Essential Jazz Tunes Every Man Should Know

I love jazz. I love it whether it is new artists or world famous jazz players that are behind the tunes I feel in sync with my heart. Nonetheless, there are some jazz tunes that stick with you. They are timeless, it is like they never age. It may be because their creators managed to glimpse, for a short time, a profound part of what makes the human nature. Or simply because these tunes are so harmoniously balanced that the human ear cannot go without recognizing them, after hearing them for only a few times. I do not necessarily have an answer to this, but I do have something I want to tell you about: the most essential jazz tunes I believe every man should know.
 

 

All Blues – Miles Davis

jazz8One of the tracks on what is considered the most influential jazz album of all times, All Blues is the type of tune that should not need an introduction. I will humbly try to say a few things about this track from the Kind of Blue album, signed by the famous jazz artist Miles Davis. Rumor has it that Miles Davis offered his colleagues the scales and the outlines for the piece just before recording, and the second take was already considered great enough to go on the final album. What makes this tune stand out is the use of blue notes, in perfect harmony with the rest. Blue notes represent notes that are flattened or slightly bent. In All Blues, every seventh note is a blue note, which may be why the tune was named as such.

 

 

All The Things You Are – Charlie Parker

It should be difficult to write a single name under the interpreting artist for this jazz tune, for the simple reason that so many great voices attempted greatness with this one over the years, from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald. Nonetheless, Charlie Parker seems to be the one who set the tune as a jazz standard, and for this, he deserves to have his name written next to this title. For those who want to learn to play it or sing it, the piece is more difficult than it sounds at first hearing. The perfect twisted harmonies that make this tune propelled it to immortality.

 

 

Blue Train – John Coltrane

jazz9A perfect and complete artist, John Coltrane should definitely be on your list of must listen jazz players. Blue Train is a tune that stands out above the rest, mainly because of the saxophone solo that John Coltrane masters to perfection. All those who have listened to Blue Train are in an accord that this tune proves, without a doubt, how intertwined Coltrane’s life was with the music he loved so much.

 

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – Duke Wellington

It seems like a huge injustice to pick just one tune from the majestic Duke Wellington, but, since space constraints do not allow me to launch in a dissertation on the biggest creations of this renowned jazz artist, I had to do it. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) is one of the best known jazz standards in history and it is the one believed to be the first to ever mention the term “swing”, and I personally think that counts for something.

What do I order in restaurants?

I’m not much of an outgoing person, but I do love to have a relaxed dinner now and then with my friends.  My favorite places are those in which you can enjoy a quiet atmosphere and some great jazz music, certainly. Of course, the atmosphere ought to be accompanied by good food and wine.  In such occasions, I usually love ordering simple foods as I see them to be a better match for such an atmosphere. The complicated, intricate and elaborate dishes I prefer experimenting at home on my own or on my friends.

Chinese food is one of my favorite cuisines for a restaurant dinner. One of my top choices and often ordered is the shrimp with lobster sauce dish. This is not only a healthy full meal, but also a low-calorie one, as it doesn’t have more than 500 calories. As a starter, I love the Wonton soup.

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Salads are another dish that I prefer when eating out, especially for dinner. What I adore most about them is that there’s always a new combination you can try from all over the world. Amongst my favorites: Greek salad, Bulgur salad, brown rice and vegetables salad with basil dressing and my all-time favorite: Caesar salad. I also prefer this dish at dinner because it is a light alternative, while it is also tasty and healthy.

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If there’s another food that I’m in love with, that is Mexican food, as it combines color and deliciousness. If I go out to a party or celebration of some kind, I will most likely order Mexican dishes because they seem to me the most appropriate for festive occasions. There are many dishes that I love: fajitas, quesadillas, Mexican chicken, Burritos, chicken tortilla soup and fish tacos. The count could go on forever, but I’ll stop here and just add that I would recommend Mexican food to everyone, as it is wonderful.

