What are some heartfelt Christmas gift ideas?

With all these global shipping delays, and with Christmas right around the corner, you might be struggling to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. To prevent you from seeming like the Grinch, or from having to put coal in the stockings of all your friends, relatives, and coworkers, we’ve come up with some unique gift ideas that won’t require any shipping at all! Don’t believe me, read for yourself:

Mason Jar Alcohol Infusion Kit 

You’ve probably seen these cute jars, filled with dried fruits, spices on Etsy, but did it ever occur to you that you could make one yourself? After all, it is just a mason jar full of herbs and dried fruit—you can buy all those items at your local health food store. All you need is a recipe and some creativity! 

Put dried cranberries, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and brown sugar into a mason jar and ta da, you just made a hot toddy spirit infusion kit! You might want to add that special touch with a red ribbon around the top, and maybe even a handwritten label that reads, Just add whiskey!

Digital Jazz Album 

No one really uses CDs anymore, so why not gift those music lovers in your life a new digital Christmas album that is sure to knock their socks off? Not to mention, you certainly won’t have to worry about any shipping fees or delays. Just print off a picture of the album and put it in an envelope, or if you really want to be cheeky, wrap it in inside a box with a bunch of tissue paper! And maybe if you’re giving this gift to a significant other, you could invite he or she to slow dance with you to one of the songs—what’s more romantic than that?

You’re in luck because we have quite a few digital albums available in our store right now. Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be offers fresh, new and heartwarming holiday songs, along with the stellar vocals of Andromeda Turre; Lorca Hart Trio’s Colors of Jazz takes you on a whirlwind adventure through the rainbow, exploring the vibrancy of contemporary jazz; WJ3 All-Stars’ Lovers and Love Songs sweeps you away on a romantic journey through the ages; and Cryin’ In My Whiskey, featuring Janis Siegel and John Di Martino, is the perfect mix of jazz standards and country classics! You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

Personalized Coupons

Grab some card stock, markers, and stickers and make some adorable, personalized coupons that show your loved ones that you really care. Some ideas for coupons: Good for one free hug, one free cuddle, back massage, ice cream date… The options are endless! Just get creative. Oh, and if you really want to have some fun with it, you could even put expiration dates on the coupons—just be ready to redeem them all when the time comes!

Concert Tickets 

Experiences can be more valuable than any tangible object, so, this holiday season, gift your friends, family, and coworkers with an early Christmas gift: tickets to the album concert for Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be

On Friday, December 17th at 8pm, Akron will be hosting some of the best musicians in New York City on the Knight Stage at the Civic Center. You and your loved ones won’t want to miss this joyful celebration of Christmas, Hannukah and jazz! To purchase tickets, please see the link below:

https://www.akroncivic.com/shows/370

Songs for a Walk in the Fall Leaves

With the autumn leaves beginning to change colors, you’re probably ready to grab a pumpkin spice latte, put your earbuds in and go for a nice long walk in the park. Bask in the rich golds, bronzes, saffron, oranges, yellows, and reds. But before you go, make sure to read this guide to all the fall leaves and trees, complete with some great song recommendations for fall! 

Red – Red Roses For A Blue Lady by Wayne Newton

During your walk, you may be wondering, what trees turn red in the fall? Well, as the weather cools, the wine-colored leaves of the classic red maple and red oak become richer in tone. In addition, flowering dogwood, hornbeam, sourwood, and winged sumac also take on the deep hues of crimson, maroon, and cherry. And what pairs better with red than roses? This easy listening tune from 1965 will help you to unwind, be in the present moment and let all your daily worries fall away, just like the rusty red leaves.  

