Feature Friday Q&A with Wayne Escoffery Part III

Feature Friday Q&A With Wayne Escoffery Part III

Last, but certainly not least, we talk to Wayne Escoffery about how the jazz industry has changed since the 80s, along with his experiences recording My Ship!

JK: Do you feel like you have accomplished the musical dreams you had as a child?

WE: I think, like most people in many careers, after you make it to a certain point, you realize that, number one, it probably wasn’t exactly what you expected it to be and, number two, these vocations, these careers, they change. When I was coming up in the 80s and 90s, when I looked at what it meant to be a successful jazz musician—that was the day of The Young Lions. And at least what I thought was that they were doing very well for themselves, doing well financially, and had a lot of resources and support. So, you’re asking if I feel like I reached that success—sure iIve reached that success, that point. I’ve succeeded in many of the goals that I had set out for myself but I’m not sure that the outcome is quite what I thought it would be because the industry has changed so much.

JK: I mean you’re still getting to play your music and get to that level of artistry you desired, right?

WE: Of course, of course and that’s ultimately one of the most important things—and being able to play with high level musicians and I’m respected in my field. Those are ultimately some of the most important things that I’ve set out to do, so I’m very proud I’ve been able to succeed in that regard but of course there are still other things that we want to make sure that we get.

JK: So how has the jazz industry changed?

WE: I think in many ways musicians are exploited more than they used to be. Granted they were exploited back then too but I think there was more money being poured into jazz specifically and into certain types of jazz and certain types of musicians. There were just more resources that were available ad there was generally more artist support and more money to support the artists. Now I think there’s still money. But it’s hard to find and unfortunately, like in our social and political environment, the “haves” try to make sure that they continue to have. And I think that they’re more willing to exploit, than to help, bring up artists and invest in artists and the industry. But that’s kind of a common thread throughout industry.

JK: Yeah definitely. So, what was it like recording the album My Ship?

WE: Well, interestingly enough, I was only asked to join the cast I think one or two nights before we went into the studio. But with that being said, I’ve known most of the musicians, except for Isaiah, for decades. I’ve played with them on a number of occasions, so of course it was like reuniting with buddies to make some music and that was fun and I’m sure you can hear bits of that in the product. Yeah, and I mean you know Willie is a great professional and knows what to do. In many ways there’s very little that needs to be said among the musicians that performed in this album because we all know what to do, we all know how to support each other, and we all know how make great music. So, it was actually pretty easy. It felt good to just play some classic songs together.

JK: What’s your favorite song on the album if you have one?

WE: Well, I don’t know what my favorite rendition is, of what we’ve done, but I know that Broadway is one of those songs that I always have affection for because one of my heroes, saxophonist Dexter Gordon recorded Broadway—that was one of his classics, his recording of that song became a classic interpretation, so I always like getting a chance to play Broadway. It makes me think of Dexter. He’s really one of my idols.

If you’re looking for some more Wayne Escoffery, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms!

Feature Friday Q&A with Wayne Escoffery Part II

Feature Friday Q&A With Wayne Escoffery Part II

The conversation with Wayne Escoffery continues this beautiful Friday! Today we talk more about the Grammy-award-winner’s early times on the sax, along with his other career aspiration—psychology. 

JK: Do you think there was anything specific that inspired you to play the tenor saxophone?

WE: I mean, again, my mother was a big influence in that regard. And it turns out that my grandfather on my father’s side. played amateur saxophone so that I guess was kind of, somewhat of an inspiration. As far as the tenor goes, really at my elementary school, they were handing out saxophones and the tenor was the biggest one and I was the biggest guy so they gave that to me.

JK: Makes sese! Do you remember any of the first songs you learned on the tenor sax?

WE: Uh, probably Hot Cross Buns.

JK: Haha of course. And then were there any songs that really resonated with you as you started to advance?

WE: Let me think about that. Because I came from the perspective of a singer and I was influenced by those Motown singers as well as the singers of the choral tradition, I would really try to play some of those melodies by ear on the horn. And even popular melodies of the time. I remember trying to play songs by New Addition, songs like Candy Girl. Whatever was popular at the time, I tried to play on saxophone. I watched a lot of black TV shows like the Jeffersons, and I used to try and play that theme song on the saxophone. I pretty much played any popular music that I was hearing. And I think that was good to do because it’s important to play what is familiar to you, so you learn how to play what you’re hearing in your head on your instrument because ultimately that’s what we try to continue to do.