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If I ever go out to just chill with friends drinking a beer, I order pizza. I don’t have a particular type that I usually eat, as I like trying new varieties every time, but I do have some favorite pizza ingredients such as cheese, mushrooms and olives.  However, I wouldn’t recommend eating pizza all nights (or most nights), but 2-3 dinners a month will not damage your organism you in an irreparable way.

Even if going out and eating at a restaurant is a pleasurable way of spending your time, I will always prefer chilling at home with my friends that going out. As such, I love arranging my flat in a intimate, but comfortable manner so that anyone can feel at ease there. I have comfortable armchairs and soft chairs and tabourets and I can become quite creative when it comes to food. Therefore, while my friends are relaxing drinking a bottle of wine, I bring them snacks and refreshments. This way, we get to spend time together in a private environment, without worrying that we get too noisy or cheerful.

close up of young couple drinking wine in front of an open wood fire.

In addition, it is also a good way of bringing all my friends together and spend quality time with them, while I play them jazz music. I don’t want to brag, but many conflicts or fights have been solved this way, as people can’t stay mad if the atmosphere around them is pleasant and inspires a positive state of mind.

The hottest jazz female artists of 2016

Jazz isn’t that well-represented in the music industry these days, but there are still a couple of fresh voices that deserve to be mentioned and a little more public recognition. Today, I would like to talk about three female voices that I particularly appreciate and listen whenever I spend a night at home and want to create an intimate atmosphere.

Melody Gardot

jazz 1Her voice was made for jazz, but some of you may have heard her singing other genres as well, as her style encompasses various music. However, she is one of the most well-known female jazz voices of the moment. Melody Gardot started singing in bars at the age of 16, but she started writing her own songs after having been through a car accident, when she was encouraged by doctors to play the piano more to stimulate cerebral activity. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to maintain a sitting position for more than a couple of minutes so she spent her time learning how to play guitar and composing music in bed. Her first album, Worrisome Heart came in 2005, but was internationally released in 2008. Since then, the singer has gained worldwide popularity. Her last album, Currency of man, was released in 2015. Gardot has received many distinctions and was even nominated on two Grammy categories in 2010.

Stacey Kent

jazz 2She was born in New York, and then moved to the UK, where she studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It was there where she met her future husband and began her professional career as a singer in one of London’s cafes. She released her first solo album, Close your eyes, in 1997. Since then, Stacey Kent has released 9 other albums, from which one in French, Raconte moi, well received in France, but also in Germany. She was awarded the National Order of Arts and Letters (L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres) for her contribution to French culture and jazz music. An interesting fact, one of her songs from her live album, Dreamer in concert, from 2011, was composed by her husband, with lyrics signed by the famous writer Kazuo Ishiguro. If you haven’t listened to any of her songs until now, maybe this fact will determine you to. I can assure you, you’ll be mesmerized by her intimate sometimes playful voice and rhythm.

Melanie di Biasio

jazz 3She is not an extremely popular artist and she is definitely less-known to the wider public than the two previous artists mentioned here. However, if you so happen to visit Belgium, you can check if this talented Belgian artist has any concerts scheduled. She is not only an incredible jazz voice, but she also studied ballet since the age of three, and plays the flute and the piano. She has released her first album, entitled A Stomach is Burning in 2007 and, since then, she has mesmerized audiences with her original music style and artistic appearances. These days, you can admire her at several music festivals in Belgium and The Netherlands promoting her latest composition, a 24-minute piece named Blackened cities. De Biasio has not only an impressive voice, but her jazz style mingles various nuances from intimate to mysterious and slow to passionate.

Spending a relaxing evening at home

As I mentioned before, I really enjoy spending my spare time in the comfort of my home with good music and good food to accompany it. But not all evenings are the same, and although it may not seem so, I try to do different things and not become the subject of a routine. My family and I are in a constant search of fun things to amuse ourselves with. We often play the classical charades, and of course, we have a jazz artist recognizing contest. Sometimes, we even go through old photograph albums and laugh at each other’s silly poses. Every now and then my family and I have a movie night, when we gather in the living room, turn on the DVD player and watch our favorite films.