Purple – Purple Rain (Blues Cover) by Miche Braden

We often forget about the purple foliage, which is less common than the other colors of fall, but no less beautiful, just like this blues rendition of Prince’s famous pop song. Revel in the breathtaking violets, plums and burgundies of sweet gum, smoke trees, eastern ninebark and oakleaf hydrangea while you listen to this heartbreakingly beautiful song. I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain…

Orange – Autumn in New York by Billie Holiday

As your strolling, you may wonder, what exactly causes leaves to change color in the autumn? Well, you may remember learning about chlorophyll in high school or college biology class—the green pigment in a leaf that absorbs sunlight and transforms carbon dioxide and water to sugars and starch, aka foods that allow the tree to grow. But in addition to chlorophyll, there are also yellow and orange pigments, carotenes ad xanthophyll, that are masked by the immense amounts of green in the leaf—that is, at least until fall rolls around. Due to changes in temperature and the length of daylight in autumn, the leaves stop making food, so the chlorophyll breaks down and the green colors disappear, thus giving the yellow and orange pigments space to flourish.   

The sugar maple and Japanese maple change into particularly beautiful shades of orange that, as Billie Holiday first sang in 1956, make autumn in New York so inviting. On benches in Central Park, greet autumn in New York, it’s good to live it again…

Yellow – Dayne by the Lorca Hart Trio

There’s no better way to revel in the rich stains of fall than with an album titled, Colors of Jazz. With its fast pace, this vibrant tribute to Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter represents yellow. Imagine speeding down the road in a bright yellow sportscar, with the top down, peering through your sunglasses at the golden yellows of the American elm, black cherry, cucumber magnolia, shagbark hickory and witch hazel.  

If you’re looking for more brilliantly colorful songs for fall, Colors of Jazz is available in our store and on all major music platforms!

What songs should you play at a dinner party?

Cooling temperatures mean fewer barbeques and outdoor gatherings, but it also means more
dinner parties inside, more evening chats over glasses of wine by the wood-burning stove.
Whether you’re hosting a vegetarian dinner party, a formal dinner party or a birthday dinner
party, we’ve hand selected some tunes that are sure to set the perfect mood for your guests.
Billie Holiday – All of Me


There’s no better way to start the night off than with a well-known jazz standard from the iconic
Lady Day. First published in 1931, this tune revolves around the emotional despair of a
heartbreak, yet, with the repetition of high notes, it has an almost jubilant feel to it.
WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been In Love Before

A heartwarming instrumental jazz song like this provides a lowkey and sophisticated background
great for sipping on cocktails and munching on hors d’oeuvres. Bruschetta anyone?


Andy Williams – Moon River


Even if your guests aren’t jazz enthusiasts, they’ll most likely recognize this song, which won an
Academy Award for Best Original Song when it was first performed by Audrey Hepburn in her
1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Then, a year later, Andy Williams covered the song, and it
became the theme to his T.V. show. The Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri was also
named after Williams’s cover of the song!


Jimmy Durante – Make Someone Happy


Enjoying good food with loved ones is bound to make everyone happy, just like this 1965 song!
Durante’s gravelly voice and his Lower East Side accent and style also create a nice ambience to
light up a cigar after dinner and settle into a comfy armchair.


Dean Martin – Ain’t That A Kick In The Head


After everyone has relaxed and digested their food for a bit, it might be a good time to dance to a
swinging big band jazz arrangement like this one. Martin originally performed the song in the
1960 film Ocean’s 11 and surprisingly, it did not end up charting. But no matter, it’s still one of
Martin’s most beloved songs, and it will still get you swirling around and tapping your toes with
a dance partner!


Lorca Hart Trio – Bye Ya


Eventually, to everyone’s’ dismay, the hour gets late, and the night must come to an end. But
first, one last laugh and hug! While guests are putting on their coats and kissing cheeks goodbye,
this upbeat, jovial instrumental, with a slamming drum solo to boot, will keep everyone
marching happily along and remind them of all the fun you had that evening.

If you’re looking for more lovely jazz music to play at your elegant dinner party, we recommend
Lorca Hart Trio’s album, Colors of Jazz, and the WJ3 All Stars’ album Lovers & Love Songs,
both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms today. And

When is Father’s Day 2021?

Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June, so this year, that means Father’s Day is on June 20th! The holiday was founded in 1910 in Spokane, Washington by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd. Dodd wanted a day to honor her father, a Civil War veteran who raised six children as a single parent, so she proposed the idea to her church. Initially, Dodd wanted the day to land on her father’s birthday, June 5th, but the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, so they decided on the third Sunday in June instead. 

