”

It all happened one week before a private donor appreciation event.

Musician and bandleader Bill Cunliffe was scheduled to perform with a vocalist and eight-piece band. Months of planning had gone into making sure the event would be as successful as possible, and announcements were distributed electronically and via snail mail by the Night is Alive Productions team. The vocalist had provided recordings featuring herself and Bill on Youtube and other social media as a preview for the honored guests. All was going according to plan.

The event was highly anticipated by all involved, as it was their first time in Akron, Ohio and the first time Oliver Nelson’s music would be performed, reimagined, almost 50 years after its original release. Tunes like “Stolen Moments” ( would have new life breathed into them by Bill and his group.

On the Thursday one week before the donor appreciation event, I was out of town on vacation. As Bill’s manager, I left town believing all was under control and running smoothly. He had booked his musicians and vocalist. The music was written and scored. The venue was secured. Little did I know, Bill was leaving messages on my cell phone with unhappy news: the vocalist was sick.

By the time I received the voicemails, it was Saturday and the date of the gig was inching closer. During times like these, one of my most important managing mottos comes into play: “It is not what you know, but who you know and what they think of you.” Bill, being a two-time Grammy award winner, is highly respected in the jazz world, and musicians are (thankfully) eager and willing to join him on the band stand. He reached out to fabulous vocalist Jane Monheit, who graciously agreed to perform on short notice and flew in on the red eye the evening before the event.

A testament to her world-class musicianship, Jane performed cold with barely any preparation and wowed the crowd with her poise and grace. Bill and the musicians in the band were also exceptional, their flexible professionalism leading to a successful and enjoyable event. In the days following the performance numerous phone calls from audience members flooded in, praising the ensemble and conveying heartfelt appreciation for Jane’s willingness to take over for the vocalist who fell ill.

Though such star power usually warrants multiple gigs, this particular group was only scheduled to perform two nights. The second performance was a ticketed event in Cleveland which completely sold out thanks to the Night is Alive Productions team (“We fill the seats!” Use Night is Alive Productions for your events:

“Who is singing tonight?” is not a question you want to ask in the moments leading up to a gig. But if you do your job well and work with good people who are willing to help you out in a pinch, the rest will follow. In the end, the music itself is what brings people together and builds a loyal following. The music is the reason why we are here.

Read more about Bill’s tribute to Oliver Nelson here:

For more information about Managing Director Kathy Moses Salem and Night is Alive Productions, please visit our web page ( or contact directly via phone.

Article by Kathy Salem, Managing Director, Night is Alive
Revised and Transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Content Editor, Night is Alive

“On the Road with Kathy – ‘How Far to Starbucks?’”

Touring can be fun, though the time spent on the road is often long and exhausting. However, this is mainly how musicians make their living and connect to their audiences in a meaningful way. If a musician has little radio, newspaper, or magazine coverage, the road becomes their new best friend. As Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard sang in their famous 1960s recording, “On the Road Again” is the touring musicians’ theme.

With the long days and emotional demands of touring, it is no wonder that coffee becomes the touring musician’s new best friend and go-to drink. As the saying goes, “Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.” This miracle, life-supplying liquid helps one stay awake and energized, and is a go-to drink for many people. With that in mind, it is not surprising to hear a musician say “I need my coffee” in the morning.

Florida, the “Land of Sunshine,” is a very beautiful but peculiar state. The coasts of the peninsula are densely occupied whereas the population becomes scarcer and more spread out the further inland you travel. Space between towns grows, and farmland, cattle, and horses become more common than coffee shops.

During one particular tour in the middle of Florida, we had stayed overnight at an old hotel. At 9:00 in the morning the group was preparing for departure to the next gig via car (no planes or trains, only automobiles!). Everything was moving ahead nicely and we were doing well on time, when the vocalist swept into the lobby and said, “I need my coffee!” Understanding completely, I pointed her in the direction of the hotel’s free coffee bar on the other end of the lobby, conveniently available to all guests. I even had a full to-go cup in my hands.

“Oh, no,” she responded. “I need my Starbucks.” Now, we were the middle of the state with not much other than the horses and cattle nearby – and I can assure you they didn’t know the first thing about being a barista. “There is a Starbucks just down the road,” she continued, phone in hand. “Could we please go there?”

I reluctantly responded that she should to ask the band leader, who, being a nice guy, agreed to drive the group to Starbucks. Unfortunately, no one thought to ask how far or in what direction the Starbucks was from the hotel, and we had a three and a half hour commute to the next gig.

