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My Christmas music playlist December 24, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Christmas, Jazz, Music, Personal.
2 comments

In the past (here and here), I’ve talked about my collection of jazz and new age Christmas albums. I’ve continued to add as new albums come out or I rediscover songs on the albums I already have.

The time has come to share what songs are currently in my Christmas music playlist, which I curated in iTunes. There are 329 songs combining for 21 hours, 26 minutes, and 52 seconds of listening. Here is the playlist, over 14 screencaps (click on them for full size):

I usually listen to the playlist twice. The first pass took me a few weeks. The second pass should be quicker since I’ll be playing it at a Christmas Eve party and at home on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good listen.

10:15 AM UPDATE: I duplicated the playlist so it would appear in a different form. That way, you can see full titles and artist names. Rather than take screencaps again, I made a video recording, set to “Snow Bells” by Ficara:

The parenthetical “MC Edit” and “remastered” mean I edited the files in Adobe Audition. The edits involved removing the first few seconds of a song, fading out the end of a song that led into the next track on the original album, or improving the sound quality.

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Expanding my Christmas album collection again December 17, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Christmas, Jazz, Media, Music, New Age, Personal.
2 comments

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2014 Christmas presents prior to unwrapping

Two years ago, I wrote about my love of Christmas music, which I incorporated into an extensive iTunes playlist. I listed all the albums I had compiled prior to 2013 and the albums I added that year. Last year, I updated the original post:

12/21/14 UPDATE: This year’s additions to my collection were A Smooth Jazz Holiday compiled by Nu Groove; Grover Washington, Jr.’s Breath of Heaven: A Holiday Collection, and A Soulful Christmas from Brian Culbertson. Tracks from those three albums, plus additional tracks from albums I already had, increase the duration of my iTunes playlist to 13 hours and 34 minutes!

This year, three new Christmas albums came out and I didn’t hesitate to pre-order either of them on Amazon.com. A pair of men named Kim released their albums in October. Kim Pensyl’s Early Snowfall was released on October 2 while Kim Waters’ My Gift to You came out two weeks later. Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band released A Big Phat Christmas WRAP THIS! on November 6. I added to the Christmas Music playlist three tracks from My Gift to You, eight from …WRAP THIS!, and nine tracks from Early Snowfall.

But that wasn’t all. About a year ago, my girlfriend gave me several Dave Koz albums, including A Smooth Jazz Christmas (Dave Koz & Friends) and December Makes Me Feel This Way. I didn’t take the time to listen to those albums until March. There were plenty of gems to be found, including a Hanukkah song (“Eight Candles”). Six songs from those albums were added to the playlist.

And just yesterday, I bought the instrumental tracks from David Benoit’s 2 In Love and Believe albums. I added “Guaraldi Medley” from Believe to the playlist.

Those 27 tracks, along with more material from the albums I already had, added another four hours and two minutes to the playlist; 17 hours and 36 minutes overall.

So far, the only person to hear my playlist this year is me. Since Thanksgiving, whenever I’ve gone for a run, or when I want to drown out music I don’t like in a store or restaurant, I listen to the playlist on either my iPod or iPhone. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I’ll share my playlist with family and friends, as I do every year.

Merry Christmas to all.

Fourplay at the Blue Note December 3, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Christmas, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
2 comments

I was at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village on Thursday night to see contemporary jazz group Fourplay perform. It was the third of six nights at the legendary venue, which they called their Blue & Silver Holiday Celebration. Each night had an 8:00 show and a 10:30 show. I was there for the 8:00 show.

I left my house in Wantagh at 4:00, walking about 20 minutes to the Wantagh LIRR station. From there, I boarded the 4:27 train bound for Penn Station.

Once at Penn, immediately walked to the Subway station and took the A train, as in the Duke Ellington song, downtown to West 4th Street. I ascended the stairs at West 3rd and walked a quarter block to Blue Note.

I arrived at 5:40, waiting outside until the doors opened at 6:00. I took this picture while I waited:
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After I was let in and I checked my coat, I chose a table facing center stage and sat at the closest seat to the stage.

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After dinner and dessert, it was time for Fourplay.

The band is made up of Bob James on piano and keyboard:
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Nathan East on bass and vocals:
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Chuck Loeb on guitars and background vocals:
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It’s Chuck’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, Chuck.

And Harvey Mason on drums:
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Unfortunately, I couldn’t see Harvey from my seat, but I did get this shot of him when he stood up as he and the band introduced each other:
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Fourplay is celebrating 25 years as a band, the silver anniversary. That’s why their latest album is entitled “Silver.” A few songs from the album were incorporated into the set list, as you’ll see below:

1. Angels We Have Heard On High
Originally heard on: “Snowbound,” 1999

2. December Dream
Originally heard on: “Esprit de Four,” 2012

3. Max-O-Man
Originally heard on: “Fourplay,” 1991

4. Chant
Originally heard on: “Between the Sheets,” 1993

5. Quicksilver
Originally heard on: “Silver,” 2015

6. Horace
Originally heard on: “Silver,” 2015

7. Silverado
Originally heard on: “Silver,” 2015

8. Silver Streak
Originally heard on: “Silver,” 2015″

9. Bali Run
Originally heard on: “Fourplay,” 1991

10 (Encore). Between the Sheets (The Isley Brothers cover)
Originally heard on: “Between the Sheets,” 1993

