Songs for a Long Flight

Songs for a Long Flight

Since we’ve been locked up for the past few years with COVID, chances are that you’re feeling a bit restless. Maybe, due to travel restrictions, you haven’t left the country in years. Or maybe, you’re a homebody and just recently got a passport. Well, either way, now is the time to indulge your wanderlust! Hop on a flight to the exotic destination of your dreams—Paris, Bangkok, Fiji—who knows where you’ll go!

And while you’re waiting to board that 9-, 10- or 12-hour flight, take a look at the playlist we made especially for you. These songs will help you to unwind, enjoy the view out the window and get you excited to explore a new city or village!

Willie Jones III, Steve Davis, Jeremy Pelt – Wave

I don’t know about you, but I always snag the window seat if possible. There’s nothing like soaring above the clouds at sunset, sipping on a glass of complimentary wine and listening to some instrumental jazz music, like this new 2022 song “Wave.” Featuring some of the top musicians in the industry today, this tune will inspire you to reflect on all the ups and downs in life while you gaze out the window.  

Ella Fitzgerald – April in Paris

Originally written in 1932 for a Broadway musical, this slow song reveres the beauty of springtime in Paris and creates the perfect atmosphere to get you in the mood for your trip abroad. Whether you’re going to Paris or not, traveling internationally will be sure to make your heart sing, and who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon the chestnuts in bloom that Fitzgerald croons about so beautifully.

Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay

This charming 1967 hit is all about sitting and watching the morning sun, wasting time, which is exactly what you’ll be doing on your flight and during your vacation. So, enjoy it. Savor every moment. In our daily lives, we’re always rushing, like busy bees pollinating flowers, but we never stop to smell the roses. Well, this is your chance.

Willie Jones III, Steve Davis, Jeremy Pelt – My Ship

Yes, you are on an airplane, but with all the wine and exhaustion, do you ever look out the window and mistake the clouds for the sea? As adults, we don’t often indulge our imaginations, but why not? Why not imagine that you’re on a ship with sails that are made of silk, decks trimmed with gold and aglow with a million pearls?

If you’re single and looking for love, who knows, maybe this flight is taking you across the seas to find your true love and set the sails in your heart.

If you’re looking for more relaxing jazz music for your flight, check out My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, which are both available in our store and on all major music platforms today!

Q&A Feature Friday with Stevie-D

Q&A Friday Feature with Steve Davis

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and raised in Binghamton, New York, trombonist Steve Davis has always had a gift for music, which led him to release twenty albums, gain recognition for his hard-swinging, lyrical style, perform internationally and teach jazz workshops at the Jackie McLean Institute.  

More recently, Davis—nicknamed Stevie-D—has joined with Night Is Alive to arrange the music, and play the trombone in the 2022 album, My Ship, which also features Willie Jones III (drums/bandleader), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Isaiah Thompson (piano), and Gerland Cannon (bass).

And since My Ship is about looking back fondly on your childhood dreams, today we’re going to get to know a bit more about Stevie-D’s childhood, family, and early musical influences!

JK: I read that jazz was played often in your household when you were growing up. Were your parent’s musicians?

Stevie-D: My parents weren’t musicians but they both loved music and my father, in particular, was a record collector—he had a lot of jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll albums. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I had access to his vast record collection and then later CDs. So, there was always good music playing in the house, and just a culture of appreciation of jazz music in particular. And then my grandparents on both sides—my dad’s father, my grandsire, he was also a newspaper journalist like my father was at that time, but a big jazz fan and played the trumpet as a hobby. My dad played the electric bass and did a few gigs in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, but he was mostly just a music fan and played for fun. And my grandsire played the trumpet, and he could belt out “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” and he loved Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

 

And then on my mother’s side, my nana, I called her, she was a great stride pianist. She was the real jazz musician in the family. She was semi-professional and lived in Connecticut. She died when I was 19, but as a kid, I got to hear her play. When I started playing trombone as a teenager, I got to play with her a little bit when we would visit. She didn’t read a note of music, she played by ear—she was a real jazz musician, but being a woman at that time, it just wasn’t so acceptable for her to just do that, so when I look back on it, I think it was relegated more to the parlor entertainment, like “Oh isn’t that nice, you know, she’s playing the piano.” But she played all kind of Gershwin and American songbook standards and Ellington, and I learned a lot from her. She could really play.

