Saturday, January 25, 2014

"In My Pursuit Of" - Cruising The Jazz Scene, Literally....

So far in this life,  I have been on 4 cruises, and although I have enjoyed every one of them, I have yet to indulge in a Smooth Jazz Cruise!  All that talent and music at sea for an entire week sounds like my kind of party and of course with stops along the way to visit some of the Caribbeans most beautiful islands or perhaps even the Mexican Riviera, what more do I need.  When I first started hearing about jazz cruises, and did some research, the first thing I thought after seeing the prices, "wow, this is expensive" but then it occurred to me, look at all that is included. Aside from the fabulous food and world class service, these unique cruises are filled with some of the best musicians in the business, entertaining you nonstop day and night.  The meet and greets, photo opportunities, jam sessions, it literally sounds like a larger than life jazz club with great food and music all under one roof at sea!

Ronald Jackson, President and Chief Editor at +The Smooth Jazz Ride  just returned from the 2014 Smooth Jazz Cruise and wrote such an amazing review, it was easy for me to imagine myself right there.  From the time he arrived and throughout his journey on the ship, you could feel the energy from the excited guests and artists/musicians that he writes about. Just imagine smooth, contemporary, Latin, or vocal jazz, and more all on one ship, out at sea for 7 nights.  The smooth sounds of Boney James, the always inspiring and magical performances by Keiko Matsui, the energetic Latin rhythms of Ms. Sheila E, or funky grooves from guitarists such as Johnathan Butler and Marcus Miller, it can't get any better!

I sure imagined it, and found myself as I was reading his review,  just as excited and energized as he must have been writing it; But then that is the beauty of writing about your adventures, you get to re-live it all over again when you tell your story.  So until I sail the high seas again in pursuit of smooth jazz, good food and beautiful ports of call, and of course eagerly share my experience with you, check out this fantastic review for yourself, and who knows maybe you too will be planning your next Smooth Jazz Cruise!

The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2014 In Review - ENJOY!

Monday, January 20, 2014

"In My Listening Booth" with REMY SHAND

"In the Air of the Night" that is the song I thought of while I was looking for any new music by Remy Shand. I know he didn't sing this song, which is a Phil Collins tune,  but I thought of it, because it seems like Remy was here one day with great new music and suddenly he was gone "In the Air of the Night".

How often does someone come along like Remy and gives you music for the soul? Not often and that's exactly what he did in 2002, when we were introduced to his CD "The Way I Feel"..In my opinion, before there was a Robin Thicke, there was Remy Shand.  Straight out of Winnipeg, Canada, this young man did for the R&B sound what was needed, because so many artists had either passed on, left the music scene altogether or the fire was just lost, at least it was for me.

What I liked most about him - he did not come with a entourage, or a GQ style persona, he just came with his good looks, music and soulful sounds. He gave you that sort of, off the beaten path, jazz/blues club impression where, if you were just hanging out with friends, or your significant other, and you wanted to stop at a local spot for a few cocktails, there would be Remy Shand, piping out one of my favorites songs by him, "Take A Message" or "The Way I Feel".

Some artists thrive for the big stage, where thousands of sweaty fans are throwing themselves into a frenzy, but sometimes that is not where you get the best performance from an artist. Often times it's in a supper club, or small music hall, where guests are there for dinner or drinks, a good show and maybe some room for dancing,  Up close and personal performances, and there you have the likes of Remy Shand, Kem, India Arie, or Maxwell and many more like them,

I know crazy things can and do happen in the music industry, and artists have their lives to live while making a career for themselves, but there are so many who embrace us with their unique style of music and then vanish. But here is a guy who not only writes his own music, but also plays his own instruments! Seriously?  Did you gasp? I sure did when I read that.

Where is he you ask?  I've been asking that very same question for awhile now, and rumor has it, he is back in the studio..Emphasis on rumor.  However,  I researched and found a few articles such as this one,

I also did a search on YouTube and found a few things here and there from him; There is a video where he is performing live (from the looks of it, he could be in his studio) and the song is titled "Killing Fields" and it sounds really good;  I sure hope he is working on a new CD and will once again give us the pleasure of hearing his soulful voice again.  Remy if you just happen to read this, We're waiting!

Friday, January 17, 2014

"A Life Less Planned"

The "Bucket List". Yes, ever since that movie starring two of Hollywood's most famous and talented actors took to the big screen to show America how to live life to the fullest and put all of your personal issues aside, and of course that was all due to the fact that they both were terminally ill with a short time to live,  but those two words have appeared in more places than I can count.

