While we go through this unprecedented health crisis, we hope you and your families are healthy! It can be so easy to lose your head and get caught up in the constant news flow. If you’re like us, you’d like to rely on music’s greatest ability – to transform any place or time into something completely different! So, whether you’re feeling melancholic and can’t wait get back out there, or are looking for some tunes to enjoy over a dinner – here’s our list of 5 Records to Soothe the Soul in Times of a Quarantine!
While we’re sure the comforts of your own home in this quarantine environment are pleasing, why not get lost in a few soothing albums? Take this opportunity to revisit a favourite classic album, or discover something new! After all, that’s what we think we’re best at – giving someone something new to listen to! If you like what you see, give our monthly subscription service a try!
5. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Ella & Louis, 1956
Well, if there were ever a sweeter combination of vocals and a more loving cover on an album, it would certainly be this one! This collection of jazz standards and ballads is likely to be performed in a way you’ve never heard before! The loving interplay between Ella & Louis gives the whole album such a warm overtone and a truly comforting theme. Although they’ve both got very different singing styles, they seem to complement one another perfectly.
The record kicks off with the playful Can’t we be friends?, a great tune which at times makes you think was written for these two, and keeps on bringing!
Our favourite on this one remains Cheek to cheek, although it’s tightly contested with They can’t take that away from me. It’s hard to pick one as all of the tracks are just fantastic! A beautiful album for an afternoon lunch break from your work!
4. Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sings, 1954
We’re still undecided as to whether Chet Baker was a trumpet player who sang or a singer who played the trumpet. We all know his playing is incredibly tasteful, but with this debut vocal album he showed us a side we had never seen before. He’s got this incredibly delicate voice which makes his performance of ballads so sweet to listen to.
Although the album doesn’t feature any of Chet’s own compositions and is rather a collection of jazz standards, he puts so much heart into each one that he truly makes them his own.
The album brings with it a pretty broad emotional spectrum. Starting off on the upbeat note of That Old Feeling, it also carries a number of more melancholic songs such as the timeless My Funny Valentine or The Thrill is Gone. Baker does a great job of keeping the listener engaged by giving us different styles as well as mixing between singing and trumpet playing.
We’ve raved about Baker in the past, but while we’re all in a lock-in why not take the opportunity to check out his beautiful documentary – Let’s Get Lost? It’s a beautiful and touching film which we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do!
We like to have this one played over a quarantine dinner, paired up with a glass of wine and a couple of candles lit.
3. Norah Jones
Come Away With Me, 2002
When this debut album first came out, we can remember pretty much everyone raving on about it. Almost 20 years later (holy shit, it’s been 20 years?), it still stands as one of our absolute favourites and we’re sure it will pass the test of time! The daughter of sitar legend Ravi Shankar and Sue Jones, Norah was born in New York but grew up mainly in Texas, where she absorbed the local music as well as her mother’s wide record collection.
She later enrolled in the Booker T Washington school of performing arts, whose alumni include Roy Hargrove and Erykah Badu among many others. By the age of 16 she was already winning a variety of awards, including Down Beat magazine’s Student Music awards in both the jazz vocal and composition categories.
We find this one to be a beautiful crossover album between jazz and pop, with a little bit of country sprinkled on top. Funny enough, most of the songs on the album were written by her band members rather than herself. Either way, our favourite thing about this one is the relaxed and intimate feeling that it creates – perfect if you’re fortunate to be indoors with your significant other.
2. Stevie Wonder
Although we realise most of the albums on our list have a more melancholic feel to them, this is the one we’d really like to groove to. Arguably our favourite of Stevie Wonder’s albums, it’s an absolute masterpiece. If you forget the lyrics for a moment, musically its fantastic and shows off why Stevie was seen as an absolute whizz kid. At the time of recording this album, he already had a few albums to his name at the young age of just 23.
Add the lyrics in, and this quickly becomes one of the smartest, influential and powerful social critiques of the 70s. With drugs, racism and poverty rampant in the inner cities throughout the US, this album was able to bring songs like Living for the city and Higher Ground, which would become anthems and timeless masterpieces reflecting the reality of the time.
Anyway, what’s that got to do with quarantine? Put on Higher Ground and see if you can help moving, shaking and grooving to it! It’s one of the most infectious tunes and every once in a while, you need a quick fix of that Motown soul and that what this album brings!
1. Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
If we’re relying on music’s ability to transform a place, why not let it be the warm, sunny beaches of Brazil? Getz/Gilberto is likely to be Bossa Nova’s finest moment – it’s the incredible achievement of bringing together the singer/guitarist Joao Gilberto and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim with Stan Getz in New York.
What is Bossa Nova, you ask? Translated literally it means “new wave” – a fusion which combined Brazilian samba rhythms with the harmonic sophistication and subtlety of mid-’50s cool jazz. Whereas the majority of music in Brazil being played at the time was more “loud” and “active”, Bossa Nova brought with it a sense of airy cool.
We’ve talked about the incredible saxophone tone of Getz before, in fact he’s part of our Jazz / Soul April Records of the Month – check it out if you haven’t already! Getz’s playing of Jobim’s compositions is complemented perfectly by the soft singing voice of Gilberto. His voice provides such a comforting feeling – it’s one of those things where you don’t know the language that he’s singing in but try to repeat the words and let your imagination run wild!
Filled with some of the finest and most well know Latin jazz tunes, we feel that every song is better than the next on this masterpiece! In fact, this was the first jazz album to win the Album of the Year Grammy back in 1965! Not a bad achievement, right?
It’s the perfect soundtrack to a sunny afternoon or even for an evening over a dinner. No matter which you pick, we hope you’ll join us at our cabana on the beach, sipping caipirinhas!