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.

What is a jazz standard? What is a fake book? And what are some examples of jazz standards?

You’ve probably heard the term thrown around before in phrases like, “a modern rendition of the jazz standard…” but what exactly is a jazz standard? 

As the name implies, a jazz standard is a composition that has established widespread popularity among musicians and listeners. There is no concrete list of jazz standards, and they fluctuate with time, but songs that appear in fake books are usually considered standards. 

Now you may be wondering, what is a fake book? Well, a fake book is a collected volume of lead sheets, which are musical notations that specify the crucial components of a famous song.  The melody, lyrics and harmony are marked on a lead sheet, but the chord voicings, voice leadings, and bass lines are not described, thus giving the musician or arranger freedom to improvise. Collections of lead sheets are called fake books because skilled musicians can “fake it” and perform the song decently with only having the rough outline, as opposed to having the full score, which writes out every note to be played and all the intricacies of the song.

Not all jazz standards were written by jazz composers—many were originally Broadway show tunes, Tin Pan Alley songs and even songs from Hollywood musicals. In Europe, fake books may also include traditional folk songs and ethnic music. But, even if a song has non-jazz origins, it can only become a jazz standard when it is played widely among jazz musicians. 

By now you’re probably curious to learn which jazz standards are the most well-known. Well, lucky for you we made a short list below:

Juan Tizol & Duke Ellington – Caravan

First performed by Duke Ellington in 1936, this tune quickly gained popularity for its “exotic” sound, and has since been used in many films, such as Ocean’s Eleven. It is considered one of the most covered songs of all time, with over 500 uses! 

W.C. Handy – St. Louis Blues

Published in 1914, this is an example of a song with origins in another genre—blues—that has become a fundamental part of the jazz repertoire. Artists including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Bessie Smith, Glenn Miller, and Guy Lombardo have all recorded a version of this tune, which has been nicknamed, “the jazzman’s Hamlet.” 

Hoagy Carmichael – Stardust

Part of the Great American Songbook, this tune was inspired by the ending of one of Hoagy Carmichael’s love affairs, and since its publication in 1929, it has been recorded 1,500 times! My consolation is in the stardust of a song… 

Joseph Kosma – Autumn Leaves

This 1945 tune, with the original lyrics written in French, is particularly popular among beginning musicians because it offers a nice way to become acquainted with jazz harmony.   

You can find modern recordings of iconic jazz standards in our album, Lovers & Love Songs, which features “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “I’m an Old Cowhand,” and “From This Moment On.” Lovers & Love Songs is available in our store and on all major music platforms! 

What are jazz songs usually about?

To answer this question, we must think about why we listen to music in the first place. Why do we pop in earbuds and jam to our favorite tune during our commute to work? Why do we play music at parties, weddings, funerals, and sports games? Why do we sing along to the radio?

Well, it’s because music is a powerful experience that has been a part of our shared human culture since prehistoric times. As you know, when you listen to a particularly satisfying song, your body undergoes a visceral reaction—you become giddy, you feel chills, or maybe you’re even moved to tears. There’s something magical and transcendent about how music can tap into a deeper part of ourselves. 

Jazz, like all music, expresses ideas and emotions that may be difficult to articulate through a normal conversation. We also must remember that jazz is a fundamentally diverse and wide-ranging genre, borrowing elements from other styles, like swing, bebop, blues, and hard bop, so there are not exactly strict distinctions when it comes to defining the subject material of jazz. Nonetheless, there are some recurring themes in jazz music that are best explained with examples. Check out the song list below to learn more about the themes of jazz!

The WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been in Love Before

Probably the most obvious theme that first comes to mind when you think of jazz is love. With hits like John Coltrane’s “My One And Only Love,” Johnny Hartman’s “How Sweet It Is to Be in Love” and Nina Simone’s “I Love My Baby,” jazz definitely pays homage to the romantic passion that overcomes us all from time to time. 

Published in 1950, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” is a great example of a jazz love song. It first appeared as a duet in the musical Guys and Dolls, sung by the main characters Sky Masterson and Sister Sarah Brown when they spontaneously realized that they had fallen in love. Now all at once it’s you, it’s you evermore… 

Since that first showing, the song has become a jazz standard, recorded by many artists including Shirley Bassey, Bing Crosby, and Doris Day. And most recently, the classic has been recorded by the WJ3 All Stars, offering a heartwarming, modern rendition that’ll sweep you off your feet on a romantic journey through the ages. 

Billie Holiday – Good Morning Heartache 

Unfortunately, lots of jazz songs about love means that there will also be lots of songs about heartbreak. It is utterly devastating when that all-consuming love turns sour and what better way to lament than through music, like Billie Holiday’s 1946 song, “Good Morning Heartache”  I’ve got those Monday blues straight through Sunday blues… 

Duke Ellington – Black, Brown, and Beige

Since jazz was conceived by a fusion of traditional African music, brought to the country by enslaved peoples, and “New World” ideas of creative expression found in the cultural melting pot of Caribbean, French and Spanish cultures in New Orleans, it comes as no surprise that the genre often celebrates diversity. 