JK: That’s an amazing story, but a shame that she wasn’t able to pursue it more.

Stevie-D: Well, she did to some degree. Boy, she would sit down—she had a piano in the house, it’s a Steinway, my parents still have it—and she’d sit down at that thing and just start swinging and play all kinds of things—”Honeysuckle Rose,” “Them There Eyes,” “Undecided”—some of the old swinger tunes, and she’d sing a little bit. She just had it. She knew what to do. So, then I would get my horn out eventually and she would teach me some of these tunes and I did it just naively, and we had fun together. So, I did get to play with her, and looking back all these years, forty years later, I cherish those memories very much. She’s a big influence on me for sure.

JK: Did you have a most beloved song growing up?

Stevie-D: Wow. Um. There’s so many. Well, one of the first songs I learned to play on my trumpet—I started on trumpet then I switched to baritone horn, and they suckered me into the tuba for a while at school, and I would up on trombone at 14, so I was a bit of a latecomer—but one of the first songs I could play on any of those instruments was “When the Saints Go Marching In,” just by ear. I always like that song, but I think everyone loves that song. My nana’s favorite song was “Embraceable You” by George Gershwin, and I played it at her funeral when I was 19 years old and I did it, again, the best I could by myself. I didn’t even appreciate or understand the depth of that moment the way I would now. So, I love that ballad.

There are so many songs I love, and plus as a kid, I was listening to the blues, B.B. King and Muddy Waters, and rock ‘n’ roll, Rolling Stones and the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix. There’s lots of great music but “Embraceable You” was a special one because it was my nana’s favorite, so I think that one’s very close to my heart.

JK: Have you played it since then?

Stevie-D: Here and there. It’s one of those tunes that I, you know some songs are so special to you that you hold it out for the right time. There are some other American Songbook standards that I wanted to play in my 20s when I had become a serious jazz musician and now that I’m 55 years old, I finally feel ready to play them in the way that I was dreaming of as a younger musician. My wife, Abena—her name is Abena Koomson Davis—she’s a great singer and knows a lot about the American Songbook. She loves “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” so I always play that one for her and I love that song too. There’s so many obviously, that was one of the things that was so fun about the project with Willie and everyone—we always delve into some of the great standards, and I think all of us really appreciate the opportunity to interpret some of the American Songbook classics and put a little bit of a fresh spin on it, but also play the tones hopefully with a great deal of integrity and genuine feeling.

JK: Do you think you’ll record a rendition of “Embraceable You” at some point?

Stevie-D: I’d love to. I look forward to it. I haven’t yet. I’m just holding that one. I appreciate the question. I’m looking forward to it; probably sooner than later.

And the conversation will continue . . . Look for the next installment of the interview next Friday! And in the meantime, if you’re looking for more Stevie-D, check out our album My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms now. 

Songs to Listen to During a Late Summer Storm

Songs to Listen to During a Late Summer Storm

Did you know that the more heat and humidity there is in the air, the stronger and wetter a thunderstorm will be? Yup, that’s right. The hot, humid draft rises to a point where it eventually condenses and forms a cloud, which grows until it’s ready for a torrential downpour.

But a summer storm doesn’t have to be a downer or disappointment. Rather, the overcast skies and rain can be a nice break from the seemingly relentless sun! And what better way to enjoy a later summer storm than reading a thrilling novel while you sip on a nice glass of crisp white wine and listen to some soft jazz?

Lorca Hart Trio – Here’s That Rainy Day

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about those gray clouds in the sky, obscuring all the blue, that calms me. Ah, there’s nothing like the smooth trinkle of raindrops sprinkling against the windowpane and the musty smell of a well-loved book with worn, dog-eared pages.

This new 2021 tune really captures the spirit of a cozy rainy day. Ralph Moore’s smooth, buttery saxophone really takes the edge off and makes you want to kick back and relax.

Stormy Weather – Etta James

This 1960 ballad is heart wrenching in its exploration of sorrow following the dissolution of a romantic relationship. The speaker’s heart is full of stormy weather since she and her man are no longer together.

She feels like she just can’t go on, yet, at the same time, James’s powerful, sunny vocals and the lyrics about praying to walk in the sun once more seem to hint at future hope. Because remember, after a rainstorm always comes a rainbow.

