*The Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel, home to the Montrose Room, is offering discounted room rates for those attending this show. Book a room, stay 'til the very last note of the final encore and don't worry about having to make the drive home! For information, click here.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Brian Culbertson's latest hit, "Horizon."
Watching the commercials for Keira Knightley’s new movie, Begin Again, made me think. She has added herself to the list of actresses who really do sing, playing an ingénue singer named Greta, who becomes the project of Dan Violet (played by Mark Ruffalo). There are even a couple of scenes with Celo Green, so if you want, we can use him to start the male version of the list.
If you want to go way back in the crossover of acting and Jazz, Judy Garland comes to mind. Hollywood restricted her to show tones and happy songs, but she still did a great job when she was allowed to do things with more jazz overtones, like "As Long As He Needs Me" or "The Man That Got Away."
Billie Holiday was approached to do the movie Showboat, but she declined. Pity, because I love adding her to any list I am making. And wouldn't it have been marvelous to see her in that antique setting? But the roundabout way to do it is to add Diana Ross for starring in Lady Sings the Blues, the imperfect fictionalized bio of Billie’s life. I’m happy now.
The Fabulous Baker Boys featured Michelle Pfeiffer as a confused chanteuse who comes in to save the act and ends up causing conflict between the brothers. She actually sings two songs, "Making Whoopee" and "My Funny Valentine," rather well. Torchy and sensuous.
Gweneth Paltrow did a duet of Smokey Robinson’s "Cruisin’" with Huey Lewis back in 2000. Made it to Number 1 on the adult contemporary chart, stayed there for a week, too.
Need I mention Whitney Houston did it? We all loved her in the Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale. There is so much to write about her I can't manage it all in one list, but trust me, she will not be ignored.
Madonna can switch gears like a Lamborghini. From Desperately Seeking Susan to League of Their Own to Die Another Day, she’s crossing acting and singing genres all the time. She even slips into the smooth jazz genre on occasion.
Then there's Jennifer Lopez. She’s been more than a double threat most of her career because she started out dancing on the Waynan’s television show, In Living Color.
And lastly, I want to talk about Jill Scott. She did an entire series for HBO called The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. With Anika Noni Rose, she plays Precious Ramotswe. They solved crimes in Botswana. Filmed on location, with actors from the region, she plays a woman who helps others but has to wrestle with her former relationship with a jazz trumpeter. If you don’t watch more than the first eleven minutes you get to hear her sing for a few seconds.
I'm sure that there are more ladies who sing and act, but they don’t come up on jazz station playlists or in my memory. But if you know of a few, let me know.
(Note from Rick O'Dell: Please join me in welcoming Lydia Barnes to SmoothJazzChicago as our primary columnist/blogger. Lydia's passion for the music dates back to the early '90s, and we're pleased to be able to present her unique view of happenings--not just music-related!--in our world. You'll find the rest of her writings at her site.)
Before flying east for the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, the Joey DeFrancesco Trio will honor us with a touch down on Friday, August 1st. Playing Evanston S.P.A.C.E. with drummer and Chicago native George Fludas, guitarist Jeff Parker and his trusty Hammond B3, Joey is sure to deliver a sweet treat for jazz lovers. If you’re a fan of the rich tones the B3, this is the show for you. Whether they’re slowing down Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" to making her extra jazzy, transforming Bobby Hebb’s "Sunny" from a 1960s pop icon into a new millennium jazz diva, or making the theme to the Godfather into audio honey, Joey will makes his B3 a killer B!
Check out his website. To hear all the cuts mentioned above, click the media tab and choose video. He has full length songs posted. His latest release is called Enjoy the View and with him at the keyboard, I’m sure we will.
No babysitter that night, no problem. The S.P.A.C.E. is open to fans of all ages! Don’t miss it, because he heads back to his hive until December 7 when he ventures out again. But not to Chicago, the closest he will come will be Columbus, Missouri.