Where was the Starbucks in relation to our next destination? You guessed it – the opposite direction. How far away was “just down the road”? Twenty-five minutes. The quick coffee run turned into a full-fledged 50-minute detour. I didn’t even get out of the car when we arrived at the Starbucks, glaring at the green mermaid on the store window and fretting about how long the drive was going to be, hoping we didn’t run into detours or other problems on the road.

And that wasn’t the last of it – during the final six days of the tour, the hunt for Starbucks locations relentlessly continued. Luckily, the band was very accommodating, and it became a running joke to begin each morning with the most important question of the day: “how far to Starbucks?”


For more information about the musicians with Night is Alive, please visit our web page ( or contact directly via phone.


Article by Kathy Salem, Managing Director, Night is Alive

Revised and Transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Content Editor, Night is Alive

Sometimes You Have to Improvise

Tours, being comprised of several moving pieces and intricate details, are often booked a year or more in advance. Therefore, things are bound to change after the initial planning stage, and this opens the door for many exciting and unexpected things to happen.

Successful tours require attention to key details: travel, accommodations, transportation, stage plot, and backline, or sound equipment (not the worst place to be at Starbucks when you need a coffee). If one or more of these pieces is not in order, the tour quickly becomes interesting and “fun”. The “fun” begins when details begin to go wrong or disappear – and often times, regardless of careful planning, they do disappear, nowhere to be found except in old faithful email conversations.

One such disappearance occurred on a tour with some very talented musicians, who were able to “improvise” and still perform an incredible show despite the unfortunate absence of a backline.

A backline most often includes sound equipment for the rhythm section, the heartbeat of a jazz ensemble. This particular instance involved an acoustic bass and drum set. These instruments are not travel-friendly due to the fact that they are large, bulky, fragile, and simply too costly to transport due to the lack of support from airlines. Therefore, it was communicated to the venues many weeks ahead of time that a backline would need to be provided for the tour (though sometimes this means the drums are supplied by a reasonably elderly gentlemen who you find dragging pieces from the back of his car shortly before the gig. In that particular case, however, it ended up being one of the finest drum sets made thirty years prior, and the musician had such a wonderful performance that he offered to purchase the set. Sadly, the gentleman was not interested in giving up the drums, though he rarely used them).

With the tour about to begin, the request list had been provided, all venues, accommodations, travel, and other necessities were booked, and no sign of trouble was yet on the horizon. Happily, things did go smoothly at first – but excitement was just around the corner.

In the middle of the tour, en route to the next performance on a highway in central Florida, a call came across the car Bluetooth. It turned out to be the stage manager at the next venue, where the gig was scheduled to begin in a few hours. The call began unassumingly, exchanging pleasantries and a final performance confirmation. But a single question was all it took to set about a whirlwind of excitement that would consume the next three hours: “What kind of bass and drum set will you be bringing?”

Silence filled the car. The reflection in the rearview mirror showed the musicians glancing at each other sidelong, their thoughts clear as spoken words: “Oh great, she forgot to tell them about the backline!” “She is new at this, no wonder something like this happened.” “How are we going to perform without instruments?” The silence was deafening. Pulling the car over to the side of the road at a stop sign, the conversation over Bluetooth continued.

“We all live out of state, where is the backline request I gave to your venue weeks ago?”

“What backline request? I never received one.”

After frantic searching, one thing was made clear: the request never made it to the stage manager.

When these unexpected disappearances occur, there are two options: give up and drive home, which, honestly, is never truly considered; or find a way to solve the problem and continue as planned. In the end, after many phone calls and frenzied searching, an acoustic bass and drum set were secured in time for the performance.

Thinking we were nearly out of the woods, even more excitement ensued when traffic slowed to almost a standstill. Trapped in the sea of vehicles, we had to ask the venue to hold the audience in the lobby so the musicians could have a quick fifteen-minute sound check. Finally, upon arrival at the venue, we mounted the stage to inspect the backline instruments with the short time remaining before the downbeat. The drums were nothing surprising: a used set from a local area high school. But the drums were not what caught our eye. Instead, we all stared at the electric blue acoustic bass that sat perched on stage like a peacock spreading its bright feathers wide to the world.

A truly outstanding group, the musicians performed that night as though no excitement had occurred, a testament to their extraordinary artistry and musical ability. The bright blue bass became a running joke, and we laughed about it during the days that followed. Though that part of the tour did not go exactly as planned, the “fun” we had sticks with us, and the blue bass will always be a memory that musician and myself share and can joke and laugh about every time we get together. In the end, the most important part of any tour are the musicians and the music that is performed, and we will handle any unexpected disappearances with those values at the center. After all, that is what makes this job truly fun.

For more information about the musicians with Night is Alive, please visit our web page or contact directly via phone.


Article by Kathy Salem, Managing Director, Night is Alive

Transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Content Editor, Night is Alive