Come Rain or Come Shine – Ray Charles

Whether we like it or not, there are many ups and downs in life. But without the alternating rain and shine, we would all just be bored, wouldn’t we? The so-called rain is what makes us stronger, and, like Ray Charles sings in this song, it also shows us who is really there for us when it matters.

As you enjoy your later summer storm, why not celebrate love with this beautiful 1959 tune? It’ll remind you of all those people who have stood by you come rain or shine.

John Di Martino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Hudson River Wind

Maybe you’ve been having a difficult time lately. Misfortune just keeps knocking at your door and it won’t stop. Well, you know the saying—when it rains it pours, meaning that when things go wrong, they do so all at once.

Challenging periods like that may seem unbearable and insufferable, but if you’ve ever been to the Hudson River in eastern New York, you know that it can actually be quite magical to watch the storm stir up the water. This lovely 2022 song will inspire you to change your perspective and view your setbacks not as reasons to cry but as opportunities to grow.

If you’re looking for some more relaxing, instrumental jazz tunes for your rainy afternoon or evening, I’d recommend our new albums Old New Borrowed & Blue and My Ship, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms today!

This post was written by Digital Marketing Manager Jacqueline Knirnschild.

5 Songs for A Girls Night In 

5 Songs for A Girls Night In

Have you spent too much time out in the sun this summer? Between camping, boating and paddle boarding, I know that I’m a bit toasted and could use a rest from all the rays and heat.

And what better way to rest than with a cozy girls’ night in? Staying in is also a good way to save some money! Grab a few friends, a few bottles of booze and enjoy the air conditioning in the basement. While you’re at it, why not grab some aloe to soothe that nasty sunburn? There’s nothing like the salve of cool conversation with friends to revitalize you for the second half of this hot summer!

Of course, as you can probably already predict, we at Night Is Alive put together a fun playlist for your girls’ night in. These tunes will make you want to cry, laugh, and, hopefully, by the end of the night, dance and sing along!  

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

Face it, after going through a grueling heartbreak, there’s no one you’d rather talk to you than your best gal pals. And as the lyrics of this country classic point out, sometimes it’s really hard to accept that a relationship is over. You might cry so much that your brown eyes turn blue, but your friends will be there to wipe away the tears and pick you back up, so let it all out on girls’ night.

Respect – Aretha Franklin

This 1967 R&B hit is just what you need on a girls’ night because everyone is sure to know the words. From the moment that melody starts to the first vocals, this song is instantly recognizable and will make you tap your toes, or, at the very least, nod your head.

Because at the end of the day, all that we’re asking for is just a little respect when you come home—isn’t that right ladies?

Carole King – Where You Lead

If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you’ll know this 1971 tune, which is the theme song of the cult classic TV show. Like Rory and Lorelai, your best girl friends will always follow where you lead. If you need them, they will be there for you, and they will go to the ends of the earth ‘cause darling that’s what you’re worth.

And don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you and your friends belt out all lyrics and sway together with your arms entwined. We’ve all been there.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

C’mon you knew we had to put this song on the playlist, didn’t you? You got to save the best for last and this 1983 tune is definitely it. Go out with a bang by dancing on top of the tables like you just don’t care because the best of friends knows how to have fun!  

Or maybe your girls’ night isn’t quite as wild as we imagined and you’re looking for some more mellow, classy tunes to which you can sip chardonnay and nibble on goat cheese and olives. In that case, check out our many jazz albums, like our most recent releases My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue.

Five Songs for Christmas in July

Five Songs for Christmas in July

Everyone is always thrilled when the weather starts to warm up, but by mid July, you’re probably getting a bit sick of the heat, right? Sunburn, sweat and overheating cellphones can make you nostalgic for wintertime, snow and Yuletide carols.

Popular myth has it that Christmas in July was founded in the 1930s when a summer camp in North Carolina celebrated the holiday on July 24th and 25th with cotton snow, gifts, Christmas trees, and Santa Claus. Then, with the movie Christmas in July, which came out in the 1940s, the somewhat silly holiday hit the mainstream.

So, what are your Christmas in July party ideas? Do you have some quirky decorations with Santa Claus in swim trunks drinking a margarita? A t-shirt with reindeer on the beach? A Christmas-themed cornhole board?

Whatever your plans, you’re going to need music, which is why we, at Night Is Alive, put together a Christmas in July playlist for you! Enjoy!

