Feature Friday with John Di Martino

Feature Friday with John Di Martino

Summer is really heating up—finally! I don’t know about you, but for a while there, when we were having fifty-degree mornings and evenings, it didn’t really feel like summer. Now, though, with the sound of the ice cream truck around the corner and the sweat slick on the back of my neck, I’m ready to turn on some country music, take a dip in the pool and crack open a beer!

Country music is the sound of summer in America, and there’s really not a hotter country album out right now than Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which offers jazzy renditions of your most favorite country classics, like “Whenever You Come Around.”

And this Friday, we get to chat a little bit with composer, arranger, and pianist John Di Martino, who is featured in Cryin’ In My Whiskey, and who journalist Mark Ruffin described as “one of the most inventive small group arrangers in NYC.”

What was your most beloved song as a child and why?

“Once in a Lifetime” by Anthony Newly.

What is your favorite country song (that is not included in Cryin’ in My Whiskey)? 

“El Paso” by Marty Robbins.

What was it like rehearsing and producing this album? 

I really enjoyed producing and arranging this project. Kathy Salem and I are thinking about making another country music CD featuring a male singer!

Our album Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available on all major music platforms now and in our store.

Feature Friday with Nicolas Bearde

Feature Friday with Nicolas Bearde

Sometimes the week just flies by smoothly by without a hitch! The weekdays blur effortlessly into the weekend, just like the fuzzy white poplar seed pods floating around in the air.

Those hazy days of summer have officially begun and what better way to melt into the encroaching sea of bliss than with a Feature Friday? Today we are chatting with the lovely Nicolas Bearde, whose silky baritone draws in crowds from all around the West Coast!  

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, award-winning vocalist Nicolas Bearde has always loved listening to music with his mother, and now, he has recorded six CDs, the most recent of which peaked in the Top 20 on the Jazz Week Charts. Bearde also has experience working as a music educator at the California Jazz Conservatory.

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

R&B and hard funk! Or something like Caribbean-Soul… so much to choose from!

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

I’d likely be something out of the Stevie Wonder catalogue—he goes so deep. Or more likely—at this point in my life—probably “Here’s To Life,” which is an Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary composition. I think it speaks to where I am in life right now—I seem to be in a period of constant reflection… 

Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

Hawaii is one of my favorite places on earth! I don’t get there very often, but I feel a deep connection with the green-ness of it and the constancy of the ocean-song.

Who is your dream collaboration (living or legend)?

It would be interesting to have spent time with composer/songwriter/arranger like Duke Ellington or the songwriting team of Gamble and Huff. 

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

Treat others as you would be treated… a golden oldie you might say, but it works in every culture! 

Sweet Songs for Strawberry Picking

Sweet Songs for Strawberry Picking

Now that school is out, maybe you’ve been tasked with babysitting your grandchildren or your nieces and nephews, but you’re struggling to come up with fun activities to do with them. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you’ve just been finding yourself googling chocolate covered strawberries near me. Either way, chances are, you could probably use a nice day of strawberry picking!

And you’re in luck because, according to horticulturalists, mid-May to early July is the best time of year to go strawberry picking in the eastern and midwestern northern states! Strawberries are in season now in this area, which means they are the most naturally ripe. So, the local strawberries you’ll be picking will be much tastier than the strawberries you’ll find at the grocery store, which have usually been shipped from thousands of miles away!

Find a wild strawberry patch, farm, or orchard near you, grab a pail and a speaker, and turn on these sweet tunes while you pick some berries!

Miriam Makeba – Love Tastes Like Strawberries

Nicknamed “Mama Africa,” this South African singer, songwriter and civil rights activist was famous in the 1960s and 70s for her many musical accomplishments in Afropop and jazz, and for becoming a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement.

In contrast with her other more political songs, this 1962 tune is very light and whimsical. The dreamy lyrics will make biting into a dewy strawberry feel like true love’s kiss! The berry man cried, won’t you try this / We looked, we stopped, we stole a kiss / The berries are gone and the spring has passed / But I know my love will always last.

Wynton Marsalis – The Strawberry

This 2017 collaboration at the Lincoln Center Orchestra features many wonderful contemporary artists who really do a great job creating a fun, vibrant and eclectic sound that’ll be sure to put a pep in your step as you wake up early on a crisp summer morning to pick some delicious strawberries. Your grandkids and nieces and nephews will also probably love trying to identify all the different instrument sounds in the composition.

Also, here’s a quick tip: morning is the best time to pick strawberries because it is still cool out, so the delicate berries won’t bruise and will last longer and store better!

The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever

While you pick some scrumptious berries, embrace your inner free-spirit, and indulge in a sense of childlike wonder with this beloved 1967 tune. Did you know that John Lennon thought this song was his finest work with the Beatles? Do you agree?

Grover Washington, Jr. – Strawberry Moon

This funky 1987 tune comes from one of the founders of smooth jazz—Grover Washington, Jr. I don’t know about you, but the silky saxophone and charming melody of this song really makes me want to sit on the back patio at dusk, sip on some champagne and munch on some chocolate covered strawberries!

Deanna Washington – Strawberry Wine

Inspired by the songwriter’s coming of age story as a teenager at her grandparents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin, this sentimental 1996 ballad became a signature for both Washington and Matraca Berg, who wrote the song.

There’s just something nostalgic about the sweetness of strawberry wine. It brings you back to summers passed, doesn’t it? The hot July moon saw everything / my first taste of love oh bittersweet / Green on the vine.

The WJ3 All-Stars – Star Eyes

All the yummy strawberry sweetness and nectar might just go to your head and give you star eyes! After the day’s adventures, come home, relax with your loved ones, and listen to this peaceful jazz song while you eat some fresh-baked strawberry scones.

If you’re looking for some more dreamy jazz songs that’ll bring you back to your childhood, check out the newest album from the WJ3 All-Stars—My Ship, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms today!  

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.