Well, now that you know some of the history behind Father’s Day and its observation time, you might be wondering, what kind of music and what songs should you listen to during the celebration of paternal bonds? Well look no further because we have a playlist that’ll impress any dad!

The Temptations – Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

An award-winning dad deserves award-winning music, like this 1972 Motown classic, which was the number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and the winner of not one, not two, but three Grammy awards. Featuring a variety of instrumental textures, like the plucked bass guitar solo, the hi-hat cymbal drumming, wah-wah guitar and electric piano, this groovy, soulful tune will be sure to get your dad’s head nodding. 

George Strait – Love Without End, Amen

If your dad is a country music fan, he’ll definitely be familiar with this tune from the “King of Country,” George Strait. The song is about a boy who was sent home from school one day for fighting. He told his father what happened and stood there on those tremblin’ knees, waitin’ for the worst. But the boy’s father surprisingly said, let me tell you a secret about a father’s love… daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, it’s a love without end, amen. The sweet, sentimental lyrics might just make you and your dad tear up this Father’s Day—I know my eyes are watering! 

James Brown – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag 

With its rhythmic innovations, this 1965 tune was formative in the development of funk music as a distinct style. Brown sings about an old man who was brave enough to get out on the dancefloor and try something new by busting a move. Maybe this is the tune that’ll finally get your dad to put his dancing shoes on and show y’all what he’s made of! 

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

Your dad is bound to know this iconic song, which has been covered by everyone from Elvis to Loretta Lynn, and of course, the most popular version from Willie Nelson in 1982. But has your dad ever heard a jazz ballad treatment of “Always on My Mind”? The answer is probably no, at least not until now. In this jazzy rendition, Janis Siegel and John Di Martino highlight the bittersweet regret and remorse, and also feature a lovely flute solo by Aaron Heick. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but your dad might just love this new version of the classic tune!

And if you’re fretting over what to get dad this Father’s Day, we have a suggestion: Cryin’ in My Whiskey. This album features country classics, like, “Always on My Mind,” “Where Do I Put His Memory?” and “I Fall to Pieces,” that are all spiced up with a fresh jazzy twist—perfect for the dad who might want to try something new without straying too far away from his country music comfort zone! 

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

What songs were popular during World War II?

In honor of D-Day—the decisive Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 that led to the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi control—we’re going to take a look at the type of music and the songs that were popular during WWII. 

With the advent of the radio in the 20s and 30s, American music was very accessible to everyone, so when the United States went to war in 1941, swing and jazz music provided comfort to families at home and soldiers abroad. Unlike the militaristic and patriotic songs of World War I, popular music during WWII centered around romance and strength. Now, let’s listen to some of the songs that boosted the morale of our veterans!

Glenn Miller – Chattanooga Choo Choo

Written by Mack Gordon and composed by Harry Warren in 1941, this song was originally recorded as a big band/swing tune and was featured in the movie Sun Valley Serenade. The tune opens with the trumpets and trombones imitating a train whistle and the whole band sounding like a train rolling out of a station. 

Next, we get a dialogue between a shoeshine boy and a passenger. The passenger describes the route from New York through Baltimore and North Carolina until finally reaching Chattanooga, where he plans to settle down for good with a woman he knew from earlier in life. With the fun instrumental imitations of a train’s “choo choo,” it’s no wonder that this became the first song to receive a gold record for selling 1.2 million copies!

Johnny Mercer – G.I. Jive

Johnny Mercer wrote and performed this song in 1944 with the intention of making something that the soldiers would like, and boy did it hit it on the head! This tune became the biggest hit of all the songs that revolved around soldier life during World War II. Roodley-toot, jump in your suit, make a salute! 

When the Lights Go On Again – Vaughn Monroe

This hopeful and calming song, which reached number one on the charts in 1943, looked forward to the time when the boys are home again all over the world and rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above. A time when a kiss won’t mean “Goodbye” but “Hello to love.” This song really shows the power of music to raise one’s spirits and to unite people from all around the world. 

