Friday Feature Janis Siegel #2

What are your plans this weekend? Hopefully it includes getting to know the remarkably talented Janis Siegel! 

You would probably recognize Siegel’s silky voice from the swinging hits of The Manhattan Transfer, like “Boy From New York City” and “Operator,” but did you know that she also has a widely successful solo career and a reputation as a vocal arranger?

Siegel wrote five of the charts for The Manhattan Transfer’s acclaimed masterwork, “Vocalese” and seven charts for the group’s Grammy-winning album “Brasil.” And in 1980, Siegel won a Grammy for her arrangement of “Birdland”! All of this creative work led to Siegel receiving an honorary doctorate from the Berklee School of Music in 1993 and induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. 

But Siegel didn’t stop there! She also branched out on her own to release multiple solo albums, including “An Experiment in White” and “At Home,” which earned her a Grammy nomination in 1987 for the Best Female Jazz Vocal. And over the years, Siegel has been adventurous in her collaborations with a diverse array of musicians, such as jazz pianist Fred Hersch, Turkish modern classical composer Ilhan Mimaroglu and Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana. 

Now, Night is Alive is proud to release Janis Siegel’s latest genre-bending collaboration with pianist John di Martino, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and saxophonist Harry Allen. “Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is an album that fuses country western and jazz music to create a delightful twist on many classics, like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Whether you turn on this album during a backyard barbeque, dinner party with friends or a relaxed evening alone on the front porch, these tunes will imbue your life with a soothing, yet energetic sweetness. 

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available at https://nightisalive.com/portfolio/cryin-in-my-whiskey/

and all major online music platforms. 

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We were lucky enough to sit down with this accomplished musician and ask her a few questions about her career. If you’re an aspiring musician, artist or performer, you’ll definitely want to read what Siegel has to say. 

  • Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for young musicians?
    • LISTEN. Learn the business aspect of music, work every day on something related to your craft and be persistent. 
  • What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
    • Getting back to travel and a vibrant work schedule.
  • What is your favorite tune from “Cryin’ In My Whiskey”?
    • This week, it is “Where Do I Put His Memory.”

And what about you? What are you looking forward to doing most in the coming months? Comment below!

Friday Feature Janis Siegel #1

Happy Friday! 🥳  Kick back and relax this weekend by reading our Friday Feature about the lovely Grammy-award-winning vocalist Janis Siegel. 

Siegel’s smooth and unmistakable voice can be heard on Night is Alive’s brand new album “Cryin’ In My Whiskey,” which is a unique cross-genre collaboration that brings together the very best of country western and jazz music. Featuring modern renditions of classics like Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and “I Fall to Pieces,” this album is a perfect way to welcome the sunny weather and enjoy the many social gatherings to come! You won’t want to miss it! 

“Cryin’ In My Whiskey” is available at https://nightisalive.com/portfolio/cryin-in-my-whiskey/ and all major online music platforms. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Siegel was exposed to the music business at a young age, singing with an all-girl pop trio and releasing two singles by the time she was 12! Siegel lived and breathed pop, country and folk music, that is until 1975 when she joined the Manhattan Transfer and was introduced to swing, which opened her eyes to more musical possibilities. The Manhattan Transfer went on to explore many different genres during their 35-year-long career, including a cappella, vocalese, standards, Brazilian jazz, R&B and pop. And in 1981, The Manhattan Transfer was also the first group ever to win Grammy Awards in both Pop and Jazz categories in the same year! 

Night Is Alive was lucky enough to sit down with this world-famous, genre-blending star and ask her a few questions about her taste in music:

  • Besides jazz, what genres of music do you like to listen to?
    • I listen to everything: classical, modern classical, opera, world music, country, bluegrass, alternative, blues, Yiddish music, funk, pop, R&B and gospel. What did I miss… ? I guess disco and rap… I do like some rap, too! 
  • Who are some other musicians that inspire you?
    • John Coltrane, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Ella Fitzgerald
  • What is your favorite tune from “Cryin’ In My Whiskey”?
    • This week it is “Where Do I Put His Memory.” (Originally released by Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1975)

Wow, Siegel has quite an eclectic taste in music! How about you?

What are your favorite genres and musicians? Comment below! 

Spring is Here! – Country Jazz Tunes to Celebrate Daylight Saving Time

With spring creeping up on us, you may be wondering, when exactly is daylight savings time? When do the clocks change? Well, this year, your clocks will move forward one hour on Sunday, March 14th at 2am. So, what are you going to do with that extra hour of sunlight? How about kicking back with some country jazz tunes while you watch the sunset! You can nod your head to the music while you watch the darkness of winter dissipate and the brightness of the warmer months approach.

Jimmie Rodgers & Louis Armstrong – Yodel No. 9

You may not be very familiar with country jazz music, but actually the two genres have a long history of intermingling that dates back to 1929 with this collaboration between Louis Armstrong and Jimmie Rodgers (aka the “Father of Country Music”). The narrative lyrics about a man standing on the corner of Beale and Main in Memphis combined with yodeling and Armstrong’s signature trumpeting creates a song that will get you looking forward to taking long walks outside in the sun.

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico –  Are You Alright?

After listening to that 1929 throwback, it’s time for something a bit more modern. This brand new 2021 rendition of “Are You Alright?” features the Grammy-award-winning vocalist Janis Siegel, the NYC jazz pianist John Di Martino and the double bassist Lonnie Plaxico. First written in 2007 by Lucinda Williams, “Are You Alright?” is a song that really speaks to our current collective moment. As Siegel points out, “This tune seems like an anthem for the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the question we are all asking each other over and over again.”

