Women’s History Month – Fierce Female Musicians to Listen to this March

From Beyoncé to Doja Cat, HAIM to Billie Eilish, there are plenty of fierce women streaming the radio waves today, but what about the famous female musicians of the last century? What about the women who paved the way for our current generation? 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating some of the most powerful women in music history. This playlist will make you proud to be a woman, or proud of all the women in your life. 

Bessie Smith – Ain’t Nobody’s Business If Do

As a female singer in the 1920s, blues legend Bessie Smith couldn’t achieve fame simply through her voice, she had to make a reputation through her live performances—dazzling the audience with jokes, sketches and elaborate costumes. Despite these efforts, Smith was still often shunned by the black middle class, who had a negative perception of the blues. 

This song feels like Smith’s response to all that pressure and criticism. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If Do” is a 1920s blues standard with a vaudeville jazz-style arrangement and lyrics that emphasize freedom of choice: There ain’t nothing I can do or nothing I can say / That folks don’t criticize me / But I’m goin’ to do just as I want to anyway.  

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm – Jump Children

Founded in 1937, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm was the first integrated all-women’s band in the U.S. They toured throughout Europe and made a name for themselves as the most prominent all-female group during the Big Band era of the 1940s.

“Jump Children” was one of their most famous songs, and the playful lyrics are surprisingly empowering: When you’re feel’n low and you don’t know what to do, / Just stay in the groove; / Let nothing bother you… I may be small, but baby have no fear, / I can climb a hill without shifting gears. 

Ella Fitzgerald – I Got Rhythm

This playlist would be incomplete without including a track from the First Lady of Song, the Queen of Jazz, the legendary Lady Ella. We all know and love Ella Fitzgerald and for good reason—her timeless, flexible and impeccable voice won her 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. But despite her success, Fitzgerald, like most black women in jazz, dealt with her fair share of prejudice. This song—Fitzgerald’s version of the 1930 jazz standard “I Got Rhythm” showcases her strong spirit that persevered through turmoil.  

Janis Siegel & John Di Martino – Break it to Me Gently

Speaking to the tender pain of losing a lover, this song was originally released in 1961 Brenda Lee. In this new rendition, Grammy-award-winning vocalist Janis Siegel brings a softer, jazzier touch to the rockabilly pop hit. This song can be found in Night is Alive’s latest album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” which combines the best of country and jazz. 

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available right now in our store and if you would like to book one of our lovely musicians for an upcoming party or event, contact us today.

Five Love Songs To Woo Your Sweetheart this Valentine’s Day

When you’re going through a breakup, it’s comforting to belt out the lyrics to contemporary love songs, like Selena Gomez’s Lose You To Love Me and Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved. But when you’re falling in love and trying to woo your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, you want some more upbeat and classical tunes. Here are five jazz songs that’ll create that flirty, fun, and romantic mood to get you and your Valentine dancing, twirling, and kissing all around the room.

WJ3 All-Stars – From This Moment On

Nothing says, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” like this iconic jazz standard. Originally written by Cole Porter in 1950, this song has been recorded again and again by stars including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and The Supremes. And recently, in 2020, world-class artists Willie Jones III and his All-Stars have released a heartwarming rendition that brings the song back to life in a new and inspiring way. WJ3 All-Star’s instrumental rendition will get you and your sweetheart smiling and tapping your toes this Valentine’s Day.

Billie Holiday – Let’s Do It

This playful, flirty and clever classic was a popular song written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It appeared in a few Broadway shows and a Hollywood movie in the 30s. And it’s perfect for impressing a new love interest on a first date because the suggestive comparisons and double entendre of the lyrics (“birds do it, bees do it… let’s do it, let’s fall in love”) will help break the ice and make you and your lover giggle and fall in love.

Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra – Somebody Loves Me

Sweep your sweetheart off of his or her feet with this exciting celebration of love, recorded by a 19-member band based in Los Angeles. Whether you’ve been going steady for a while or you’re in a budding relationship, this song will really get you on your feet, swinging around in each other’s’ arms.

Chet Baker – My Funny Valentine

Slow down the pace with this smooth and signature rendition of the 1937 show tune turned jazz standard. My Funny Valentine has appeared in over 1,300 albums, but Chet Baker, also known as the “prince of cool,” is the only artist to have his version inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. This silky song is perfect for cuddling up together with a glass of champagne and box of chocolates.

Lorca Heart Trio – Here’s That Rainy Day

All good things have to come to an end and this modern and vibrant rendition of the popular song from 1953 will provide a great backdrop for you and your valentine to look into each other’s’ eyes and say that wistful goodbye.

