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Jazz

Non-Cheesy Valentine’s Day Songs That Are Jazzy on the Ears

Cupid has brought Valentine’s Day back to Earth, and you’d want to celebrate February 14 with your loved ones over pancakes and waffles. Whether you’ll be spending it the classic way with your romantic partner or with family members, relatives, and friends (go ahead and call it “Galentine” if you’re a female who’s prepping up for a little get-together with your girl best friends like me and my besties), the right music is bound to add extra flair to your Valentine’s Day.

Looking for good old love songs that are on the jazzy side and not overly sappy, cheesy and sentimental? Add these titles to your playlist, and you’re bound to have a whimsical February 14. All these tunes are best served with chocolates, puddings and a mug of cappuccino, of course.

“It Had To Be You” ~ Harry Connick Jr.
From the iconic Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal rom-com When Harry Met Sally.

“My Baby Just Cares For Me” ~ Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra feat. Haley Reinhart
Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum tapped into his musical side by making a jazz record with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra featuring a number of jazz standards. Platinum recording artist and songwriter Haley Reinhart joined him in his version of “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, which became the very first single he promoted from the album.

“S’wonderful” ~ Tony Bennett and Diana Krall
Watch what happens when two jazz greats collaborate on a jazz record. “S’wonderful” is the first track from Tony Bennett and Diana Krall’s newest release Love Is Here To Stay. The whole album would make a delightful Valentine’s Day listen.

“Cheek to Cheek” ~ Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Once you’re done playing the Fred and Ginger version, swing with Ella and Louis as they show your their take on this cheeky tune.

“Taking a Chance on Love” ~ Renee Olstead
Renee has a special jazz voice, and this lovely song from her self-titled debut album makes a lovely companion for your Valentine’s Day brunch.

“A Lovely Night” ~ Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Yes, I know it’s every bit of an anti-love song, but its playful, jazzy flair still makes it perfect for an evening out with your crush, your friends, or better yet, your anti-love. You might even attempt the Sebastian and Mia tap dance the La La Land number is famous for.

“Fly Me To the Moon” ~ Frank Sinatra/Julie London
No matter how many times (and ways) this has been played, “Fly Me To the Moon” will always take you on a grand trip to the moon. Here are two unforgettable versions of the jazz standard by Mr. Sinatra and Ms. London.

“La Vie En Rose” ~ Michael Buble feat. Cecile McLorin Salvant
Michael Buble’s rendition of this Edith Piaf classic is as charming, elegant and refreshing as ever.

“De Lovely” ~ Robbie Williams
It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de lovely! Cole Porter originally wrote this song, and Robbie Williams sang the 21st century version in De Lovely, a biopic of Mr. Porter with Kevin Kline portraying him.

Photo Credits: Lionsgate

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“Sleigh Ride” Postmodern Jukebox Style

Fresh off their Christmas special on YouTube, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox presents a brand new jazz version of “Sleigh Ride” starring Demi Remick. She’s cheery, delightful, whimsical, playful, and a superbly entertaining tap dancer. You could literally watch her for hours. Plus Scott’s piano playing is always grand.

If you’re looking for a little extra holiday cheer, this lovely video makes a joyous watch, and the song itself is worth adding to your Christmas playlist on iTunes.

Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with PMJ!

Breakfast Tunes

Mornings are made for breakfast.

Starting this January, I’ve made it a habit to rise out of bed by the time the clock strikes 6 if only for the inviting aroma of bread and butter (it’s more of a personal challenge, actually) and so far, I’ve been successful. But no matter what delicacies you start your AM with – croissants, English breakfast tea, muffins, orange juice, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, beef sausages, et cetera – light, playful tunes are bound to excite you and set you up for the day.

Let music be a savory treat for your ears. So pick a morning soundtrack and eat, listen and be jolly. No time to assemble your track list? Here are whimsical ideas you can steal for a relaxing musical breakfast. Mix them with your own for a personalized morning playlist.

Enjoy!

  • “”Jolly Holiday” – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (from Mary Poppins)
  • “It’s a Good Day” – Peggy Lee
  • “Good Morning” – Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (from Singin’ in the Rain)
  • ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ”Boy in a Rock N Roll Band” – The Pierces
  • “Frim Fram Sauce” – Diana Krall
  • ”Chasing Pirates” – Norah Jones
  • “Lulu’s Pie Song” – Sara Bareilles (from Waitress)
  • “It’s a Wonderful World” – Joan Chamorro, Andrea Motis, Bobby Gordon & Sant Andreu Jazz Band
  • ”Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
  • “Another Day of Sun” – La La Land Cast (from La La Land)
  • “What a Difference a Day Makes” – Jamie Cullum
  • “A Wink and a Smile” – Harry Connick Jr. (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • “Wonderful” – Idina Menzel and Joel Grey (from Wicked)
  • “In a World of My Own” – Kathryn Beaumont (from Alice in Wonderland)
  • “White Winter Hymnal” – Birdy
  • ”City Love” – John Mayer
  • “Goody Goody” – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • “My Sugar is So Refined” – Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
  • ”A Spoonful of Sugar” – Julie Andrews (from Mary Poppins)

 

 

 

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

Postmodern Jukebox

Watch what happens when today’s biggest hits meet Old Hollywood glam! Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox successfully mixes well-known tunes like “Royals”, “Shake It Off”, “Creep” and “Sweet Child O’Mine” with a jazz-flavored syrup, resulting in all-new numbers with a swingin’ vintage sound. It’s like a grand trip to the retro times without ever leaving the present.

The regular artists chosen to collaborate with the band include a roster of American Idol stars like Haley Reinhart, Melinda Doolittle, Casey Abrams and Von Smith plus amazing vocalists like Ariana Savalas, Morgan James and Sara Niemietz. For new listeners, PMJ’s newly released compilation album The Essentials make the perfect introduction. Grab yours in a combo pack featuring an old-fashioned shirt. Or if you’re a vinyl collector, the vinyl version is also offered on the PMJ site.

Below are a few of my top fave PMJ videos…

 

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