Friday, March 14, 2008

60 great music suggestions for a classy dinner party

Musician and fellow CSW Joe Roberts has some tips for choosing the right music for your next dinner party.

Roberts says that, "whether your guests are future in-laws, business contacts, or good friends, when you're planning a classy dinner party, the choice of music has just as much 'make-it-or-break-it' potential on the evening as your choice of food & wine."

He recommends playing music that follows his 'Rule of the Crowd Pleasers,' providing dinner guests with music that has an approachability that will appeal to the novices, but enough interesting things going on to please the experts in your group.

Some ideas include:

A popular artist performing classy songs outside their normal genre(think rapper Queen Latifah's Dana Owens Album of jazz standards, for example) can appeal to a very wide audience.

Serving Italian food and wine? Check out some of Italy's Baroque composers like Vivaldi and Corelli to go along with it - their music is famous for having a broad appeal, with enough interesting counter-melodies to impress the music buffs.

With a French food and wine pairing, consider playing music by Parisian guitar player Django Reinhardt.

American cuisine and killer Napa wine? Anything from Miles Davis' ballad period is sure to serve you well.

The folks at the forums on the Wine Library website are also jazz lovers. When I mentioned that I was listening to Miles Davis and Coltrane, their suggestions included plenty of dinner party jazz.

Several albums by Miles Davis were highly recommended, including In A Silent Way, Sketches of Spain, Ballads and Blues Master, 58 Stella By Starlight Sessions, My Funny Valentine and Four More and Birth Of The Cool. Davis' Kind of Blue was called an album with the "perfect energy at the beginning of a dinner party."

Theolonius Monk's suggested albums include Monk's Dream, Straight no Chaser and Live @ The 5 Spot.

Stan Getz was recommended for the albums Sweet Rain, Bossa Nova Years and The Girl from Ipanema.

Billie Holiday
- Lady in Satin and Lady Day

Other artists and albums that would play well as background ambiance music at a special dinner include:

Take Five by Dave Brubeck
The Quintet Live @ Massey Hall
Chet Baker- My Funny Valentine
Mingus - Ah Um
Trane - Lush Life or Ballads
The Quintet Live @ Massey Hall
Benny Green & Russell Malone - Live at Jazz @ The Bistro
Kenny Barron & Regina Carter - Freefall
Houston Person - My Romance
The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall 1957
Roy Eldridge in Paris
McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy
Alice Coltrane - Transcendence
Louis Armstrong - Hot House Five
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus
Ben Webster - The Soul of Ben Webster
Coleman Hawkins- Body and Soul
Stanley Turrentine - Sugar
Dave Brubeck – Time Out
George Winston - December
Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love
Diana Krall - The Girl In the Other Room
Denzal Sinclaire - Denzal Sinclaire
Sophie Milman - Sophie Milman
Kenny G - Songs in the Key of G
Sonny Rollins - Sound Of Sonny
Lee Morgan - Sidewinder
Bill Evans - Waltz for Debby
Bob James - Straight up
Grover Washington - Time out of Mind
Keith Jarrett - Standards, Live at the Blue Note
Brad Mehldau - The Art of Trio
Oscar Peterson - Montreux 77
Greyboy Allstars - West Coast Boogaloo
Wynton Marsalis - J Mood
An Evening With Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock
Bobby Enriquez - The Wildman Returns
McLaughlin/Hussain - I Remember Shakti: A Night in Bombay
Michel Camilo - Live at the Blue Note
Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Live at Mt. Fuji
Horace Silver - 6 pieces of silver
Herbie Hancock - Inventions & Dimensions
Johnny Hartman with Coltrane
Count Basie with Joe Williams
Ellington at Newport

Other artists include: John Scofield, Martin Medeski & Wood, Charlie Hunter Trio, Hank Mobley, Getz/Gilberto, The Rippingtons, Tito Puente, Nat King Cole and Richard "Groove" Holmes.

A big Thank You to SierraDoc, ChefJune, half century, leatherpalate, DJA, Steve Jones, Francis S, WinoMoose, Monrovino, Kdawg, GeneV, GlassRunnethEmpty, skipowda, barrelmonkey and many, many more Vayniacs who gave me their suggestions.

Do you play music when entertaining friends? Please add your suggestions in the comments section of this post!

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dp said...

Nope, I don't play any music during our food/wine dinners - it's too distracting for us. We are there to enjoy each other's company and not a bunch lf music that's hard to talk over. :)


kimian said...

Thank you for the comprehensive list! We will indeed need ambient music at our Fund Raiser Gala because we are all there to have great food and have fun in a Casino Night setting at our local Country Club. We are raising funds to support Music and the Arts in our city. We are a choral group, and we don't wish to provide choral music as the main focus throughout the evening. We have 4 music list needs. 1) Social hour/Cocktail hour music, 2) Dinner music 3) short performance by the chorale during dessert, 4) Dance music to please a crowd of 25-80 year old guests, with heavier attendance in the 50-70 year old range. This list helps with lists 1 and 2, 3 is covered and we're working on condensing the #4 list.

Anonymous said...

A CD I found called"Jazz For Wine Tasting" (Moon Cycle Records) also makes a great dinner music CD.

Panamint Joe said...

Dinner music should have the following characteristics:

1. It should be instrumental, not vocal. Vocal recordings, like television, demand attention and make it difficult for people to maintain their train of thought. The human mind is trained to focus on the human voice; make sure the voices on which your guests' minds are focusing are the conversations around the table, not the machine sitting in the corner.

2. The volume should be low, almost subliminal. When dinner guests are engaged in conversation, the music should be drowned out and only come to the foreground when there is a lull in conversation.

jkupetz said...

I know I'm responding to an old blog post, but these suggestions just saved a VERY hectic Easter dinner. Thanks!

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