Ray Charles – You Don’t Know Me

When you think of Ray Charles, you probably think of rhythm and blues, soul and jazz, but Charles was also a country star inspired by the music of the small southern town in which he grew up. In his widely successful 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country Music, Charles did jazzy renditions of the most famous country songs in history. “You Don’t Know Me,” one of the songs on the album, reached the #2 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With its evocative, honest and heart wrenching lyrics, originally written by Cindy Walker in 1955, “You Don’t Know Me” is perfect for a moment of relaxation and contemplation on your back patio or front porch during that luminous late afternoon golden hour. 

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue

This is another song from the new 2021 album, Cryin’ in My Whiskey. This rendition retells and spices up Crystal Gayle’s 1977 version while still preserving the essence of the original. Ending with the lively clarinet of Aaron Heick, this tune will make you want to swing, party and jump for joy that spring is finally here!

If you’re ready to welcome the spring with some head-nodding country jazz, we can help. Night is Alive is proud to release the album Cryin’ in My Whiskey, which includes nine tracks of familiar country favorites such as Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and “I Fall to Pieces,” each with a jazz twist. The album is 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.

6 Tunes to Celebrate International Jazz Day

What better way to come together as a global community during a pandemic than to celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30th? Founded in 2011 by the United Nations, this day aims “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” And this year, with many of the events being streamed online, you can enjoy all the fun and learning that this special day has to offer from the comfort of your home. To gear up for the day, we’ve collected a variety of jazz classics and modern renditions that showcase the history and diversity of jazz.

Louis Armstrong – I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby

We’ve all heard of Louis Armstrong before—the widely influential jazz musician from New Orleans who’s most famous for “It’s A Wonderful World”—but have you ever listened to his first crossover hit from 1929? Featuring Armstrong on muted trumpet, as a vocalist and on open trumpet, this song really showcases the jazz legend’s multitude of talents. 

Miles Davis – “Walkin’”

At the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954, Davis’s performance of “Walkin” announced a new subgenre of jazz—hard bob—to the world. Incorporating influences from rhythm and blues and gospel, hard pop has a rollicking, rhythmic feeling that offers an excellent backdrop for you to get ready for International Jazz Day. Turn on this song while you grab yourself a drink and queue up your virtual feast of jazz music from around the world.

Eliane Elias – So Nice (Samba de Verao)

Blending her Brazilian roots, her sensuous voice and her instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills, Elias creates a style that is uniquely hers. Her 2004 rendition of this bossa nova and jazz standard, originally composed by Marcos Valle, showcases her soft rhythms and silky, sultry vocals. This song will make you want to wiggle your hips ever so slightly to the beat.

Lwanda Gogwana – Ucing’ Uyandazi

Born in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, Gogwana is a trumpeter and composer who fuses traditional Xhosa music with jazz harmonies and contemporary musical elements. This song comes from his 2016 album, Uhadi Synth, which was inspired by the Uhadi musical bow, a traditional Xhosa instrument, and the electronic synthesizer.

Janis Siegal, John di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico – Whenever You Come Around

Siegal, di Martino and Plaxico morph this country song into a funky, soulful version that evokes the style of Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Originally produced by A Vince Gill in 1994, “Whenever You Come Around” has direct message of love, which is something we could all use a bit more of in today’s day and age.

Lorca Hart Trio – Here’s That Rainy Day

Released in 2020 by The Lorca Hart Trio featuring Ralph Moore, this new rendition of the jazz standard creates a smooth, relaxed feeling that’ll help you wind down after the day’s excitement.

If those last two songs—Whenever You Come Around and Here’s That Rainy Day—caught your fancy, then check out the other songs on those albums! Cryin’ in My Whiskey and Colors of Jazz are both are available right now in our store.

Friday Feature with Drummer Tim Horner

Piano would be my next choice and I wish it had been my first, but I do absolutely love playing drums. After piano, I wish I played my violin (which I already play) better!

I honestly can’t say I have that one inspiration but so many great classical and jazz composers for me are very inspirational, from Ravel and Bartok to Duke and Gil Evans. As far as Drummers go, pick one of the greats and they inspire me. Freddie Hubbard inspires me, Pharoh Sanders inspires me, Bill Cunliffe and Martin Wind inspire me. I love most music and the musicians that play it well.

I’m not sure I have a great answer for this one as I’m on the 14th Floor in a 2 bedroom apartment with no terrace. It’s been quite tough, but I guess I’ve been trying to reflect on my life, my past, my future, what am I going to do if our industry doesn’t return, how to make a living. I’ve written a little bit of music and have been practicing some everyday but I’ll be honest, some of that has been tough. It’s easy to sit and play but much of the pure enjoyment of music for me has always been the free association with other musicians, ensemble playing, I really love and miss that!!!

Right now, wow anywhere!!!! Right when the lockdown hit, I was supposed to be going to Pakistan and Lebanon for the State Dept playing concerts and teaching. It’s safe to say I was really looking forward to that.

I wouldn’t mind having a small dog right now, but one that’s been trained, no training for me. I’ve had cats all my life, I’m allergic to them although I love them. If I had a bigger place with a backyard an Elephant or Water Buffalo would be nice lol.

Tim Horner,  and The Bill Cunliffe Trio can be heard on Night is Alive’s holiday album “Christmas in the Dog House”, available att https://nightisalive.com/shop/ and all major online music platforms.

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!

“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” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYl2HZ9_Zvs&list=RDyYl2HZ9_Zvs&start_radio=1&t=0) 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: http://nightisalive.com/).

“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: https://billcunliffe.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/a-tribute-to-oliver-nelson-and-%E2%80%9Cthe-blues-and-the-abstract-truth/)

For more information about Managing Director Kathy Moses Salem and Night is Alive Productions, please visit our web page (http://nightisalive.com/) 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