Music is an important part of creating an environment of hospitality. Just as the food and service must be consistent in quality, it’s my personal opinion that the music heard in a restaurant needs to have a consistent genre or vibe to it. What you hear develops expectation, however subtle or subconscious it may be.

We often get the question, “who’s that playing right now?” So I decided to list 24 of my favorite artists/discs that set the mood for the bread&cup experience. Most are available on iTunes, Amazon or the service I primarily use, eMusic. I have listed the genre, a brief description and a one song definition that you should sample to get a good idea of the artist in one shot.

Though I’m probably too old, I lean toward the hipster on this list, as I take pride in finding stuff you’ve never heard of.

1. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

  • -Jazz
  • -The record that influenced the music you listen to today.
  • -One song definition: So what

2. Gotan Project – La Revancha del Tango

  • -Modern Tango
  • -Approach with caution, as this could be also termed as baby-making music. Sultry and sexy, this group creates an amazing sound
  • -One song definition: Queremos Paz

3. Jeff Oster – Surrender

  • -Contemporary Jazz
  • -Oster’s flugelhorn can fill a deep canyon. A smooth jazz-esque feel without the metronomic rhythm tracks
  • -One song definition:  Voce Quer Dancar

4. Ahn Trio – Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac

  • -Modern Classical
  • -A simple trio of violin, piano and cello
  • -One song definition: Solitary Singer

5. St Germain – Tourist

  • -House
  • -A good example of what house music can be; compulsive grooves layered with smart horn lines and improve styles.
  • -One song definition:  Rouge Rouge

6. The Blue Nile – High

  • -Electronic downtempo
  • – Cold, snowy or rainy day musicSome days your music needs to match the weather.  There is nothing sunny and mild about this group.
  • -One song definition: High

7. Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur

  • -Ambient soundscape
  • -My repeated go-to for late night chillout and introspection.
  • -One song definition: Familiar Ground

8. Jem – Down To Earth

  • -International pop,
  • -The rhythms span from mideastern to  samba, Her voice just grabs me.
  • -One song definition: Down to Earth

9. CeU – CeU

  • -Brazilian pop
  • -I got on this international female vocal trend this year and found this Brazilian singer.
  • -One song definition: Roda

10. Sphere – Closer

  • -International pop
  • -Another one on the international list.
  • -One song definition: Sunbather

11. Ana Lann – Chocolate and Roses

  • -Spanish pop
  • -Born in Madrid, sings both in Spanish and English
  • -One song definition: Me Echaras De Menos

12. Sise – Si-se

  • -Latin chilled out pop
  • -Fun, light, and pleasant
  • -One song definition: Rain

13. Zaz – Zaz

  • -French vocal pop.
  •  -Her way with words makes me wish I could speak French
  • -One song definition: Je Veux

14. Goat Rodeo Sessions – Stuart Duncan; Chris Thile; Edgar Meyer; Yo-Yo Ma

  • -An unusual blend of classical, bluegrass and Celtic styles
  • -I put this one on in the morning
  • -One song definition:  Attaboy

15. Chris Standring – Blue Bolero

  • -Contemprary Jazz
  • -Another in the smooth jazz line, but Standring adds a dynamic element to the genre that creates interest in the song.
  • -One song definition: Blue Bolero

16. Andy McKee – Art of Motion

  • -Instrumental acoustic guitar.
  • -McKee is an internet phenom, and when you see his YouTube videos of how he plays, you will understand how he makes so much sound for one guy on a a guitar.
  • -One song definition: Art of Motion

17. New Tango Duo & Walter Castrom – Bajo Cero

  • -Modern Tango
  • -They performed at the Lied Center last year, but I couldn’t attend. A musical regret.
  • -One song definition: Bajo Cero

18. John Coltrane – Ballads

19. Karrin Allison – Ballads

  • -Jazz instrumental and vocal
  • -18 and 19 go together.  Coltrane recorded an instrumental only version of vocal standards in 1962.  Allyson came along in 2000 and released a vocal version of the set list.  Play it song for song in a playlist.
  • One song definition: Say it Over and Over Again

20. Washed Out – Within and Without

  • -Termed chillwave
  • -A modern sound with hipster approval and sensibility.
  • -One Song Definition: Far Away

21. Tin Hat Trio – Book of Silk

  • -Acoustic chamber music
  • -Moody and dark.
  • -One song definition: Empire of Light

22. Jai Jutal – Dial M for Mantra

  • -International downtempo, w/ eastern Indian influence
  • -Not sure the language being sung, but the groove translates easily
  • -One song definition: Ganesha Windmix

23. The Jazz Code – Various Artists

  • -Contemporary Jazz
  • -My music subscription to eMusic had a myriad of these types of compilations.  This is only one of my many favorite compilations. You get a lot of music for the price and it’s a great way to build your library.
  • -One song definition: The Man with the Hat

24. Modern Jazz Café – Various Artists

  • -NU Jazz, Trip Hop, contemporary jazz
  • -At least ten volumes of various artists with 20 tracks, so you get your money’s worth
  • -One song definition: Your pick
24 albums to set the mood