 

JK: Do you miss singing at all? Do you still sing?

WE: I don’t sing anymore. I do miss it sometimes. It was a very great experience, not just the act of singing but the camaraderie. The organization was a great organization and the amount of discipline that was required to perform—there are a lot of aspects of that that I think I kept with me over time.

JK: When you were a kid, did you pretty much know that you wanted to become a musician?

WE: I kind of did. My dream was to be a pop singer. But I’m not sure that I really thought, when I was young, that that was a career. I knew that it was something that I wanted to do and that I loved to do and that I fantasized about but I don’t  know that I thought about making music as a career or a way to make money, it was just definitely something that I wanted to do. When I was older and realized that a career meant making money so that you could take care of yourself, I wanted to do other things but the music was still a passion and I decided that if I really wanted to be a successful, serious musician that I had to really dedicate my time and energy to it.  

JK: Did you have an idea of something else you wanted to do to make money?

WE: I studied psychology a little bit. Even in high school, I was fortunate enough to take some college level classes in psychology. At one point I really wanted to do that, to be some type of therapist or a psychologist.

JK: But then your music career took off?

WE: Well, it’s not that it took off but that I realized how much time and dedication it would take to reach the level of artistry that I wanted to be at and I felt like I had to make a choice—I wouldn’t be able to do both.

If you’re looking for some more Wayne Escoffery, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms!

Feature Friday Q&A With Wayne Escoffery Part I

Ah, nothing beats the bliss of a Friday afternoon, right? And to improve your good mood even more, we have a new Q&A series with the Grammy-Award-winning tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery! 

Escoffery has experience front lining, around the world, in Tom Harrell’s working quintet, as well as being a member of The Mingus Dynasty, Big Band and Orchestra, and teaching jazz improvisation at the Yale School of Music. 

And now we’re lucky enough at Night Is Alive to have Wayne Escoffery featured in our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue. And with Christmas being just around the corner, be sure to be on the lookout for our upcoming album, Christmas Ain’t Like It Use To Be, featuring Wayne Escoffery!

So, without further ado, let’s get to know this remarkable musician! 

JK: Was music a big part of your household when you were growing up?

WE: Well, my mother was an avid listener of classical music and old school R&B music. But she was not a jazz listener. I basically grew up with my mother, but for the first few years of my life when my father was in the house he did listen to and play reggae music. He was an amateur reggae guitarist. So, there was exposure to that from a very early age, but for most of my childhood, it was with my mother, and she was a big fan of classical and R&B music. She would have it on casually in the house as background music. Music was always playing but it was never something that was discussed much or was a huge part of our lives. 

JK: Do you have a most beloved song from your childhood?

WE: Not in particular. But for sure, I myself was always a big fan of the young Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. My mother played that a lot. And also, choral music, she played a lot of choral music. So, no specific song, just certain artists, like Michael Jackson—he’s definitely one that resonated with me and all the artists surrounding him. You know, Motown era music. 

JK: Yeah, definitely great music! So, I saw that at age 11 you joined the New Haven Trinity Boys Choir and began taking saxophone lessons. 

WE: Yeah, the boys’ choir was really my first formal introduction into music, so really, I consider the voice my first instrument. And yes, after that, at around 11, I started playing the tenor saxophone actually, which is somewhat unusual as a lot of older players start playing the clarinet or alto saxophone first.

JK: What inspired you to join the choir?

WE: Well, two-fold—my mother’s love for choral and classical musical and also, growing up in New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven is a very diverse place and while there are a lot of areas that are well-to-do, there is also a lot of poverty, so there were lots of areas, things ad environments that my mother wanted me to stay away from. She was definitely big on keeping me busy. When the director of the New Haven Boys’ Choir visited our elementary school looking for choir boys, he saw some talent in me and my mom right away suggested I join the boys’ choir. It was a pretty serious organization, so that pretty much kept me busy at least three days of the week. 