King Cole Trio – Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You

This love song was originally written in 1929 but became popular in 1944 with the recoding from the King Cole Trio. IT reached #1 on the Harlem Hite Parade, which charted the top songs in the Harlem district of New York City. And now, the classic tune has been reimagined by the legendary WJ3 All-Stars! 

If you’re looking for some more modern renditions of classics from the 20s, 30s and 40s, look no further than Lovers and Love Songs, WJ3 All-Star’s most recent release. The album is available inn our store and on all major music platforms!

John di Martino Post #2

Ah, the sweet bliss of a Friday afternoon. Nothing beats it. Except maybe this Friday feature with New York City based musician, John Di Martino. 

If you read last week’s feature, you’ll know that Martino is more than just a jazz pianist, he is also a composer, arranger and producer. But did you know that Martino also has worked in a wide range of musical genres? 

Martino has a long collaboration with percussionist and musicologist, Bobby Sanabria. Together in 2000, they produced the album “Afro-Cuban Dream: Live & In Clave!!!” which was nominated for a Grammy award and received critical acclaim for its progressive approach to the art of the big band. Martin is also active on the world beat scene, working with South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo. 

More recently, Martino has been exploring the fusion of country western and jazz music in the new album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” Released by Night Is Alive, this album also features the vocals of Janis Siegel and the bass of Lonnie Plaxico. “Cryin’ in My Whiskey” is just what we need to be listeninng to right now in order to celebrate this (hopefully) post-covid era. The songs on this album tell the stories of country classics with a jazz twist. 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. 

What music inspires the versatile John Di Martino you may wonder? Well, look no further, we have the answers you’re looking for below:

  • Besides jazz, what genres of music do you like to listen to? 
    • I love to listen to classical music, world music—I really love all music!
  • Who are some other musicians that inspire you? 
    • I am inspired by Herbie Hancock, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gil Evans, John Coltrane, Bela Bartok & many others!
  • What is your favorite tune from Cryin’ In My Whiskey
    • I love all the tracks, but I will say: “Break It To Me Gently.”

John Di Martino Post #1

The weekend is finally here! Thank goodness! Now it’s time to have some fun and get to know this creative jazz pianist, John Di Martino. 

Martino was born and raised in Philadelphia, and as a teenager he spent most of his time at local jazz clubs, where he still returns to work on occasion. Martino eventually moved to New York City, where he is now based, and began his career.

Described as a “shape-shifter,” Martino is known for occupying many different realms as a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and producer. As a jazz pianist, he’s performed and recorded with famous musicians like Eddie Gomez, Kenny Burrell and James Moody. As a musical director, he has accompanied Dianne Schuur and Jon Hendricks. 

We’re lucky enough to feature this world-class pianist, who has performed in China and Carnegie Hall, on our newest album, “Cryin’ In My Whiskey.” Also featuring the vocals of Janis Siegel, this album is a blend of country western and jazz music that is full of classics you’re sure to recognize, like “Always On My Mind” and “I Fall To Pieces.” 

I know it’s Friday and we don’t want to think about next week yet, but the tunes from “Cryin’ In My Whiskey” will make your commute to work on Monday feel like a luxurious cruise.    

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

and all major online music platforms. 

#JohnDiMartino #CryinInMyWhiskey #jazz #feature #musician #pianist #composer #arranger #NightisAlive #countrywestern #album #crossgenre

We got to sit down and pick Martino’s brain. Check out his answers below!

  • What are you most looking forward to in the coming months? 
    • I look forward to the return of live gigs and touring, but much more recording in the meantime!
  • Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for young musicians? 
    • Find your unique ‘God-Given’ voice and trust in it! The practice of imitation is only a tool for learning!
  • What is your favorite tune from Cryin’ In My Whiskey
    • I love all the tracks, but I will say: “Break It To Me Gently”

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. 

#JanisSiegel #CryinInMyWhiskey #jazz #feature #musician #vocalist #singer #NightisAlive #countrywestern #album #TheManhattanTransfer #crossgenre

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!

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.