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Cappuccino with Jules

Lifestyle. Music. Film. TV. Freshly brewed.

Jazz… Hot and Cool!

“Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, jazz is jazz.” – Louis Armstrong

Jazz. A relaxing night and day soundtrack. Soothing like syrup and honey. Fresh for the ears. Unlike La La Land‘s Mia, I heart jazz. My friends call me Jazzy Jules, as I happen to be the only jazz admirer in my circle. All my online usernames are jazz-inspired, from jazzy.avenue to jazzontherocks. In fact, an all-jazz CD from the Lazy Sunday Box compilation series that I picked up at a little record shop in Melbourne, Australia is keeping me company as I’m working on this dedication to jazz in the spirit of International Jazz Month.

I grew up with jazz, and it provided the first bits of inspiration for my adventures in music and songwriting. My experience began with the ultimate jazz queens like Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and my all-time favorite Ella Fitzgerald, whose records I still play these days. I would also put on some Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole plus modern jazz greats like Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble and Renee Olstead. All jazz-inspired and Woody Allen films I enjoy, such as Midnight in Paris, When Harry Met Sally, Down with Love and Cafe Society. It was this appreciation for jazz that led me into taking Jazz Lab and Ensemble during my training at the California College of Music in Pasadena, CA (I was incredibly lucky to be mentored by one of jazz’s greats Dee Dee McNeil as well as SWITCH member and astounding soul artist Phillip Ingram who I’m still in touch with). And I’m now left thinking about my singer-songwriter career. In case it never takes off, I just want to be a jazz musician.

With the comeback of all things retro and a swinging band like Postmodern Jukebox that gives jazz a whole new spin, the future of jazz looks brighter than ever. In my opinion, jazz is much more vibrant than the classical genre. It’s adaptable, it’s built on improvisation, and it fosters collaboration and creativity within the players. Everybody is welcome to contribute to it and reinterpret a standard the way they want to. To quote Miles Davis, “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” This is definitely the polar opposite of classical music and even musical theatre, where you’re supposed to stick to what’s written on the music sheet.

In jazz, every note is allowed to be sung or played differently, creating a new flavor along the way. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about creating your own vibe in your performance. You can even mix it with other styles to create acid jazz, jazz-soul, acoustic pop-jazz, smooth jazz, French jazz, and so on. In Bill Evans’s own words, “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience because it’s feeling, not words.”

And that, my dear friends and readers, is why I find jazz to be both hot and cool. Enjoy this international jazz month, everyone!

Here’s a list of delightful jazz tunes I keep returning to:

  • It Had to Be You
  • As Time Goes By
  • Mona Lisa
  • C’est Si Bon
  • Deed I Do
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • Moanin’
  • Peel Me a Grape
  • Bluesette
  • God Bless the Child
  • Walking My Baby Back Home
  • Cruella DeVil
  • The Nearness of You
  • Sunday Kind of Love
  • Moonglow
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • If I Only Had a Brain
  • ‘Round Midnight
  • I Love Paris
  • Easy Living
  • I Wish You Love
  • Old Devil Moon
  • The Very Thought of You
  • Moon River
  • Witchcraft
  • Orange Colored Sky
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Kartini Day

All females shall rejoice, for April 21st marks the celebration of Raden Adjeng Kartini’s birth. Kartini became one of Indonesia’s very first heroines and fought for women’s rights and education at a time when women still didn’t have a voice. In honor of her legacy, a brand new film depicting her life has been released starring notable actress Dian Sastro. Watch it now at a cinema near you! Happy Kartini Day, everyone!

Kartini

“La La Land” DVD, Blu-ray and Steelbook Art

Here’s to the fools who dream! Get ready for another day of sun and a lovely night, all La La Land lovers! The city of stars are shining bright for us, as the (almost) Academy Award-winning film and recipient of 7 Golden Globes will finally be available to bring home on April 25th.

Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)’s charming little adventures around LA in pursuit of their individual dreams – acting for Mia and jazz for Seb – are worth reliving, and the nostalgic references to Old Hollywood adds a degree of timelessness to this Damien Chazelle musical masterpiece.

Not only is La La Land going to be on standard DVD, 4K Ultra HD and the popular DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD combo format. A collector’s edition steelbook will also be released on May 15th. Even Target, Walmart and Best Buy offer their own versions with varying covers.

With delightful special features that include Designing La La Land, Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm (I’m personally glad this one makes the list, as I enjoyed their previous works in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad), John Legend’s Acting Debut and La La Land‘s Great Party, this brand new classic is definitely a must-own, no matter which version you decide to pick!

Here are the many different cover artworks for La La Land

La La Land DVD
Image Source: Amazon

La La Land Bluray
Image Source: Amazon

La La Land Target
Image Source: Target

La La Land Best Buy
Image Source: Best Buy

La La Land Back
Image Source: Zavvi

La La Land Walmart
Image Source: Walmart

#MuslimWomensDay

March 27 marked the very first Muslim Women’s Day, and I couldn’t be more excited for my Muslim friends, relatives and all the Muslim females in every corner of the world.

Acceptance, tolerance and love are immensely needed, and through this celebration, it’s my hope that Muslims get to be properly and positively represented on the media as well as in today’s society with the freedom to speak up and display their pride.

MuslimGirl.com has partnered up with popular media brands like MTV, Refinery 29 and Teen Vogue to give all Muslim girls the voice and bravery to tell their powerful, humane stories. Support female solidarity!

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 7.22.12 PM

 

International Women’s Day

The future is female!

Every day is a wonderful day to be a woman. We ladies have a lot to be proud of, and especially in today’s society, where females can make an impact on the world, have strong opinions on any given topic, become bosses, global leaders and pursue their life goals in style. I support every girl out there with their ambitions. My besties are mostly girls. 99% of my favorite music artists are females. Here’s to us Queens of the universe! May we always celebrate one another’s achievements, tolerate the differences in other fellow ladies and continue to build ourselves as a diverse community.

In celebration of this exciting day, I present you a variety of quotes, images and videos of some of the superladies I’m inspired by. You’re free to share yours. Happy International Women’s Day!

Ella Fitzgerald the original jazz queen.

“Women are the real architects of society.”
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

The three Queens of Reign. Queen Mary of Scots, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Catherine de Medici, powerfully portrayed by Adelaide Kane, Rachel Skarsten and Megan Follows.
Reign CW

“Salute” by Little Mix… The ultimate feminist anthem!

Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter.
Agent Carter

Nala the lion Queen.
Adult_Nala

Female friendships rock!
Sisterhood

Our very own “New Girl”.
zooey-deschanel-1062457_H130439_L

“Moonlight” and “La La Land” at the 2017 Academy Awards

Film has always been a medium where dreams, ideas and stories can be visually expressed, and the annual Academy Awards is the one night that celebrates the magic of cinema and the large number of creative talents involved in Hollywood and international filmmaking – directors, actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, musicians, costume designers, animators and other professionals within the industry. The 2017 Oscars have finally brought back diversity, which was lacking in recent years. Jimmy Kimmel as the host provided entertainment as well as encouraged filmmakers from all over the world to continue to shape the films of tomorrow. Moonlight and La La Land – two wonderful films with equally inspiring messages – managed to pull a few wins out of all the nominations they got.

Moonlight, with its lyrical pace and compelling script that highlights the life of Chiron as he goes on an identity search, is an underrated hit with a huge likeability factor. Excellent performances by all the cast, especially Naomi Harris as Chiron’s unstable, crack addict mother! Mahershala Ali, who provided a much-needed warmth and a sense of belonging for young Chiron in the short scenes he had, managed to pull a win for Best Supporting Actor – very well-deserved. His charisma and gentlemanly quality showed throughout the Oscars ceremony. Winning Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture gave this film the credibility it deserves. A must-watch for audiences looking for life inspiration.