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I think everyone associates movies with the customary popcorn or peanuts but we like to keep our snacks as healthy as they are fast and easy to make. We used to toast bread and make sandwiches but like many of you know, toast bread is not that elastic, and most of the times we ended up leaving a trail of sandwich filling pieces from the kitchen to the living room couch. Another dreadful thing that we had to deal with back then was the fact that if we weren’t quick to put the cheese on the bread, it wouldn’t melt at all, and the sandwich would get cold before we even sat down.

 

WiskeyWe recently got a sandwich maker that made all those irritating issues disappear. Now we have more time for leisure, and the sandwiches are well pressed and warm, not to mention that we can put in a really thick filling. We purchased the Hamilton Beach 25460A model, which is large enough to make two or three sandwiches at a time, so when we finally sit down in front of the screen, the food is still hot and crunchy.

 

So a new tradition formed in our home. We take turns in inventing new and yummy sandwich recipes and I’m really delighted to see how everyone’s creativity help build a comfortable, intimate feeling of relaxation and contentment. No matter how tiresome some of the days are, I always manage to eliminate the stress when I sit to watch “Young Man with a Horn” or “High Society”. Having a crusty, cheesy, freshly made sandwich only adds up to the joy of spending an enjoyable evening at home.

How to make quesadillas like a Mexican

spicyI adore Mexican food. I like the spicy flavors, the colored combinations and the unexpected taste only Mexican food can have. I usually cook anything I can find on the internet. My favorites are dishes that include spicy sauces and are include many condiments. Mexican food allows you to add many aromatic ingredients and flavors to your dish, which really turns food in a colored and tasty festival in one single plate.

masaIt is difficult to decide on one Mexican food that I mostly love cooking, but, it if I were to choose, it would probably be quesadillas. The main reason for which I love them so much, is that you can cook them in a multitude of variants, adding your favorite spices and ingredients. Though the original recipe included a corn masa, filled with Oaxaca cheese that was heated on a comal until the cheese melted, the quesadilla has gained oxacapopularity throughout the years and is now served all over the world, adapted to various geographical areas. Thus, you can enjoy a vegetarian quesadilla, meat quesadilla with sauce and beans, with guacamole and even dessert quesadillas filled with cream of diverse flavors.

However, since the filling of the dough can vary so much from the simple original Mexican dish, what I’ve learnt in time, is that you need a well-made tortilla to achieve the perfect quesadilla. As mentioned, the Mexicans used a comal to make them. This is a flat cooking instrument, similar to a pan or griddle, generally made out of cast iron that Mexicans use for cooking. In older times, these were made with ceramic materials and they were also used at frying coffee beans or cocoa beans.  In Mexican tradition, the comal was passed from mother to daughter as a dowry, and Mexicans believed that the older the comal is, the better it will cook. Lacking this simple, but great at making quesadillas instrument, I was left with no other possibility, but to find a decent replacement.

quesadilla makerAs it turned out, you can easily buy a quesadilla maker or order one over the internet. Generally, such a utensil is built with nonstick surfaces, and is fitted with a locking lid to perfectly toast the tortilla on both sides and to avoid spilling the filling all over the place. In addition, the cooking instrument is divided in a number of sections to allow you to prepare perfectly shaped portions. Depending on how numerous your family is or on how much you love this traditional dish, you can buy it in various sizes. The great thing about them is that they are easily cleaned and you don’t have to worry about the price, most of them, even those manufactured by renowned brands are quite affordable for any pocket.

Even though they are not a comal, they are great at making quesadillas fast and with minimum of effort from your side. I do recommend you buy one that comes with a recipe book, that includes the most famous and tasty quesadillas you can prepare with your new quesadilla maker. Bon appetit!

