Recommend some music to add to my "cocktail hour" CD

I’m making a CD of “light cocktail hour” type jazzy tunes. For perspective, the CD will already contain a bunch of Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes. Those are the types of artists I’m looking for. Any suggestions?

Astrud Gilberto
Tom Jobim
Stan Getz
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Mel Torme
Dean Martin
Louis Prima - may be too raucous for “light” cocktail hour

I’m sure I’ll think of more. I love this type of music.

Oh, throw away your compilation, get ahold of this disc, and just play it over and over and over again. You will be blown away by the sheer gorgeousness and cocktail-appropriateness.

Lee Wiley is the ginchiest.

I almost put Billie Holiday on my list, but she seemed more like “late night, everyone else has gone home” type music. I would put Lee Wiley in that same category. I might try Blossom Dearie at cocktail hour, but that’s probably just because of the cartoon voice.

There’s a Billie Holiday disc called “Lady Day Swings” that’s got a lot of uptempo tracks which I’ve played at parties before. It works well, and there’s certainly a few songs on there that would fit a jazzier cocktail hour. (“Let’s Do It,” for one, also “Them There Eyes,” which I think is on that disc). Anyway, any jazz compilation that doesn’t have at least a little Lady Day is deeply flawed.


“Cocktails for Two” by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. :slight_smile:

Great suggestions everyone! I forgot to add that most of Quincy Jones’ “Big Band Bossanova” is on there as well.

::off to sample the suggestions::

Pink Martini – their first album, Sympathique, is the most cocktail-y (they’ve got two albums out).

Esquivel made a career out of this music.

Wanda Sa, Tania Maria, Doris Montero, Vinicius de Moraes with Toquinho and Ornella Vanoni, Walter Wanderley, Gary McFarland, Cal Tjader, Flora Purim and Airto, Eliane Elias, Rosa Passos, Balanco and Nicola Conte and many others on the Schema label, the Espresso Espresso comp, the Mood Mosaic and Easy Tempo comps, I could go on and on but I’ll stop now.

Michael Franks. CD titles to look for Sleeping Gypsy, Tiger in the Rain, The Art of Tea

Maybe a little Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli?

I don’t know much about jazz, but there’s a piece called Take Five that I think would be highly appropriate.

By the Dave Brubeck Quartet, off the album *Time Out * (and probably dozens of greatest hits collections and jazz compilation albums). Great tune, featuring Paul Desmond on the alto sax.

How about Ramsey Lewis, “The In Crowd” - an up-tempo winner every time. Also, for a slower sleepier feel, Phish’s “Lawn Boy”? If you can find a schmaltzy version with good sound quality from their freely-available concert MP3s, you’ll have a winner.

Beth Orton sings a song called “The Sweetest Decline” that might fit the bill, too – also pretty slow.

Pink Martini have just recently made it big, although they’ve been around for a while. They sing (among other songs) “Je ne veux pas travailler” (I don’t want to work) and “Brazil”, which both have good horn accompaniment.

And if you’re looking to get everyone out on the floor, try the theme from Cowboy Bebop by the Seat Belts, called “Tank!” which features a screaming white hot clarinet and some great plucked upright bass. Oh, man, I gotta go listen to that again.

Just an awesome piece of music by composer Yoko Kanno and the Seat Belts. Every note in the arrangement is pure excitement and bliss.

Grazing In The Grass and Sham Time from “Willie Bobo’s Finest Hour” will certainly complement the Quincy Jones tune you mentioned.

I second Cal Tjader, especially the songs Guajira En Azul, Leyte, and Prophet.

Also, check out the CD “Two of the Few” which is the duo of Oscar Peterson on piano and Milt Jackson on vibes. Magical.

For vocals, go with Kenny Rankin. He has all the style , phrasing and sensibilities of Michael Franks sans the too-cute-by-half lyrics.

Instrumental: early (pre Urban Knights) Bob James Trio. Fairly disposable as pure jazz, but still pleasant and non-intrusive as “cocktail” ambience. Much more subtle and stylish than Herb or Sergio.


I’m not sure if this is quite what you’re looking for, but this CD is one of a series: Music for a Bachelor’s Den, Volume 4: Easy Rhythms for Your Cocktail Hour. It may give you some ideas, or perhaps you could just buy the CDs.