Fan-favorite La La Land seemed like a sure bet for the Oscars, and having Emma Stone win Best Lead Actress, Damien Chazelle as the youngest director to have won his category, Justin Herwitz for the charming music he created, and the award that was given for the film’s cinematography meant this film has what it takes to stand among the classics with its colorful visuals, dreamy leads (Emma as wannabe actress Mia and Ryan Gosling as aspiring jazz artist Sebastian) and the portrayal of dreams. John Legend, who played Gosling’s musician friend in the film delivered a smooth, cinematic mash-up of “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” at the Oscars. “City of Stars” ended up winning Best Original Song, and rightfully so, even though all contenders were equally powerful.

Despite the announcement mix-up that created a lot of controversy at the end of the night, both Moonlight and La La Land are Oscar-worthy, and the inspirational messages they convey should be welcomed by all film audiences. The compelling and diverse storytelling in Moonlight and the pursuit of dreams that La La Land represents are gold.

As a bonus, I present you a list of my other favorite #Oscars2017 moments:

  • Piper winning Best Animated Short. Cute little birdy!
  • Viola Davis’s amazing win for Fences and her remarkable speech about being an artist – “It’s the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life”.
  • Alicia Vikander and Kate McKinnon got to present.
  • The Hidden Figures ladies – Taraji Henson, Olivia Spencer and Janelle Monae – looked out-of-this world fantastic.
  • All the cookies and donuts falling out of the sky toward the guests. Very innovative!
  • The random tourists’ surprise and Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious line about all the Oscars guests looking like a wax museum had they remain still.
  • Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) and her fierce performance of “How Far I’ll Go” (despite getting hit by the wave behind her at some point) with an introduction by co-star Dwayne Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda rapping out the intro.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio handing Emma Stone her award.
  • Meryl Streep!!!

Haley Reinhart’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” Now Certified GOLD

Songstress and F is For Family voice actress Haley Reinhart finally has a certified GOLD single with her lush, dreamy rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. This divine, magical tune flawlessly displays the grandness of Haley’s vocals and has charmed listeners worldwide. It was also wonderfully used in an Extra Gum ad.

If you haven’t already, watch the commercial and download the song on iTunes. You know you “can’t help falling in love” with Haley again and again!

Ariana Grande and John Legend’s “Beauty and the Beast” Duet

Beauty and the Beast‘s theme has always been unforgettable, and now this song as old as time gets a modern update for the release of the new 2017 film by Disney. Filling in for Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson are Ariana Grande and John Legend, and this duo really do measure up to the original performers. Their soulful, powerhouse vocals make a fine, magical mix.

Listen to their version here and pre-order the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack now to get an immediate download of the song:

Natalie Portman in “Jackie”: A Portrait of a First Lady

“Don’t let it be forgot that for one brief shining moment there was a Camelot. There won’t be another Camelot. Not another Camelot.”

Natalie Portman was at her finest in her portrayal of Mrs. Kennedy, making director Pablo Larrain’s Jackie a superior film that deserves all the attention at the 2017 Academy Awards.

With the prime focus being the First Lady’s attempt at piecing her life – and ‘Camelot’ – back together in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a strong, impactful acting was needed to accurately play this iconic woman, and Natalie’s effortless performance showed how much research went into her preparation. Her mannerims, way of speaking and elegance definitely reflected the real Jackie. She had that ability to show extreme devastation about her husband’s loss but also remain composed, strong and hopeful in the face of the public.

Jackie was my favorite Natalie role after Black Swan, and I genuinely think she deserves that Best Actress win this year, even though the other choices are equally great. The same can be said of costume designer Madeline Fontaine whose work on this film was of stylish, regal quality and also Mica Levi who composed a dark yet emotive score that fit in with the grim atmosphere that Jackie’s struggle is associated with.

If you missed Jackie at the cinema, you can now pre-order the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray. Witness Natalie’s brilliant transformation into Mrs. Kennedy.

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