So I thought to myself after watching the movie several times, if we created our own "bucket list", it would go on forever, because when I think about it, there are so many things that each of us want to do in this lifetime, but I also asked myself and my husband, do we really want to live our lives according to the "List" or just Wing it?  One does sound far more interesting and adventurous than other.  

Now that doesn't mean that we will go and explore Europe for a month, (retirement is just not within reach yet) or learn how to fly an airplane (although that is pretty darn adventurous) but really, anything that you do in this life outside the normal daily routine of living is quite adventurous and interesting; horseback riding, cooking classes, and so much more that you can just do on a whim.  Yes, doctor appointments and weddings require a schedule (on 2nd thought a wedding can be done on a whim too)!

Of course some things need to be planned, such as 2 big jazz events we are planning to attend in the Spring and Fall, or if we decide to relocate upon retirement, that requires planning (or does it?) but pretty much everything else, we have no idea at this moment. But that is actually not a bad thing.

The Hubby & My Buddy
I am a planner, especially when it comes to planning fun things to do ;  I love the journey that it takes me on and the anticipation that builds up until that big day.  However, some things just don't need to be a planned. Many people live their lives according to "the schedule", and I guess in some instances, it makes them feel more in control of their lives;  I can relate, because I still do to some degree; but as I get older, I am realizing, that daily planner, and smartphone calendar that I have, at times is really cramping my lifestyle.

So for the most part, me and the hubby have decided, for 2014 and hopefully beyond, we are going to wing it through this 2nd half of our life and see where it takes us.  Our kids have been adults for some time now, so we have already entered a new phase of life without report cards and babysitters.

I am actually looking forward to all the new discoveries that will come from "Our Life Less Planned". The journey truly matters so much more than the destination!

Does your life revolve around your daily planner?  Ever felt like throwing caution to the wind and winging it every now and then?  

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans"......John Lennon...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"In My Listening Booth" with the late Phyllis Hyman"

As we begin a new year, I thought I would start it with one of the best voices to ever grace this earth;  If you don't know who she is, give yourself the gift of songs in 2014 and listen to the music of the late,
Ms. Phyllis Hyman....

Not everyone who hears the name Phyllis Hyman will immediately think jazz, but in my opinion, in many ways, her voice was very much a combination of jazz and soul, although on some websites I googled, her music is labeled R&B/Soul others Jazz, but it was very much all of that and more. I love reminiscing about the old school music era and this is one artist of that Era who many, including myself will never forget.

Back in the late 80's, while visiting the Pediatrician with my son, I saw her coming out of the same building that I was about to enter.  There was a limousine waiting for her, and when she came down the stairs of the building, I looked up at her tall frame after realizing who she was, and I thought to myself, "Wow, look at how beautiful she is in person". She was as stunning to look at, as her songs were to hear.  She quickly glanced in my direction and just as I was about to say hello, people who recognized her were starting to gather, and it pretty much killed my moment of saying a personal hello to her, so I just stood and watched as she waved to the crowd.  To sum up what she was and always will be to the music world is to say in one word, Rare.  It is very much like when you are out shopping and stumble across a very unique find, whether it be a bottle of vintage wine, a book, a piece of art or a classic album,  that is what the late Phyllis Hyman was like to the world of music. A rare and unique find.  

Listen to any of her songs, and you will hear sadness, raw emotions, love, joy and poetry. 

There are very few artists today who can combine all of that in a song, and make you feel like it was for you; her voice and lyrics made you literally sit still and listen to the words, but more importantly, perhaps artists of her era often times, were singing about their own personal experiences.  Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Anita Baker, just to name a few.

One of her many songs she sang and one of my favorites, is so chilling while at the same time so emotional is "Living All Alone".   The beauty in that song is, how very true and real it is. That song captures the very essence of loving someone and being lonely.  Not everyone wants to be alone. As she so eloquently put it "Love, I used to know you well."  We all think we know love so well, until it knocks the wind out of us. Many times I believe artists are expressing their innermost feeling through their music, and I believe that with Phyllis Hyman and many others who are no longer with us.  I think it would be hard to put that much emotion in a song without truly feeling and understanding what you are singing,

Here's Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

What are some of your favorite songs from Phyllis Hyman?  Have you ever seen her perform live or met her in person?