Find the Best Jazz Love Songs at Night is Alive

If you’re looking for new tunes to create that romantic night you’ll never forget, or if you’re looking for valentine’s day gift ideas we can help. Night is Alive is proud to offer two albums that can allow you to begin writing your very own love story. Check WJ3 All-Star’s Lovers and Love Songs and Lorca Heart Trio’s Colors of Jazz. Both are available right now in our store. And if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians for an upcoming party or event, contact us today.

Night Is Alive Featured in Downbeat – February 2020

Night is Alive featured in February 2020 Issue of Downbeat

Kathy Salem, managing director of Night is Alive, opens up about her journey from a small, boutique Jazz agent, to becoming a nation-wide Jazz Powerhouse.

“We started off very small: I was only doing management for jazz musicians,” said Kathy Moses Salem, managing director of Akron, Ohio-based Night Is Alive Productions. “But musicians come to me all the time, asking Can you ‘do this, can you do that?’ We realized that there were bigger needs, and we ought to be 360-degrees.”

That’s how Salem’s five-person company expanded from focusing on artist management to a mind-boggling list of services. Night Is Alive’s purview includes audience research, social media curation, digital and physical media design, advertising and promotion, and recording and production for the company’s new eponymous record label.

But Salem, at 75, is a newcomer to most of these aspects of the music business. And at first, she didn’t even plan on working as an artist manager. Salem’s background includes advertising at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and lobbying in Washington, D.C. But after her husband passed away in 2004, she decided to channel her energy into a lifelong love of music.

You can read the full article here!

Night is Alive @ Jazz Congress at Lincoln Center, New York

Night is Alive at Jazz Congress 2020 - Lincoln Center New York City

We’ve been having an amazing time at the 2020 Jazz Congress, hosted at the Lincoln Center, here in New York City. We’ve had the chance to listen and speak to so many gifted artists, teachers, mentors, and musicians. What can we say, it feels good to be inspired and to be surrounded by your peers. If you’re here with us, let us know! You can alwaaays drop us a line on our instagram at www.instagram.com/night_is_alive

Five Ways to Stay Calm and Happy This Holiday Season

The holiday season emphasizes peace, love, and joy, but stress and anxiety can sneak uninvited among the celebrations with our families and loved ones. With political tensions, overcrowded terminals, family disputes, gift-giving pressures, and expectations for perfection, we can easily lose sight of what the holidays should be about. To help set positive intentions this season, here is a list of five simple things you can do to keep yourself calm and happy through the busy weeks ahead.

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Are You A True Jazz Lover? (QUIZ)

HEY JAZZ LOVER, HERE'S SOME JAZZ YOU MIGHT LOVE!

LOVERS AND LOVE SONGS

  1. I’ve Never Been In Love Before – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  2. First Time I Saw Your Face – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  3. I’m An Old Cow Hand – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  4. Gee Baby Aint I Good To You- 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  5. From This Moment On – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  6. Here’s That Rainy Day – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  7. Cry Me A River – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30
  8. Jitterbug Waltz – 30Secs WJ3 All_Stars Buy Track 0:30

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Lovers and Love Songs is a distinguished collaboration written and performed by several of the jazz industry’s top musicians. This collection of heartwarming melodies is the soundtrack to a modern-age love story that swept the web prior to the album’s release. Though you may have forgotten about these iconic tunes before now, they have been brought back to life in a new and inspiring way by Willie Jones III and his All-Stars. Join these world-class artists on a romantic journey through the ages and discover your own personal love story, the music a backdrop to your imagination.
 
After selling out two concerts in Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, FL, Ms. Salem suggested bandleader Willie Jones III and his All-Stars take their performances to the next level and create a studio recording. The group, made of big-name bandleaders in their own right, so thoroughly enjoyed playing together that they agreed, thus leading to the birth of Lovers and Love Songs.

Along with Willie Jones III (drums), the album features Terell Stafford (trumpet), Ralph Moore (tenor saxophone), Donald Vega (piano), Steve Davis (trombone), and Gerald Cannon (bass).

Donny Hathaway: Smooth Command

Donny Hathaway’s life was tragically short, but in his 33 years on earth, he was able to leave a sound and feel to his music that is still revered today.  Like many great musicians, Hathaway got his music start in the church. Raised in St Louis and Chicago, he began singing in the choir and studying piano at a very young age.  He would later attend Howard University to further his jazz studies. 

 Hathaway began working professionally in the music business as a producer, arranger, and a session musician in the early days.  He was a talented pianist and worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jerry Butler, and the Staple Singers before he started his singing career.  Hathaway’s experience working with such talented people set him up for his own success. Hathaway released his first studio album in 1970 titled “Everything Is Everything.”  The album received excellent reviews and put Hathaway in the center of the music scene.  

