The Musical Menu

Posted by in The Lounge

Whether entertaining a crowd of 75 or planning an intimate dinner for two, creating the right ambiance is important for your event to have desired impact. Music, though often taken for granted, is a crucial ingredient for your next gathering.

Having a cocktail party?

Try some of these jazzy, lounge-y selections, some of which might not be familiar. That’s good; introduce your guests to something new, instead of tuning into the same “smooth jazz” station on your radio or cable feed! Of course, any of the selections are perfect for your pre-dinner drinks as well. Get those martini glasses chilled!

  • Dzihan & Kamian – Gran Riserva – Original, fun, tight, and slickly produced jazz/funk/lounge fusion. Occasional vocals keep the mix very interesting.
  • Various – Au Nu Jazz Cafe – French jazz compilation featuring some very up-tempo numbers; esoteric selection will have your guests asking “who’s this?”
  • St. Germain – Lounge Rendezvous – Double disc compilation featuring a nice selection of both up- and down- tempo songs.
  • Various – Den of Thieves – From the geniuses behind Eighteenth Street Lounge, this compilation features a terrific selection of artists that run the gamut from Argentinean soul to polished electronica.
  • Supperclub – Volumes 7 (Cruise) and 8 (San Francisco) – This never-disappointing series continues to bring their impeccable style from Europe to the US. Pop in the dance-oriented disc two (“Le bar rouge”) from each release for some expertly-selected, up-to-the-minute, sophisticated grooves.

To continue your trip with a slightly more worldly vibe, check out these other releases from Supperclub.

  • Nomads – 1, 2 and 3. Inspired by the restaurant of the same name in Amsterdam, these discs present a wide variety of musical tastes from around the world.
  • Supperclub presents One World – The latest in the series compiles over two dozen tracks from the US and abroad, delving into slightly more ethnic and danceable terrain.

Speaking of Supper…

  • You can’t go wrong with disc one (La Salle Neige) from any of the Supperclub series, geared for a lighter tempo, but Volumes 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 are standouts for that perfect background music that won’t detract from your seared ahi.
  • Diana Krall – The Girl in The Other Room – The jazz pianist/vocalist’s latest features original compositions written by herself and husband Elvis Costello.
  • Thievery Corporation – The Cosmic Game – Soothing original electronica blended with cool, funky beats from the Godfathers of Eighteenth Street Lounge.

For that special, romantic dinner for two, slip these in while lighting the candles and pouring the wine:

  • Roxy Music – Avalon – This 1982 classic never tires. A sonic masterpiece featuring Bryan Ferry’s quietly haunting voice.
  • Chris Botti – When I Fall in Love – The latest from Sting’s sax player featuring a guest appearance by Mr. Sumner himself on “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets.” Classic songs get superb interpretation from Botti’s sophisticated, restrained style.
  • Various – Verve Remixed (Volume One) – Classic, updated selections from Verve’s catalog include a sultry remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and an amazing reconstruction of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Wait ‘Till You See Him.” The best of the series; subsequent volumes fail to match the originality of Volume One.

 …and beyond….

After dessert, if you’re in the mood to chill, pour yourself an Armagnac, Cointreau (or just another martini) and reflect on these selections…

  • From the Back to Mine series – Groove Armada, Everything But The Girl, and Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant disc) – This amazing series compiles selections these revered artists would play if they had YOU over for drinks! Groove Armada gives us lots of soul, including Al Green and Barry White, while EBTG takes us on a ride from urban funk to mellow, sparse instrumentals. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant gives us a quiet, reflective collection of ambient, classical and pop, including a track from Dusty Springfield, a PSB favorite.
  • Pink Martini – Hang On Little Tomato – Great follow up to their debut, Sympathique. Quirky, oddly familiar songs range in style from cabaret, jazz, Japanese film scores, and others.
  • Kruder & Dorfmeister – The K & D Sessions – Double disc set of remixed songs by K & D. Sometimes soothing, sometimes bizarre, always cool.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Having a fish fry? Not in the mood to Lounge? Try some of these blues and country numbers.

  • Delbert McClinton – Nothing Personal – This Grammy-winning release will have you hitting “repeat” and singing after ol’ Rita to come back before you know it.
  • Marcia Ball – Presumed Innocent – Rousing, rocking, blues disc from the “Bayou Queen of the piano.”
  • Etta James – Blues to the Bone – The queen of the blues proves she’s still got it, especially on the lead track, “Got My Mojo Working.”
  • Bonnie Raitt – Luck of The Draw – Though almost fifteen years old, this disc still resonates with good old fashioned blues rock.
  • Faith Hill – Fireflies – Eschewing her glamour-girl image for the moment, Faith returns to her country roots.

Of course, musical tastes are as diverse as tastes in food. The suggested items above are by no means relegated to the categories above. Mix ’em up! Approach your musical tastes like you would your food: experiment, add new things, revisit old things, spice things up, cool other things down. Soon you’ll be creating a musical menu that is uniquely yours.