Longtime Smooth Jazz fan and loyal listener Tom Campeggio just got back from his weekend at the beautiful Osthoff Resort. He sent us this note:
Well, it was a great weekend at the Osthoff Resort. The music, food, wine were all very good. The Rick Braun/Richard Elliot was rocking, shall we say. Had some people dancing in the aisles, or up and pointing their fingers to the sky with the music. Both Richard and Rick mentioned about their CDs, so during the concert I snuck down and bought all three of them they had brought along. The BWB, Summer Horns, which I did not know Richard was on and then the one CD they both made together in 2007, the R N R one. The Steve Cole show was nice as well, although Nancy preferred the night before. We got to the hotel about 7:00pm as we stopped in the Milwaukee area to get dinner on the way. It really was a nice time and can’t thank you enough again for this.
Thomas Campeggio |Controller Combined Resources, Inc.
Mr. Campeggio was the grand prize winner in the "Jazz on the Vine" giveaway we did in February on SmoothJazzChicago.net.
They're already making plans for the 2015 event. Plan on attending next year. It's definitely worth the drive from Chicago!
Terrestrial radio. Over-the-air radio. Standard radio. Traditional radio. Conventional radio. Whatever you choose to call it, it's the radio we all grew up listening to. No special equipment required. And . . .
I am thrilled to announce that our favorite music returns to this type of radio this weekend! On 90.9 FM WDCB. Beginning this Sunday, February 9, I will be hosting The Sunday Jazz Brunch on WDCB each weekend from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
What can you expect from the new Sunday Jazz Brunch? For starters, you'll hear quite a few artists who've made Sunday mornings a special place for us over the years on our other Sunday Brunch shows: Ramsey Lewis, George Benson, David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr., just to name several. We'll also feature a special "Chicago Music" segment each hour, showcasing artists from Chicago or based in Chicago.
Since WDCB is primarily a jazz station, the new Sunday Jazz Brunch will favor that particular genre in both the instrumental and vocal content of the show. As always, however, I'll be choosing music based on how well it fits that uniquely intimate Sunday mood.
I invite you to give the new show a try and let me know what you think. Address your comments, suggestions and requests to me at WDCBSundayJazzBrunch@gmail.com.
(By the way, if you've gotten used to listening to radio through your computer or HD Radio, The Sunday Jazz Brunch is also available on WDCB 90.9 HD-1 and streaming on www.WDCB.org. And the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch will continue to air on www.SmoothJazzChicago.net from 6am to 6pm Central each weekend.)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Ramsey Lewis will officially launch The Sunday Jazz Brunch with this tune.
I know it's hard to imagine with the winterscape outside the window right now, but the time will come when you're going to want to get in the car and go for a nice, long drive. Mother's Day Weekend 2014 holds the promise of another fantastic lineup of live music at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
As in past years, the Osthoff's 12th annual "Jazz on the Vine" festival is brimming with smooth sounds and incredible talent. Here's the lineup:
Friday, May 9
Darren Rahn (5:15pm) (Darren's also the host of the event)
RnR (Richard Elliot & Rick Braun) 9:15pm
Saturday, May 10
Urban Jazz Coalition (1:45pm)
Steve Cole (3:45pm)
Global Noize - Sly Reimagined (with Nona Hendryx and Andy Snitzer) (6:00pm)
Chieli Minucci & Special EFX (8:30pm)
Sunday, May 11
Jazz Brunch featuring Marcell Guyton (10:00am-3:00pm)
Throughout the weekend, guests will also have the opportunity to sample over 100 wines from international and domestic vineyards. Dining at the Osthoff is also a memorable experience, with eclectic and sophisticated cuisine created by their award-winning chefs.
Dozens of Chicagoans make the two-and-a-half-hour drive to beautiful Elkhart Lake each year for "Jazz on the Vine." Ask anyone who's been there before. It's well worth the trip!
For more information, click here or call (877) 496-4113. Weekend packages sell out quickly, so it's always a good idea to make reservations as soon as you can.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Steve Cole, always a treat to catch live for the music and the one-liners!