Hathaway had a smooth, gospel-inspired voice.   His strong command of the music resonated with audiences, and he gained in popularity after the release of his first album.  Two years later he would begin a collaboration that would last for a decade with Roberta Flack. The two recorded many times together and released their first duet album in 1972 titled “Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway.”  The album was a smash hit and was certified Gold. Another collaboration in 1978 titled, “The Closer I Get to You” would go on to be a number one track. Their last compilation was in 1980 with the release of “Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway” which was also certified Gold. 

The tragedy of Hathaway’s story is the difficulty he had working through his mental illness.  He was an incredible musician who had to wrestle with the strain of depression. His depression was enough to require hospitalization for extended periods during his life.  Hathaway ended his own life in 1979. He was only 33 years old. Donny Hathaway’s music still lives on and continues to influence R&B and jazz music today. 

2007 Chevy Express: The Symbol of a Touring Musician.

A musicians’ life is one of a road warrior. The time it takes to get from show to show
can be a lot more than some musicians bargain for. Traveling from gig to gig
entertaining fans is amazing, but it comes at a price. The price is the travel. Finding the
headspace in all that travel to create and write new music can be daunting. Nashville
musician Ben Danaher seems to have found a formula for success. Behind the wheel
of his 2007 Chevy Express, with over 250,000 miles on it, Ben travels the states
playing his music and using the time on the road to create the songs he sings.

Originally from Huffman, Texas, Ben comes from a musical family and grew up knowing
the road. The open road creates the calm and focus that can bring a great song to life.
For Ben, the 2007 Chevy Express is the best of all worlds. The van is a way to get form
gig to gig, a place to work on music, and can double as a make-shift hotel room when
travel does not allow the luxury. Danaher’s says that the van has taken on a life and
persona of its own. The van has been feature in Danaher’s press, music videos and
social media posts. Having successfully toured in the Chevy for so long, fans recognize
it at shows and pay homage to the van that moves the man.

Drawing on the influences of legendary songwriter/musicians like Guy Clark, Rodney
Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt, Danaher came to the music scene as a songwriter in
his home state of Texas before pulling stakes and moving north to Nashville,
Tennessee. Danaher released his debut album “Still Feel Lucky” in September 2018 to
critical acclaim. “Still Feel Lucky” is being described as a soulful, heartfelt and
memorable country rock album. This is Danaher’s roots and it comes out clearly in the
well constructed songs. Danaher has been featured in Rolling Stone and continues to
sell out shows around the nation.

The unsung heroes of the music world are the thousands of musicians and vans that
are packed up, beat down, and brave the open road to pursue the dream. Ben Danaher
shows no signs of wear or tear but admittedly the van does have a few blemishes. Visit
www.bendanaher.com to see tour dates and locations and Ben’s newest videos.

Jazz Up Your Christmas

Fall is here and you know what that means—Christmas is coming soon.

Now if you love the holiday, that’s great! Why? Because you’ll probably enjoy it when your favorite stores start blasting the Christmas carols you love in November. Oh yes. For you, this definitely is the most wonderful time of the year. As for all of the retail workers out there, we wish you the best of luck since you might have to listen to all of that holiday cheer for two months straight! Hang in there, and thanks in advance for your service.

Whether you love them or hate them, Christmas songs aren’t going away any time soon. That’s been made evident by folks who listen to their holiday playlists year round. (We all know a couple of folks who do.)

According to Wikipedia, Christmas music originated during the 4th century in Rome. By the 13th century, under the influence of Francis of Assisi, the tradition of popular Christmas songs in regional native languages developed. Christmas carols in the English language first appeared in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, an English chaplain, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’ who would travel from house to house. The 16th century gave birth to a few Christmas carols that we still sing today. Songs like “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”, and “O Christmas Tree”.

The 1930s gave us a stream of non-religious Christmas songs. They included christmas songs for children like “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, as well as sentimental ballads such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “White Christmas” which remains the best-selling single of all time as of 2018.

For instance, Night is Alive is offering three unique flavors of christmas music. With “A Very Saxy Christmas”, your guests can enjoy the smooth sounds of saxophonist, Jeff Rupert and a guest vocalist. You can get the season in full swing with “Christmas Jazz” from dynamic jazz drummer, Willie Jones III and his WJ3 All-Stars. Or jazz pianist and Grammy Award-winning arranger, Bill Cunliffe can tickle the ivories during “That Time of the Year” for you and your guests. These are just a few examples of performers who are available for your holiday gatherings. Visit Gig Monster to book Night is Alive artists or other independent performers for Christmas.