JK: Hmm I see. Clever of your mom! And then you started playing the saxophone.

WE: Yeah, I would basically go to choir practice with saxophone in hand and before or after choir I would have saxophone practice. Not necessarily playing jazz music, just band music. 
If you’re looking for some more Wayne Escoffery, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platfor

Is Jazz Music Good for Studying?

Is jazz music good for studying?

With the schoolyear starting back up again, you might be thinking about how to improve your study skills. Maybe you want to try out meditating to declutter your mind before hitting the books. Or maybe you’re one of those people who motivates themselves with an M&M after each page.

Some people like to study early in the mornings, others like to stay up all night, and some prefer silence while others can’t stand it. Well, if you’re someone who likes noise, you might be glad to find out that jazz music is excellent for studying because it helps reduce stress!

One neuroscientist found that the improvised nature of jazz engages the brain and minimizes stress in ways that classical music does not. And stress, as you may already know, is the enemy of memory ability. The happier and more relaxed that you are, the more likely you are to remember an important fact or vocab word. And we all know that the swinging style of jazz always puts a smile on your face!

The only thing to possibly be wary of is jazz songs with singing because the lyrics may confuse and distract your brain. The best jazz to listen to while studying is definitely instrumental. 

So, sharpen your pencils, get out your highlighters and headphones and turn on these snazzy instrumental tunes!

 WJ3 All-Stars – Broadway

This vibrant, fast-paced 2022 tune will warm up those brain waves. Your eyes will glide easily through the dense paragraphs as you listen to the dazzling sax solo.

John Di Martino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Tell Me Why

Now that you’re in the groove, you’re probably becoming more curious about what you’re studying and learning. Like this jazz song, you’re digging deeper into the layers of meaning that exist in the world and you’re wondering, why? Why are things the way that they are? Well, keep up the hard work and contemplative thought and soon enough, you’ll be the expert with all the answers!

WJ3 All-Stars – I Should Care

I don’t know about you, but after studying for a while, I can start to get into a slump. Maybe you’re getting a bit drained and apathetic. But don’t worry, this song will give you the second wind that you’re craving! It’ll make you remember why you care so much about your studies.

John Di Martino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Please Don’t Go

The backbone of this song is definitely the energetic drumming, which creates an upbeat tempo that’ll perk you right up and get you through that last assignment. And then, once you’ve completed your work for the day, you can celebrate by dancing a little jig! The librarians will be so entertained that they just might not want you to go!

If you’re looking for more spunky instrumental jazz tunes to listen to while you study, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed & Blue, both of which are available in our store and on all major music platforms!

Feature Friday Q&A with Steve Davis (Part III)

The conversation with trombonist Steve Davis continues! And this week, he’s giving us all the juicy, behind-the-scenes details about the recording of the new album, My Ship!

JK: What was it like recording the album My Ship?

Stevie-D: Like I mentioned about Willie—to work with him is always great. He always puts together all-star groups, dream bands. Everybody on the date is playing on such a high level, and we all go back and have history together. There’s always such a good camaraderie and collaborative spirit working together and it’s just so inspiring to hear everybody soloing on such a high level, playing the ensemble passages. We really got together on some nice arrangements. And Willie asked me to put together some particular arrangements and I was really honored to do that. At the same time, we wanted to keep the approach somewhat streamlined—not too much over arranging and super complex writing because it just wasn’t necessary. And hopefully, it leaves some space for everyone in the band to do their thing and shine and give their full expression and contributions. Hopefully we achieve that and the record’s really wining. Anytime it’s Gerald Cannon and Willie Jones playing bass and drums it’s going to be swinging, big time. Yeah, I’d just say we had a great time doing it. And playing with Jeremy and Wayne Escoffery, they’re both just A1, top shelf tenor sax—you can’t do any better than that. And Isiah is a wonderful young pianist whose got a very strong voice already. We just had a blast—it was fun.

JK: And you did the arranging for the album, correct?

Stevie-D: Now that I’m thinking back on it, yeah, I guess I did do most of it. I guess it could’ve been anyone of us who filled that role, but I guess I did. Everyone helped a great deal to work out any kinks and make the music as smooth and hip and swinging as possible, so I really appreciate everybody’s efforts in that regard, and of course just everyone’s tremendous playing. I can’t wait to really have a good listen.   