In addition to being able to listen to SmoothJazzChicago.net anywhere in the world on internet with your computer, smart phone, or tablet, we are excited to announce that Chicagoans can now listen to Smooth Jazz Chicago without an internet connection. We are now on WTMX 101.9 HD2! By pairing our new signal with an HD radio, we hope to provide listeners with another way to take your favorite smooth music with you on the go.
HD (hybrid digital) radio provides a CD quality simulcast of many traditional AM and FM terrestrial radio stations plus addition new “sub stations” which feature content that cannot be picked up on an analog terrestrial radio. Like traditional terrestrial radio, no subscription fee is required to listen to any of the stations. Smooth Jazz Chicago’s new terrestrial radio home, WTMX 101.9 HD2 is one of these stations. When using an HD radio, first tune to 101.9FM and then wait a few seconds for the HD signal to lock in. On most HD radios, a small indicator light with the HD radio log will appear on the screen. Once the HD signal is locked in, turn the tuning knob or button up once to receive WTMX 101.9 HD2 Smooth Jazz Chicago. Additionally, the song and artist titles should appear on your HD radio’s screen.
(When you have access to an internet connection, I still highly recommend using it to listen to Smooth Jazz Chicago on computer by visiting SmoothJazzChicago.net, on smart phone or tablet using our free custom apps available in the App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play store for Android devices, or an internet radio for the most optimal and reliable signal and audio quality when compared HD radio.)
While HD radio has been around for over ten years, it is still in its infancy in many respects. The key advantage of HD radio is that you are not required to subscribe to a cellular data connection in order to listen on the go. Over the past few years, more and more automakers have been integrating HD radios in the dash on their new vehicles. Click here for a list of new vehicles that offer HD radios as either standard equipment or as an available option. A handful of automakers, including BMW and Volkswagen, have offered HD radios in their vehicles for at least the past five years. Check your owner’s manual or consult your dealer to see if your car may already be equipped with an HD radio. At the moment, other HD radio offerings for at home or on the go are limited but growing. For more info please visit the Official HD Radio website.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email!
(It's Rick O'Dell. Let me jump in here with an additional request. If you currently have an HD radio--portable, tabletop or in-car--please send us an email and let us know how satisfied you are with it. Please be honest because your experience with HD will serve as a guide to others who are in the market for an HD radio right now. I'll include listener comments in our next blog on this subject. Thanks. My email: SmoothJazzChicago@gmail.com)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: From his solo debut The Nightfly here's one of my all time favorite musicians, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan (who celebrated his birthday on Friday, January 10th) with "I.G.Y."
Chris Botti has delivered many a magical performance in front of a Chicagoland audience over the years. This past Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre was another one, according to one of our longtime loyal listeners:
I want to thank you one
more time for the tickets to the Chris Botti concert. It was incredible.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was the best concert I've
ever attended. From the first moment to the last, everything was
fabulous. This was my first time at the Star Plaza. The
theater was nice and there was plenty of free parking.
Chris Botti was such a warm and funny person. He was very engaging
and related well with the crowd. He even invited a couple of
enthusiastic fans in the mezzanine to come down to the main floor. Chris
is the type of talented person I enjoy seeing - someone who is so
secure in his ability to entertain the crowd that he freely shares the
stage with others equally as gifted as he is. His special guests were
fabulous. The violinist was top notch and made her instrument sing. The
female vocalist had a terrific voice and lit the stage with her
presence. The male vocalist had the unenviable task of singing parts in
"Italia" and "Time To Say Goodbye" made famous by Andrea Bocelli. He
did quite nicely.
The back-up band was out of this world. I hesitate to call them
back-up because they were outstanding in their own right. The pianist
was fabulous, the guitarist and bass player were electric, the
keyboardist was wonderful, and the drummer was dynamic. I could have
listened to them play all night.