The rest of this recap contains various shots of each band member. We start with Bob James:
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Nathan East:
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Chuck Loeb:
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Harvey Mason:
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Nate and Chuck:
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Shots from the encore: “Between the Sheets”:
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Nate thanked the audience:
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And the last note was played:
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I had a blast at this show. I was into every note of every song. Thank you to Bob James, Nathan East, Chuck Loeb, and Harvey Mason for a fantastic night of music. And thank you to Ken Freeman for his masterful mixing. The audio levels were just right – not too loud, not too soft – and each instrument was in tune.

Happy Silver Anniversary to all!

I’ll leave you with a few pictures I took at West 4th Street Station while waiting for an uptown A train back to Penn Station:
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Downtown A train:
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Audiobooking 2: Listen Up! November 12, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Basketball, Blu-ray, Christmas, Comedy, Commentary, DVD, Film, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, TV, Video.
1 comment so far

Early last December, I listed all the audiobooks I had listened to while working out between June and the day I wrote the post. I said “there [would] be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead.” This follow-up post will list those books, all of which I listened to on Audible.

Since my misadventure with Dick Cavett’s left-leaning book collection of New York Times blog posts, I’ve only listened to apolitical or right-leaning audiobooks.

From last December to now, here is what has guided me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom:

I have many more audiobooks I plan on listening to between now and the next post, whenever that will come. Just today, I started Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes’ book on Jack Kemp. It’s called Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America. After that, I’ll move on to the another Rush Revere book: Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Then, a series of autobiographies should keep me occupied through the summer. Until next time…

Expanding my Christmas album collection December 11, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Christmas, Jazz, Media, Music, New Age, Personal.
3 comments

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Christmas Night in 2010

For over 25 years, the holiday season is my favorite time of year. One reason for that is the music; sans vocals.

In my formative years, The Weather Channel would replace their regular Local Forecast (later, Local on the 8s) playlist for most of December with instrumental Christmas songs. Over the years, viewers heard excerpts from Christmas albums by David Benoit (Christmastime, Remembering Christmas), Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel (The Gift), Mannheim Steamroller (Christmas), Chet Atkins (East Tennessee Christmas), Vince Guaraldi (the soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas), and compilations put together by Narada (The Narada Christmas Collection, … Volume 2) and GRP (A GRP Christmas Collection, GRP Christmas Collection II, …Collection III).

Between 2002 and 2009, I bought those albums and compiled them onto personal CDs to play at Christmas parties and at my house on Christmas Day. I even bought albums with music not played on The Weather Channel. Those include Russ Freeman (Holiday), Craig Chaquico (also Holiday), Kim Waters (Home for Christmas), Peter White (Songs of the Season, Peter White Christmas [with Rick Braun and Mindi Abair]), Ken Navarro (Christmas Cheer), Nelson Rangell (All I Hope for Christmas), Bob James and Hilary James (Christmas Eyes), Plan 9 (The 9 Days of Christmas), Fourplay (Snowbound), and Spyro Gyra (A Night Before Christmas).

Last year, I took a big digital step and made an iTunes playlist for my iPod, which took the place of the CDs at future parties and Christmas Days. Last week, I decided to take another big step and expand my Christmas album collection even further. I bought four Windham Hill albums (The Carols of Christmas, A Windham Hill Christmas, …Christmas II, …The Night Before Christmas), two Boney James albums (Boney’s Funky Christmas, Christmas Present), another GRP album (Making Spirits Bright: A Smooth Jazz Christmas), and one by John Boswell (Festival of the Heart). My favorite song so far on those albums is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by saxophonist Richard Elliot. I’ve heard many arrangements of that tune, but never with the Jeff Lorber sound. Jeff arranged Richard’s rendition with Steven Dubin. (12/20 UPDATE: Inspired by Music Choice’s smooth jazz channel, I made one more purchase: Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm’s The Very Best of Christmas.  My favorites thus far are U-Nam’s rendition of “This Christmas,” and Gregg Karukas’ cover of “The Christmas Song.”) (12/21 UPDATE: Further inspired by a post on Smooth Jazz Magazine’s Facebook page, I bought an MP3 album: the instrumental version of Peggy Duquesnel’s All I Ask for Christmas.) (12/21/14 UPDATE: This year’s additions to my collection were A Smooth Jazz Holiday compiled by Nu Groove; Grover Washington, Jr.’s Breath of Heaven: A Holiday Collection, and A Soulful Christmas from Brian Culbertson. Tracks from those three albums, plus additional tracks from albums I already had, increase the duration of my iTunes playlist to 13 hours and 34 minutes!)

‘Tis the season for great music, great joy, and gratefulness.  With the purchase of eight additional albums (plus five since this was originally posted), I have more music to share with my friends and family every year.