John Di Martino, Andromeda Turre & Wayne Escoffery – Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be

Even though this song is technically about celebrating Christmas without a special someone, it can also be relevant for Christmas in July, which certainly isn’t like any other Christmas you’ve probably celebrated before! Plus, there’s never a bad time to listen to the stellar vocals of Andromeda Turre!

Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick – Christmas in July

This sweet little folk tune really draws attention to the benefits of Christmas in July, like warm breezes by the shore and long days beneath the summer sky. Released in 2012, this song makes me think that maybe celebrating Christmas in Australia—where the seasons are flipped with the Northern Hemisphere—wouldn’t actually be so bad. A barbeque and gift exchange on the beach anyone?

Bill Cunliffe Trio – Christmas Is Coming

From Grammy-award-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe, this 2019 tune will really get you in the mood for Christmas in July! The fast pace, and fun, inventive melodies create excitement for the holiday. And the funky percussion gives it a more tropical feel than many other Christmas songs out there.

Night Is Alive All Stars – Merry Christmas Baby

Nothing beats celebrating a holiday with your beloved—spoiling each other with gifts and furtively glancing into one another’s eye during the festivities. And the buttery vocals and silky-smooth saxophone in this tune produce that sense of romance one often feels around Christmas. As vocalist Christie Dashiell sings, I feel like I’m in paradise.

Bill Cunliffe – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

End the day on a whimsical note with this crisp and jaunty tune that will bring you back to the sweet and dreamy days of your childhood Christmases. The playful piano will put a smile on your face as the sun dips below the horizon and the sky takes on the pink and purple hues of the sugar plum fairy.

If you’re looking for more holiday tunes to listen to this Christmas in July, be sure to check out all of our holiday albums, which are available in our store and on all major music platforms! And if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

This post was written by Digital Marketing Manager, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Five Songs for the Zoo!

Five Songs for the Zoo!

From Apple Gifting Day to National Whipped Cream Day, it seems that just about every day there is some sort of obscure holiday, and—in case you missed it—July 1st was American Zoo Day! The celebration which marks the opening of the first zoo in the country, the Philadelphia Zoo, to the public in 1874.

What better way to celebrate this little-known holiday and piece of history than by going to the Zoo? You can take your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews, or just go with a friend or special someone. Since Night Is Alive is based in Akron, our favorite zoo is definitely the Akron Zoo, which has been recognized for its excellence in diversity and marketing!

No matter who you go with, the truth is that the zoo really never gets old. Regardless of your age, seeing zoo animals will always spark a sense of amazement in you. A lioness prowling around the enclosure, a baboon swinging from branch to branch, an elephant drinking water with its trunk. These are the wonders of the animal kingdom!

So, to get you in the mood for the Zoo, we compiled a few songs for you to listen to during your drive!

The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Did you know that this 1961 doo-wop song was actually an adaptation of a 1939 song written by a South African musician named Solomon Linda? The original, titled “Mbube,” was written in the language of isiZulu, which is spoken by the Zulu people in parts of South Africa.

Solomon Linda – Mbube

Mbube means lion but it also refers to an a cappella style of singing created by the Zulu people and made popular by a group called the Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Vocalists sing in rhythmic unison to produce intricate harmonies and textures—essentially using their voices to take the place of what an instrumental band may do. The part of the Tokens’s song that goes weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh aweem away was inspired by mbube style a cappella.

Seven Wild Men & Harry Reser – I’m Just Wild About Animal Crackers

This fun novelty song from the roaring twenties is precisely the song to get you excited to go to the zoo or circus! The swinging style of this 1926 tune evokes carnivals, fairs, elephants being led through hoops and penguins balancing balls on their beaks. It’ll make you want to do a jig all the way to the zoo!

Elvis Presley – Hound Dog

With the new Baz Luhrmann movie about Elvis hitting theaters now, it’s a great time to listen to one of the most instantly recognizable pop songs in history. But did you know that Elvis’s 1956 hit is actually a rendition of Big Mama Thornton’s 1952 R&B song? Since his rendition was so popular, many people often mistake it for an Elvis original.

The WJ3 All-Stars – Can’t Buy Me Love

Even though this song technically doesn’t have anything to do with the zoo or animals, the fast-paced melody will make you smile and look froward to the wonderful day ahead of you. The soft touch of the piano, and the stellar sax solo, also make this brand new 2022 instrumental release one to remember and listen to again and again!

If you’re looking for some more snazzy jazz tunes that’ll evoke the memories and dreams of childhood, please check out our newest album, My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms today!

This post was written by Digital Marketing Manager, Jacqueline Knirnschild.

Feature Friday with Wayne Escoffery

Feature Friday with Wayne Escoffery

What are your plans for the weekend? Maybe you’re going hiking, or kayaking? What about the drive-in movies? With the nice temperate weather we’ve been having lately, the possibilities are endless! Whatever your plans are though, we at Night is Alive, hope you enjoy yourself as much as we enjoyed sitting down and chatting with jazz saxophonist Wayne Escoffery!

Born in London and now based in New York City, Escoffery has experience performing with a multitude of musicians, such as Carl Allen, Eric Reed, and the Mingus Big Band. And now, we at Night is Alive are lucky enough to have collaborated with him on three albums: Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be, Old New Borrowed & Blue, and most recently, My Ship. In the latest release, My Ship, Escoffery’s vibrant sax is sure to make you want to move and groove!

Now, time to learn a bit more about Wayne Escoffery:

If you are not playing jazz, what is your favorite music to play?

I’ve always enjoyed playing Funk music a la James Brown, “Soul Jazz” a la Eddie Harris and Fusion a la The Yellow Jackets. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play those styles as much as I would like. 

If you were a song, which would you be and why?

A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. It’s timeless, and will make you feel happy, sad, hopeful, and sexy all at the same time. 

Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

At the moment, Portugal and Mallorca are at the top of the list. But, I think it’s ultimately more about the company you are with and your state of mind during the vacation that is most impactful. 

Who is your dream collaboration (living or legend)?

Miles Davis.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

“Be patient, you’ll get ‘em next time.” –Jackie McLean 

April Showers Bring May Flowers – 5 Rainy Day Songs

Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean that your mood has to be dreary and dark. Remember, April showers bring May flowers! Sometimes, a tough, gloomy period is watering the very seeds that’ll sprout and grow into something beautiful and joyous in the future, so go get yourself a nice warm cup of tea, snuggle up and listen to these lovely tunes on your rainy April day! 

Elvis – Pocketful of Rainbows

We all know and love the King of Rock and Roll, but have you ever listened to his lesser-known gem of a song, “Pocketful of Rainbows”? Released in 1960, this slower-paced tune is perfect for a rainy day inside. Like Elvis sings so beautifully, we need not worry whenever skies are gray above because we have a pocketful of rainbows and a heart full of love.

Otis Redding – Cigarettes and Coffee

From his 1966 “The Soul Album,” this song is a poignant meditation from the perspective of a man lingering in the early morning, sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby. The protagonist is in absolutely no rush to get started with his day. He sings to his darling about how grateful he is that she’s in his life, and how grateful he is for this simple moment together: I’ve known nothing but good old joy since I met you… I would love to have another drink of coffee, now, and please, darling, help me smoke this one more cigarette. 

Lorca Hart Trio – Dew Drop

As the Lorca Hart Trio proves in this wonderful jazz song, released in 2020, a drop of dew can be oh so delicate, beautiful and precious. Slow down and notice the dew drops outside all around you, on flowers, leaves, branches. A dew drop is in no hurry to go anywhere, it just exists in that very moment, which is exactly what you can do on this drizzly day. 

Etta James – A Sunday Kind of Love

I don’t know about you, but this song is a staple on my rainy Sunday morning playlist. Etta James’s powerful voice and the clever lyrics in this 1960 tune just soften and warm my heart into butter. But did you know that Etta James was not the first artist to release this song? It was actually composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes and Louis Prima and published in 1946. Many musicians like Fran Warren, Ella Fitzgerald and The Del Vikings came out with versions of this beloved song.

WJ3 All Stars – First Time I Saw Your Face

This slow, smooth song from WJ3 All Stars’ newest album, “Lovers & Love Songs” will have you reminiscing on the very first time that you ever met your darling—the twinkling in his or her eyes, the dimples on the cheeks and the smile that stole your heart forever. This song is perfect for cuddling up next to your loved one and savoring all those sweet memories you have together. 

If you’re looking for more soft jazz songs to keep you nice and cozy during all the rainy days this April, I would recommend the WJ3 All Stars’ album “Lovers & Love Songs” and the Lorca Hart Trio’s “Colors of Jazz.” Both are available in our store right now and on all major music platforms!

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.