After the concert ended, Chris stuck around to sign CDs. By the
time I got to the counter selling CDs, they were almost out. The line to
see him was so long that we didn't stick around. Maybe next time.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Chris' stunning interpretation of "Emmanuel," which was described by another listener who attended the show as "now my all-time favorite Chris Botti tune."
I'm looking forward to being back at the Parrot Cage Restaurant on Sunday, October 13, for the next Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch. Our special guest will be a rising star of Smooth Jazz from the Chicago area, keyboardist/composer Scott Allman.
Our Brunch will serve as the official CD release party for Scott's new project, Next Stop Home. You've probably heard his new track, "Lane's Cove," which we recently added to the SmoothJazzChicago.net playlist.
Scott will be performing two sets, one at each seating. We'll get to hear him playing tracks from his new CD as well as his 2011 debut, Generations.
There are just two Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunches left for 2013. We hope you'll join us in the one-of-a-kind setting of the Parrot Cage inside the historic South Shore Cultural Center for the next one. Seatings are at 11:00am and 1:30pm. To make a reservation, please call (773) 363-1902.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: The uplifting first single from Next Stop Home, "Lane's Cove," as heard on SmoothJazzChicago.net.
Peter White was part of the star-studded lineup at the 2001 Smooth Jazz Awards at the Chicago Theatre.
Here's Part II of YOU ASK, I ANSWER, featuring questions submitted by Kathleen Gregory of Lockport. (Part I is here.)
8. How do you know all the tidbits of
information (e.g., artist factoids) you share with us?
Just about everything I use
comes from sources everyone has access to--the internet, mainly. But I do the searching for you! Record
labels still send out one-sheets on the artists with most CDs, so I'll rely on those also.
9. How can you tell if a song is popular with
our listeners? Is that different from listeners around the country?
For thirty years I was
lucky enough to work for stations that prioritized music research. That
was an essential tool in the decision making process for choosing which titles to play. At WNUA we had test scores
for over a thousand smooth jazz titles going back to the late
'80s. Having been involved with music testing for many years, I can usually tell which tracks will work with our audience.
And, yes, Smooth Jazz listeners in Chicago do have different
preferences than, say, listeners in Los Angeles.
10. Is there a way you can tell how many
listeners the station has? In Chicago area? Around the country? I listen on my Kindle and not a computer--does that make a difference in tracking?
Yes, yes, yes and
no. Our stream provider, Triton Digital, gives us access to specific
audience metrics--every ten minutes of every day, in fact. But we are not able to separate out the different
devices where each individual stream request is coming from--not for now, anyway.
11. Is there a system that tracks popularity of
internet radio stations? If so, how do they compare with terrestrial stations?
How does our station compare with other internet stations?
Triton Digital also
provides monthly ratings, but they're national--not local--numbers. Since
most internet stations are national (and global) and terrestrial stations are
local, comparing Triton's numbers for the internet with Arbitron's numbers for local stations are apples-to-oranges.
SmoothJazzChicago.net is one of the few internet stations targeting one
specific geographic area, the Chicago metro area. Our numbers aren't close to what we had in the heyday of WNUA, but our
audience has grown every month since we launched. Give us time.
12. Do you plan to simulcast on television?
I'm assuming you're asking if we're going to be installing a webcam. Not anytime soon. Who'd want to watch someone who's basically just staring at a computer screen anyway?
13. I hear smooth jazz all over the place.
We even heard it on our cruise. Is there a way to find out if it is as
popular as ever with listeners.
That's difficult to
measure. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence around to say that, yes, it
is. Smooth Jazz-themed cruises, for instance, are big business today. Plenty of
new artists are coming down the pipeline. And here in Chicago, 2013 will
go down as a very strong year for Smooth Jazz concerts. Realistically
speaking, however, it's safe to say Smooth Jazz reached its peak of
popularity--at least on conventional radio--between 2000 and 2002. This is how a friend of mine who's a concert promoter put it: "Smooth Jazz is like [the pro sport of] ice hockey. It'll never be the number one spectator sport, but there will always be a significant number of people who like it."