JK: Kathy said that a couple of the tracks were beloved songs from her childhood. It all seems very serendipitous—like the album is about accomplishing one’s childhood dreams.

Stevie-D: I’ve been privileged to be on a few of these projects with Kathy and Willie now and it’s always such a pleasure. I really appreciate her spirit for the music and musicians. It’s just really easy and fun to work with her. I would say that when she gives us a theme like this, it does provide us with some really nice inspiration and it’s very genuine. It’s not some kind of manufactured thing; she’s really speaking from her heart when she talks about these songs and gives us an idea of what she’s trying to get to, in an emotional way, through the music. Sometimes when you’ve been playing—just showing up and making records, you can forget about that a little bit. You just kinda play the part, and that’s it. My Ship, though, is personal and I love that. Actually, at this point in my career, I always wanted to be involved in projects that are meaningful like that. I’m happy that this one is what it is and to be on it and be a part of it and that it’s doing well—that people are hearing it and digging it. Kathy’s collaborations with Willie—there’s a solid reputation there now, people know oh man, this record’s going to be swinging! So, it’s a real honor to be a part of that.

JK: So, could you tell me more about the arranging process?

Stevie-D: You get a list of songs. I don’t know that I suggested any of the tunes but they’re all such good pieces that I just, uh, embraced the assignment if you will. And then when you know who’s on the date and who you’re writing for—the instrumentation obviously, but the personality—you have history with the musicians and you can picture everyone’s musical voices, so I kinda start there—who’s going to take the lead on this? What would be a nice way to voice the horns, and then of course Gerald is a good writer and Willie is too, so I always defer to musicians of their caliber and those two in particular, and I ask, what do you hear on this? Do you hear something a little different they might say no that’s cool, or they might say nah this is cool let’s do it like this or they might say, that’s cool but how about right here what about this. I love that—when we collaborate. I never want to overwrite so that everything is so precise that everyone is locked in—it kinda takes the fun and collaborative spirit out of the music, which is the essence of what jazz music is all about. Art Blakey used to say—he’d point to the jazz band and say ladies and gentlemen, “This here is democracy at work,” and that was pretty profound to me, so that’s a good lesson to remember and try to adhere here. So yeah, that’s kinda maybe the bset way to describe it—I try to offer an interpretation on some specific things but always with room for everyone to add their two cents in there or twenty bucks and make the music that much better and that much more personal so that it’s a group sound and I think we achieve that.

JK: What is your favorite song on the album?

Stevie-D: Oh man that’s hard. That’s really hard. I can honestly say there’s something about every one of these tunes that with the arrangement and the way they came together that I was so proud of and really felt great about. It’s hard for me to choose, I mean it. I think “Wave” was not my suggestion, but I wound up playing a little on it and thinking, I don’t know about this—it was toward the end of the session—so that was a pleasant surprise, or moment. But that “Taking a Chance on Love” is pretty swinging—I like that. And “Can’t Buy Me Love”—I’m a Beatles fan, so I love that song, we all do. But “Taking a Chance on Love” might be a sentimental favorite for me.

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.

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.

Serene Songs for Painting Parties

Serene Songs for Painting Parties

Are you looking for something to do outside with friends this summer? Maybe you’re not the outdoorsy type and you’re more interested in artistic stuff. Well, no problem. If hiking and kayaking sound exhausting to you, and drinking and dining outside have gotten a bit boring, how about hosting an afternoon of painting en plein air? I’m sure that you and your friends will love being able to explore and challenge yourselves creatively, while also getting to chit chat and enjoy the beautiful weather!

And with all the new painting products and techniques out there, you’re sure to find something that fits your interests. Whether it be hiring an instructor to teach watercolor for beginners, using watercolor pencils, Winsor & Newton watercolor pallets, or painting landscapes or portraits, there is a plethora of fun options out there!

By now, you’re probably wondering, what songs should you listen to during your painting party? Don’t worry—since music is our game at Night is Alive, we’ve got you covered!

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Kick off your watercolor painting party with this classic song from 1967 that everyone is sure to know and love. Be like Vincent Van Gogh and capture the feelings of nature around you. Like Armstrong sings, paint pictures of the trees of green, red roses too and the skies of blue and clouds of white.

