Night is Alive Album Release: This Christmas With Night is Alive
“And this Christmas will be/ A very special Christmas for me…” Spend “This Christmas with Night is Alive”, our newest album of holiday favorites. Brought to you by Producer/Managing Director Kathy Salem and Executive Producer/saxophonist/ Yale Professor Wayne Escoffery it features jazz renditions of more traditional tunes.
The wonder of the holiday season is captured perfectly in the album’s eight tracks. It features all-star lineup Frank Lacy (vocals), Xavier Davis (piano), Wayne Escoffery (Executive Producer/saxophone), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), James Burton III (trombone), Richie Goods (bass), and Quincy Davis (drums). Additionally, introducing young vocalist Teddy Horangic (Yale class of 2025) and student of Wayne Escoffery, making her professional recording debut on Night Is Alive label.
This Christmas With Night is Alive was made possible largely through the efforts of Executive Producer/saxophonist Wayne Escoffery (also a Yale professor), who selected the music, the musicians, the studio, and was heavily involved in mixing and mastering.
Also significant, the album features the front line horn section of Black Art Jazz Collective and founding member pianist/arranger Xavier Davis. BAJC debuted in 2013 at Jazz at Lincoln Center and is dedicated to celebrating African American cultural and political icons, as well as preserving the historical significance of African Americans in Jazz. BAJC brings together an all- star ensemble of six unapologetically proud Black men of the highest musical integrity who feel it necessary to celebrate Black culture in a positive way. The group’s commitment, drive, and brotherhood come through in their music reminiscent of groups lead by Jackie McLean, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey and the like. Look for a future Night is Alive recording with the Davis brothers coming in 2025.
Tracks include: “Let it Snow”, “We Three Kings”, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Sleigh Ride”, “White Christmas”, “O Holy Night”, “The Christmas Song”, and of course, “This Christmas”.
“We hadn’t decided on a name for the album yet, and one of the tracks is this wonderful jazzy rendition of “This Christmas,” said Kathy Salem. “We loved it so much that it became the title. My two other favorite tracks would have to be “O Holy Night”, which gives me goosebumps – Teddy’s voice is exquisite – and “We Three Kings”, vocals with Frank Lacy, which is a traditional song that we modernized and has a wonderful solo by Wayne.”
Salem went on to describe the energy that was palpable in the recording studio, Sear Sound, New York Studio, as the musicians worked on making this a great Christmas recording. “One of the most fun aspects of recording is working with the musicians and experiencing how much they care about every song they play.
The next hours are spent mixing and mastering the music for all our listeners to enjoy the most perfect sound possible.” This was accomplished at Dave Darlington’s Bass Hit Studios in New York, New York.
2014 and 2021 Downbeat Critics Poll Winner and Grammy Award winning tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery is one of the Jazz world’s most talented rising stars and in-demand sidemen. In 2006 he secured one of the most coveted gigs in jazz: a frontline position in Tom Harrell’s working quintet. For over a decade Escoffery was mostly associated with trumpet master having toured the globe with the trumpeter, recorded seven CDs with The Tom Harrell Quintet and co-produced four of those releases. He has also been a member of The Mingus Dynasty, Big Band and Orchestra since 2000 and has made several recordings with the group. In addition to performing, Escoffery is dedicated to music education and presents lectures and masterclasses on Jazz music. He is currently the saxophone instructor for The New Jersey Performing Arts Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program, and currently teaches private online and in person lessons for all instruments. In the fall of 2016 Wayne Escoffery was appointed Lecturer of Jazz Improvisation and director of Jazz Ensembles at the Yale School of Music as a part of Yale University’s Jazz Initiative, the first of its kind for the University.
Teddy Horangic is currently a Yale undergrad class of 2025, with a passion for environmental economics, the humanities, and music. She is a member of The Yale Jazz Ensemble and the Yale Combos program under the direction of saxophonist and lecturer in Jazz Improvisation Wayne Escoffery. Teddy is also a student researcher at the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, and a member the Yale Sailing team. Teddy has a unique upbringing in that she spent many years living nomadically – first on a sailboat while attempting to circumnavigate with her family, and her high school years on a renovated bus. She decided to continue her education at Yale, drawn in by the arts community, and by the work of Professor William Norhaus, who won the Nobel for his research in environmental economics. When Covid hit, she decided to take a year off rather than spend her first year of college online. Teddy’s childhood was steeped in the sounds of bluegrass, country, punk, R&B, and soul; but once discovering jazz at age 10 she knew that she had found a music that spoke a language she could understand. Her gap year proved to be a very formative period spent in New York City as it was her first foray into professional music. She began busking daily in Tompkins Square Park, and performing short sets outside of various restaurants around the East Village with a variety of talented NYC musicians. She continues to perform in NYC and New Haven on many weekends while keeping up with her rigorous Yale coursework. Teddy has an innate understanding of the phrasing and feel of the music. Her singing displays great vocal technique, her pitch is impeccable and she maintains an innocence and vulnerability in her sound that effortlessly moves and transports listeners as only a young woman in her early twenties could.
