· By Jarritt Sheel
Behind the Playlist: Smooth Horn Blues
Inspiration for: The Smooth Horn Blues Playlist
Drinking Coffee is a personal ritual, much like listening to and playing music is for me. Both coffee and jazz are part of my daily routine, and both uniquely help me become more centered to take on the rest of the day. When I became a part of this wonderful company, Three Keys Coffee, I was charged with helping to tie coffee to the Jazz world, which I’ve lived in for the past couple of decades.
The playlists are a means to merge the drinker (fans of coffee), and the listener (fans of jazz) into a holistic multi-sensory experience. We have received a lot of favorable feedback about the playlists and so I thought I would share some of the inspiration behind one of our most popular coffees, our Honduras “Smooth Horn Blues”
The secret is, that I am a huge fan of all the music that I insert into the playlist. I am often given a name for the coffee roast, a point of origin - country/place, and a description of the taste components of the coffee variety. From there we hash out a schematic, that we tag with big names and ideas. I follow up with intense listening for a couple of days before perfecting the combination and string of songs.
But interestingly it wasn’t the years of academic training or the time working with the Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) that prepared me to blend these wonderful tunes. It was the years of deejaying in NYC, at school, bars, and yes - coffee shops, that helped me mold between what should and should not be on the playlist. Muses are not always directly linked to the end result.
The Smooth Horn Blues playlist however was directly linked to the description of our Smooth Horn Blues coffee—"The higher altitudes and lower temperatures produce a slower maturing fruit and a harder, denser bean, and are thus more desirable for its mellow notes.” This is the American experience of the early 20th century for most, if not all, Black artists. Thriving through highs and lows, experiencing pitfalls and difficulties yet resiliently bouncing back and becoming stronger after every obstacle. The playlist is predicated on the blues that each of these artist’s music is drenched in, and reflect the music and majesty of legends like Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, as well as the unforgettable voices of Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. Their iconic sounds and melodic lyricism express originality and innovation in the face of trials, much reminiscent of the present. Their sonic messages are as salient today as they were almost 100 years ago.
This playlist hopes to reflect the radical hope, energy and quiet beauty (blues) found in wrestling with social issues through an art form. We hope that our Honduras Smooth Horn Blues coffee and the corresponding playlist help uplift your mood and empower you to be you and to be free.
Happy Juneteenth! Stay tuned for more unique branded playlist in the coming weeks!