Hudson River Wind – John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery

With the hot weather we’ve been having lately, there’s nothing like a nice river wind to cool the sweat on the back of our necks, and that is the exact sensation that this beautiful song portrays. Let the saxophone refresh and revitalize your energy and creativity as you splash colors onto your canvas!

Nat King Cole – Nature Boy

This 1948 tune is one of the lesser-known ones from the great Nat King Cole, but by no means is it less enthralling. The lyrics tell the story of a “very strange, enchanted boy” who wandered “very far over land and sea” and told the speaker that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” which I think is a wonderful message to keep in mind as you paint the enchanting world around you. Maybe your finished painting can be given to a loved one as a gift!

The WJ3 All-Stars – Wave

This beautiful lowkey jazz instrumental provides the perfect backdrop for a peaceful day of watercolor painting. Let the soft melody of the trombone and the rhythm of the drums carry your imagination away into a dreamy, blissful landscape.

Lorca Hart Trio – Blues Alliance

There’s nothing more enjoyable to paint than the sky and the setting sun, and this song will inspire you to capture all those stunning shades of blue in your painting.

If you’re hosting a watercolor painting party and you’re looking for some more relaxing instrumentals to set the mood, I would definitely recommend our new albums, Old New Borrowed & Blue and My Ship, both of which merge the musical artistry of new songs with jazz classics. Colors of Jazz would also be a great one since each song represents a different color and emotion. These albums are available in our store and on all major music platforms today. Also, if you’d like to book one of our lovely musicians, please contact us today.

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 

Songs That Are Full Of Hope

Songs That Are Full of Hope 

You know the myth: Pandora opened that infamous box, from which sprung all the misery and evil to plague humankind for eternity. However, not all was lost. She did manage to shut the box before one vital entity escaped: Hope. This is why humans are able to persevere and carry on, despite tantamount struggle.    

To feel hope is to expect a positive outcome and to trust that things will turn out for the best. Hope is important because it can ameliorate a difficult situation and motivate us to build a better future for ourselves. 

With the global pandemic, we have all become very familiar with the role of hope in our lives and world. But did you know that in 2018, a non-profit organization, Mothers in Crisis, designated April as the National Month of Hope? 

To help you celebrate the power of hope and inspire you to plant seeds of hope in your life, community, and world, we put together a playlist of exemplary songs that are full of hope. Enjoy! 

Nat King Cole – Smile

While listening to Nat King Cole’s 1954 hit, I can’t help but think of the well-known fact that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. With his pure, buttery baritone, Cole reminds us to smile even if our hearts our aching and breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by if you smile through your fear and sorrow.  

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

There’s just no way you can a list of hopeful songs without include this 1967 classic! And the production of this song actually also involved a certain level of hope on the part of Tammi Terrell. Apparently, she was a bit nervous and overwhelmed during the recording sessions because she hadn’t rehearsed the lyrics, but hope must’ve carried her through, because her vocals were excellent! 

Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up

Like most of his songs, this 1970 tune was created with firm roots in the black gospel tradition, which originated from the uplifting work songs of enslaved people. Much of Mayfield’s work also inspired the Black community to persevere, and maintain hope, on their quest toward freedom and equality. With just a little faith / if you put your mind to it / You can surely do it. 

Dinah Washington – Trouble in Mind

This vaudeville blues-style song was written by a jazz pianist, and first recorded, in the early 1920s. Since then, it has become a blues standard and been recorded by many artists in an array of styles. With its beautiful lyrics that instill a deep sense of hope, even in the very darkest of times, it’s no wonder that Dinah Washington’s 1952 rendition reached number four on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart.  

John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Hudson River Wind 

With the recent unpredictable and sporadic spring weather, this is the perfect jazz song to listen to and help you gain hope for a brighter, sunnier tomorrow! This brand-new tune reminds us that no matter how hard the harsh winds may be blowing, the river of life will persist and continue flowing. 

To hear more jazz songs that merge the musical artistry of the new with the traditions of the old, check out our album, Old New Borrowed & Blue, which is available in our store and on all major music platforms.   

This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.