My Favorite Sunday Brunch Recipe

I would like to show you in this post my favorite Sunday brunch recipe. I know how everyone is busy all week long and does not have the time to sit down and enjoy a meal, but at least Sunday should be the exception to the rule. I personally think that enjoying a great Sunday brunch is the best way to even cheat on a diet without suffering the consequences. Your Sunday will work out just great and you will be able to face a new week armed with everything it takes to handle the world. So, without further ado, here is my favorite Sunday brunch recipe!

Swiss chard potato omelet

I know that many people associate dinner with comfort omlettefood, but frankly, I believe that whenever you have a bit of free time at your disposal and you can afford to cook, you should go for it. I simply love Sunday mornings, because you can be a little lazy and enjoy a late breakfast. With everyone being a bit sleepy and difficult to drag out of bed, I use a simple trick to make them stand up and come running for brunch.

I prepare an omelet! Who doesn’t love omelets? They are so simple to make and there are so many great combinations that it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like omelets at all! Now, I prefer my Sunday brunch omelet to be healthy and filling at the same time, so I prepare a bit in advance by getting all the ingredients.

Since I am cooking for four people, the amounts of ingredients I use are as follows:

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 slices of bread ( for this you can use a toaster from Krups or Oster. Those are the best. I took mine after reading this article on the best 4 slice toasters with retractable cord. Retractable cord is a nice feature, you will like it)
  • 4 cups of thinly sliced Swiss chard (make sure to remove all the stems)
  • 12 ounces of fried potatoes (fry them before you are making the omelet)
  • One clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • One ounce of shredded cheese (choose the type you like, I personally prefer Gruyere)
  • Salt and pepper

This is a very simple, straightforward recipe. First, I fry the potatoes. Since everyone in my house loves French fries, I go for this style. I put them aside, on some tissue, to remove excess oil. Then I whisk the eggs and I mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. I add the fried potatoes when I feel they are as oil free as possible. I prepare the omelet as any other. I can say, hand on heart, than no one in my family wants to miss brunch when I cook this. I hope you will love it just as much.

Introducing Myself

 

Hi dear visitors! My name is Scott Hall and I started this blog with the idea of sharing with you what I know about jazz and how to mix it with your life. I am a big fan of jazz music and I am the kind of person who loves relaxing at home, with a plate of home cooked meal in front and a delicious drink on the side, while soft jazz music plays in the background.

 

jazzIn the hectic world we all live today, it has become quite a luxury to find the time to enjoy the simpler things in life. I have strived for a long time to achieve this kind of peace inside my home, and I hope I do not sound as too self boasting when I say that I think that I have succeeded in obtaining the balance I love to have in my life.

 

This blog will be aimed at sharing with you, the visitor, bits of information on jazz music and its marvels, along with some nice recipes of comfort food that I personally love. I hope you will come to enjoy both as much as I do and that you will find something useful in the posts that I will be writing.

 

There are so many reason I love jazz music that I don’t know where to start. Yet I will try. First of all, jazz is the type of music that never feels repetitive and rehashed like commercial music today feels. I can listen to the same tunes without fearing that I will ever get tired of them. That may happen because jazz is the realm of improvisation. Some of the greatest jamming artists are jazz musicians, and they have honed to perfection the ability to make music on the go, without straying from the melodic pace that makes this genre so addictive.

 

Another thing that makes jazz such a great thing for me is that I can have it playing in the background, while I see about other things, like cooking and eating. Which brings me to the second part of my blog: comfort food. This is something a bit more difficult to explain than why I like jazz music. Comfort food is exactly what its name says: food that gives you comfort. It is food that is so good that it takes you to a place where everything was fine and perfect and safe, like your childhood.

 

But, enough talk for now. Please join me in this adventure of exploring jazz music, comfort food and everything that makes the two go hand in hand like a pair made in heaven. In the meantime you can chill out to this awesome track: