Coffee Talk: Java-Inspired Jazz

fromWESA

Linda Richman

hide caption"I'm a little verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: John Coltrane was neither made of coal or a train. Discuss."

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Coffee can lift the spirits, bring people together and serve as a crutch when you just need to sit around and marinate in your own thoughts. Jazz is an excellent foil to coffee, so it's no wonder that so many jazz musicians have been inspired by the brew. Stir up some java and jazz for a perfectly balanced blend with these five caffeinated tunes.

Coffee Talk: Java-Inspired Jazz

Cover for Black Coffee

Black Coffee

  • Artist: Peggy Lee
  • Album: Black Coffee

This smoky Peggy Lee tune invokes the image of a tired diner waitress: "I'm feelin' mighty lonesome / Haven't slept a wink / I walk the floor from 9 to 4 / and in between I drink black coffee." Pull up a chair, listen and leave a generous tip.

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  • "Black Coffee"
  • Album: Black Coffee
  • Artist: Peggy Lee
  • Label: Verve
 
Ladies of Jazz

You're the Cream in My Coffee

  • Artist: Barbara Carroll
  • Album: Ladies of Jazz: Mary Lou Williams & Barbara Carroll [Bonus Tracks]

After that first cup of morning coffee, do you move through your day with the ease of coffee-commercial actors? You know -- the ones who inhale a bit of coffee steam, take a sip of the brew, look toward the sky and suddenly have the vim and vigor to take on the world? If you need an extra kick, try listening to an instrumental version of Mary Lou Williams' take on "You're the Cream in My Coffee," the light, jaunty jazz standard, along with your drink. It ought to brighten your mood considerably.

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  • "You're the Cream in My Coffee"
  • Album: Ladies of Jazz: Mary Lou Williams & Barbara Carroll [Bonus Tracks]
  • Artist: Barbara Carroll
  • Label: Koch Jazz
  • Released: 1951
 
Cover for Strange Place for Snow

When God Created the Coffeebreak

  • Artist: E.S.T.
  • Album: Strange Place for Snow

Some call coffee an "elixir of the gods." E.S.T. must have found the coffee break heaven-sent, as well. This caffeine-fueled piano-trio romp has a complex energy to it that feels driven, spirited and clean. Though the piano is strong and fast, the equally fleet drums and bass (which at times is bowed for a beautiful effect) round out the sound. No added sugar or cream necessary.

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  • "When God Created the Coffeebreak"
  • Album: Strange Place for Snow
  • Artist: E.S.T.
  • Label: Sony
  • Released: 2008
 
Crossroads

Carpe Coffee

  • Artist: Peter Sommer/Rich Perry
  • Album: Crossroads

"Carpe Coffee" pairs up the hearty tenor saxophones of Peter Sommer and Rich Perry backed by a solid, unobtrusive piano trio for a full-bodied sound. This isn't a "tenor titan"-style sax battle, like those popular in the 1950s. The back-and-forth here is a bit more cerebral, but still straight-ahead. The melody could easily be hummed throughout the day to add a bounce to your step.

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  • "Carpe Coffee"
  • Album: Crossroads
  • Artist: Peter Sommer/Rich Perry
  • Label: Capri
  • Released: 2008
 
It's a Wonderful World

Black Coffee Blues

  • Artist: Allan Harris
  • Album: It's a Wonderful World

There's nothing quite like waking up to a lover handing you some coffee with a smile. Allan Harris sings, "It don't take a lot of money to put a smile on my baby's face / But you got to grind her coffee at a slow and easy pace." Hmmm. That might be a different kind of coffee.

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Purchase Featured Music

  • "Black Coffee Blues"
  • Album: It's a Wonderful World
  • Artist: Allan Harris
  • Label: Mons
  • Released: 1995
 

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