This extended jazz work, written in 1943, is composed of three movements that Ellington said offer, “a parallel to the history of the Negro in America.” The piece begins with a work song and spirituals, which represent the religious songs that black enslaved people sung, then it moves into more West Indian influences, a celebration of Emancipation and the conception of the blues. Lastly, the piece depicts the African Americans of the 1920s, 30s and World War II. 

The Lorca Hart Trio – Introspection on the 401

Jazz songs don’t always have lyrics and instrumental tunes can provide a listener with a wordless moment of introspection. As we’ve discussed, music often stirs up emotions and thoughts, thus providing an excellent backdrop to do some thinking. This new song from The Lorca Hart Trio creates just the right ambience to do some self-reflection as you drive down the road to work.  

If you’re interested in listening to more jazz songs, and uncovering more themes and meanings, I would recommend our albums, Lovers & Love Songs, and Colors of Jazz, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms! 

What fruits and vegetables are harvested in September?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a record number of Americans planting a vegetable garden for the first time. I guess the idea was, if you’re stuck at home and trying to avoid public places, like grocery stores, why not just grow your own food? There’s also nothing more peaceful, energizing, and therapeutic than planting a seed in the dirt, and waiting for new life to take root and literally emerge from the soil. 

So, now, after all your patience and hard work, comes the fun part: harvest time. There are so many delicious fruits and veggies in season for September, you’ll be smiling and singing as you stroll through your garden, or the local farmer’s market, picking out produce for a scrumptious meal with family and friends. And since no meal is truly complete without the perfect ambience, we put together this playlist of songs to match some of our favorite seasonal September produce!   

Carrots – Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise by Abbey Lincoln

With their slightly sweet flavor and rich levels of vitamin A, carrots are a well-loved and versatile root vegetable that can be used in a variety of fan-favorite dishes, like chicken noodle soup, ginger-carrot cake, and Shepherd’s Pie. Similarly, Abbey Lincoln, a singer-songwriter from Chicago with a career spanning from the late 50s to the early 2000s, also has an extremely versatile voice that excels in not only mainstream jazz but also in more alternative, avant-garde music. 

Broccoli – Sister Sadie by Horace Silver

The thick stalks and round green florets of broccoli have a grassy, mildly bitter, and earthy flavor, reminiscent of the hard bop music of Horace Silver, who was hailed by the New York Times as the master of earthy jazz. During the 1950s, when the soft sounds of cool jazz were soaring the airwaves, Silver came out with tunes that brought jazz back to its basics, with a focus on simple rhythms, blues, and gospel. 

So, why not go back to the basics this September with a tasty broccoli dish like garlic parmesan roasted broccoli or a broccoli bacon salad. 

Blueberries – Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico

Contrary to what you may think, blueberries pack a punch—yes, they’re small, juicy, and sweet, but they do also have a bit of a sour, acidic bite to them, especially if they’re not completely ripe. In the same way, this new, jazzed-up rendition of Crystal Gayle’s 1977 slow, crooning tune has a surprising kick at the end that you won’t want to miss.  

Plums – Duke and Billy by Lorca Hart Trio

These juicy and tart stone fruits can be eaten fresh, made into jam, fermented into wine, or even added to desserts and salads. They’re full of vitamin C, which is great for your eyes, and they can have red, purple, green, yellow, or orange skin. The most common color, and probably the most memorable, however, is the deep purple hue of the plum, which reminds me of Lorca Hart Trio’s new song “Duke and Billy.” This tune represents a pleasant conversation between Duke Ellington and Bill Stahan and signifies the rich and royal color purple. 

If you’re looking for more jazz tunes to hum along to while you harvest September produce and cook up some farm fresh meals, check out our albums Cryin’ in My Whiskey and Colors of Jazz, which are both available in our store and on all major music platforms.  

What songs should you play at a pool party?

With heatwaves quite literally roasting the western U.S. and with temperatures rising
everywhere, it’s turning out to be one hot summer! So why not grab your pals and throw a pool
party? All you’ll need are some floaties, sunglasses, SPF and beer.

Oh wait, you’re also going to
need some rockin’ tunes to jam while you soak up those rays and dip into the cool water. But
don’t worry, we got you covered with this list of awesome summer songs!


Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues


Embodying the teenage frustration, desire and rebellious nature of the 1950s and 1960s, Eddi
Cochran’s hit song “Summertime Blues” is perfect to jam while playing hooky from work or
while waiting to get off work to go party with your friends! The song is about a teenager who
resents his job because he has no time to take his girlfriend out on a date. Well I’m gonna raise a
fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler about workin’ all summer just to try an’earn a dollar…

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A


The Beach Boys, who first began as a garage band, have come to represent summertime
everywhere with their California sound and their lyrics about cars, romance and youth. “Surfin’
U.S.A.” was their first national hit in 1963, which set off a string of top-ten singles.