Though you will hear Frank Lacy on vocals in Night is Alive’s First Christmas, he is first and foremost known as an exceptional jazz trombone player. Lacy has played with such free jazz paragons as Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Julius Hemphill, yet can also count Dizzy Gillespie and Abdullah Ibrahim among the prominent leaders for whom he’s worked. Indeed, Lacy spent a year-and-a-half as music director for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and played with Bobby Watson’s Horizon band, which says everything about his bop credentials. Lacy was born and raised in Houston, TX. He came from a musical family; his father was a teacher and a guitarist (he played with such musicians as Illinois Jacquet, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, and Arnett Cobb, among others), and his mother was a gospel singer. Lacy began taking piano lessons at the age of eight and took up the trumpet soon after. He played the euphonium and tuba in junior high school, and began playing trombone at 16. Before beginning his advanced musical studies in the late ’70s, Lacy earned a university degree in physics. Lacy attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he met and jammed with Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith. He later attended Rutgers in New Jersey. Lacy’s first record as a leader was Tonal Weights and Blue Fire (Enja/Tutu, 1991). Lacy is also a capable section player; he’s worked with big bands led by David Murray and McCoy Tyner, as well as Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy and the Mingus Big Band.
Jeremy Pelt has become one of the preeminent young trumpeters within the world of jazz. Forging a bond with the Mingus Big Band very early on, as his career progressed, Pelt built upon these relationships and many others which eventually lead to collaborations with some of the genre’s greatest masters. Pelt frequently performs alongside such notable ensembles as the Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Big Band, and is a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes. As a leader, Pelt has recorded ten albums and has toured globally with his various ensembles, appearing at many major jazz festivals and concert venues. Pelt’s recordings and performances have earned him critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal by legendary jazz writer and producer, Nat Hentoff, and was voted Rising Star on the trumpet, five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association. Pelt is currently touring throughout the United States and Europe in support of his latest release, “Soundtrack”.
New York based trombonist James Burton III is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most sought-after performers/educators in the jazz community. Mentored by jazz luminaries Jackie McLean and Curtis Fuller, James Burton III has lent his sound to Grammy Award-winning albums and Tony Award-winning Broadway productions. An avid educator, Burton is currently professor of jazz theory at the Juilliard School as well as conductor of the renowned Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. He has served as trombonist/associate conductor for the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Star Orchestra in the Tony Award-winning production After Midnight and played trombone/tuba in the pit orchestra of Broadway’s Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Currently, Burton can be heard alongside bandmates Jeremy Pelt, Wayne Escoffery, Xavier Davis, Vicente Archer & Jonathan Blake on a new release for the Sunnyside Record label entitled Black Art Jazz Collective: Presented by the Side Door Jazz Club.
Xavier Davis’ professional career as a Jazz pianist took off when the legendary vocalist Betty Carter spotted his outstanding talent at the 1994 International Association of Jazz Educators convention in Boston while he was performing with his college ensemble. It was her who brought Xavier to New York, hiring him exclusively as the pianist of her working trio. Today, Xavier is one of the most accomplished Jazz pianists world wide. Having led master classes and clinics all over the world and coming from a family of music educators, passing on knowledge and skills to young musicians is very important to Xavier. As such, he is proud to be Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University. Xavier was also member of the teaching staff in the Jazz department of the Juilliard School of Music in New York for six years prior to that. In 2005, Xavier became the first person to receive the prestigious “New Works Grant” twice from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation under the auspices of Chamber Music America. He has won awards at several festivals as well as in Down Beat magazine. Being a gifted composer, arranger, and producer of music, Xavier has composed and arranged music for outstanding artists like Carl Allen, Regina Carter, and Hans Schuman. He has co-produced the album “Wise Children” by Tom Harrell and recently produced the new album of singer Lizzie Thomas. Xavier is also a passionate and experienced film and commercial music composer/producer.
Music is the fulfillment of Richie Goods’ destiny – it’s in his DNA. The youngest person ever inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame, bassist Richie Goods got an early start playing in church and clubs while still attending Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School. After graduating from the prestigious jazz program at Berklee College of Music, Richie moved to New York City, where he studied under jazz legends Ron Carter and Ray Brown. Richie credits jazz luminary Mulgrew Miller for helping him hone his jazz skills early in his career. Richie toured and recorded with Mulgrew for nine years. That opportunity brought Richie to the attention of many in the jazz community and afforded him the opportunity to record and tour with a variety of jazz and popular artists ranging from the Headhunters, Lenny White, Louis Hayes and the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Milt Jackson, Russell Malone, Vincent Herring, the Manhattan Transfer and Walter Beasley to Brian McKnight, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera. Richie’s lengthy discography also includes Grammy award-winning and platinum albums of Alicia Keys and Common. Richie most recently toured with Grammy-winning trumpeter, Chris Botti.
Currently Associate Professor of Jazz Drum Set at the University of North Texas, Quincy Davis was born in Grand Rapids, MI, and comes from a very musical family. He began taking piano and drum lessons at age 6. In his elementary and middle school bands, he also played trumpet and tuba. Both of his parents are musicians who exposed him to all different styles of music including instrumental jazz, European classical, gospel, opera, R&B and jazz-fusion. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1995, Davis began studying at Western Michigan University. There he studied with the drum legend, Billy Hart. During his collegiate years, Davis gained a plethora of experience playing in big bands and small groups that played at various collegiate jazz festivals. In the summer of 2000, Davis moved to New York City where he quickly became one of the highly sought after “young cats” on the New York jazz scene. In New York, Davis frequently played at all the famous jazz venues including the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Smalls, Jazz Standard, Birdland, the Iridium, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club and Smoke. Davis stays very active as a performer keeping an active performance schedule and traveling internationally to perform. His passion for teaching is not only evident through his teaching at the University of North Texas, but also through his many video lessons on jazz drumming and interviews with master drummers on his YouTube channel which currently has 15k subscribers.
For more Christmas and other recordings by Night is Alive, visit www.nightisalive.com/albums. Also like and follow on social media (Facebook, @Night_is_Alive on Instagram, and Youtube). Learn more about Wayne Escoffery at his website: http://www.wayneescoffery.com/
Written by Elizabeth Carney, Principal Editor, Night is Alive