14. Lisa McClowry has decided to go country. Is
this a sign of things to come? Are other smooth jazz artists choosing
other types of music? Are new artists coming to smooth jazz?
Lisa made an unusual
decision with her career. And it's easier to shift gears like that when
you're a singer. If you're an instrumental artist and want to cultivate a
solo career, your paths are limited--to pop, Smooth Jazz and traditional jazz,
mainly. I wish Lisa all the best with her new direction. She's always welcome to come back to our world. And, to answer the last question, we've had no shortage of new artists in 2013. I'd call that a positive sign for Smooth Jazz.
15.There are international smooth jazz awards.
Was smooth jazz as popular in other countries as it was in the U. S.? Are other
countries suffering from the same lack of terrestrial stations?
During the heyday of
Smooth Jazz, there were successful stations (or Smooth Jazz channels) in
Canada, Great Britain and Japan. I don't think there are many Smooth Jazz
outlets left on terrestrial radio anywhere in the world, sadly. The music is thriving on the internet, however.
16. Would you consider having the lunchtime
listener requests even when there is no prize? Personally, I would be happy
just to hear my selections and think others would feel the same.
I'd be happy to do a
request or dedication feature at lunchtime, but I think having a prize makes it
much more fun. I'd rather do it when we have something to give away. We try to have a prize every week.
17. I know with all the
songs that are made and become hits, there must be some that you like
more than others. Do you ever play songs you personally don't like?
Everyone who's ever been on the air will gladly tell you--off the air, of course--about the songs and artists they play but can't stand. Ramsey Lewis hated Paul Hardcastle. The late Yvonne Daniels would wince whenever she saw a Candy Dulfer tune on her playlist (and boy, would I get an earful during my brief stint as the producer of her morning show whenever she had to play "Lily Was Here"). As for me, there are some vocals we play that will never make my favorites list. There aren't many instrumental hits I have a problem with, though. I love instrumental music in general. And most people know I'm
partial to the piano, so any tune featuring a piano playing the melody
generally catches my ear right away.
18. On my Kindle, I notice that when I go to smoothjazzchicago.net,
other stations pop up as ones I might like. I was curious to see if your
station pops up when I listen to one of them. It doesn't. Is that
because our station is in my favorites? If not, is there a way to make
our station show up for people tuning into other stations? I'm sure
they would prefer ours.
Since I don't have a Kindle, I forwarded this question to our Tech Advisor, Danny Rigoni (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is his answer:
I have played around with the Kindle, especially after all of the
questions we've had about listening to SmoothJazzChicago.net on the
device, but I do not have one personally. When reading Kathleen's
description, I think the related stations she is mentioning can be found
through two interfaces. The first would be if she is searching for the
station through Google or another search
engine. However, if she were to follow through to the link for
SmoothJazzChicago.net in the Kindle's browser, the only way she would be
able to listen to the station is through downloading the direct stream
each time. Considering that this is a rather complex process, my guess
is that she is using the TuneIn Radio app to listen to the station on
her Kindle. When listening to a station in TuneIn on my iPhone, if I
swipe to the right, the app recommends similar stations. Additionally,
TuneIn recently launched a new "Live" page that comes up when you launch
their app on any device, including an iPhone, Android, or Kindle. This
page has the intention of helping listeners discover new stations, and it
generates results based onf a listener's past selections and search
results. Furthermore, based on the results the app gives me on the "Live" page,
their algorithm for generating recommendations is not exactly unbiased
or entirely generated based off of a listener's
choices or habits. In reality, its results skew towards recommending
Sky.FM online stations or big radio owned terrestrial stations, which
makes me think that the "Live" page and recommended stations are controlled to a large extent by paid ads.
I want to thank Kathleen for some quality questions. Is there anything you would like to know? Drop me an email to the address below.
~Rick O'Dell (FmAm1@aol.com)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Lisa McClowry casts a spell with her video of the enchanting song "Come Dancing."