Dolly Parton – Sweet Summer Lovin’


This lesser-known Dolly song, released in 1979, has a dreamy quality to it that makes it great for
a lazy day lounging by the pool. Relax and sip on a cool beverage or lick up a yummy popsicle
while you let your mind wander into the lovely trance of this tune. By a stream in the country,
running barefoot and feeling free…


Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Whenever You Come Around


Let’s face it—pool parties are also about flirting and splashing around with your summer fling.
That’s why every pool party needs at least one sweet, direct and unabashed love song.
Originally co-written and recorded by Vince Gill in 1994, this tune was covered by Willie
Nelson in 2014, and now, in 2021, we’re lucky enough to have a brand new, jazzy rendition
featured on the album, Cryin’ In My Whiskey. This soulful, funky version will be sure to put the
hearts in your eyes while you let yourself get swept away by the whirlwind of your summertime
romance.


Kenny Chesney – Summertime


There really is nothing like summertime. If you’re like me and you live in the north, you spend
all winter waiting around excitedly for that first warm evening when you can kick off your shoes
just like when you were a kid and listen for the sound of the ice cream truck. Kenny Chesney’s

2006 song captures this simple, yet precise sentiment. Temperature says ninety-three… but that
swimmin’ hole, it’s nice and cold…
If you’re looking for more summer songs to play at your pool party, check out the country jazz
album, Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms.
And if you’d like one of our musicians to play at your event, please give us a call today.

4 Country Jazz Tunes to Celebrate National Beer Day

We all know about Oktoberfest in Germany, but did you know that the U.S. celebrates National Beer Day on April 7th? It commemorates the day in 1933 that the prohibition on selling beer was lifted. “I think this would be a good time for a beer,” President Roosevelt famously said upon signing the legislation.

A man in Virginia named Justin Smith first unofficially celebrated Beer Day in 2009 and since then it has gained official recognition by the state of Virginia and is toasted to by brew aficionados all over the country. 

Who wants to miss out on an excuse to drink and be merry? This Wednesday, go to the brewery or beer store nearest to you and pick up a growler of your favorite beer—whether that be an IPA, ale, lager or pilsner—and kick back with some friends in the backyard while listening to these folksy jazz tunes! 

Ray Charles – Oh, Lonesome Me

Partly inspired by his small southern hometown, Charles came out with the album Modern Sounds in Country Music in 1962, which was a groundbreaking fusion of genres. It was so successful that Charles came out with a second volume of country jazz music, from which comes this song, “Oh, Lonesome Me.” 

First written and recorded in 1957, this song is a fun, lighthearted lament of unrequited love that’ll pair well with a fruity, full-bodied amber ale! 

Willie Nelson – Georgia On My Mind

From his 1978 album, Stardust, comes this brilliant reinvention of the popular Ray Charles song, “Georgia On My Mind.” Nelson’s rendition features harmonica solos, which really adds that country flavor. Grab a piney IPA and enjoy that hop flavor while you get lost in Nelson’s weather-beaten voice. 

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – There’ll Be Some Changes Made

In 1990, Chet Atkins, also known as “Mr. Guitar” and “The Country Gentleman,” joined forces with Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler to create the Grammy-award-winning album Neck and Neck. From this album comes the song “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” which is a country version of the jazz standard originally published in 1921. Listen to this friendly tune while drinking a classic long neck lager!

Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – He Stopped Loving Her Today

Named in several surveys as the greatest country song of all time, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was released in 1980 by George Jones. When vocalist Janis Siegel first heard the song, she was struck—the story simply grabbed her and inspired her to collaborate with John Di Martino and Lonnie Plaxico on this new jazzy rendition, featured in their 2021 album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” The ambiguous lyrics and Siegel’s lovely voice make it a perfect song to pair with a smooth, golden pilsner!

If you’re looking for some more country jazz tunes to create the best beer-drinking ambience, look no further. “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” the newest release from Night Is Alive, features many country classics, like “Always On My Mind,” “Break it to Me Gently” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” all with a funky jazz twist. “There’s nothing out there like this,” said Kathy Salem, the Producer and Managing Director. “I wanted this music to be accessible by all.”

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available in our store right now and on all major music platforms! 

5 Quarantine Questions with Jeff Rupert

Everything from Frank Sinatra to Harold Mabern.

Well, my hobby is yachting, but that’s on hold for a bit. I’ve just been practicing, writing new music for an upcoming album, and reading a lot.

I just smoked ribs for the family today. I enjoy cooking quite a bit. I like cooking a rib roast, and my boys love grilled lamb, and a creamed spinach dish. I recently started making filet au poivre that the family likes.

The chance to be a credit to society.

Billy Strayhorn, or my Dad.

Jeff Rupert has a new album, The Ripple, with fellow saxophone legend, George Garzone, available now!