SmokeGood DrinkGood Magazine

Cigars: Wayne Mabry From Brother of the Leaf to the VIOLATOR

“I’m Living the Dream…It’s a Lifestyle”

*Wayne Mabry aka The VIOLATOR of Raider Nations Black Hole, Entrepreneur and Cigar Aficionado; sits down with SGDG Magazine to share his passion for cigars, life, and for the NFL Oakland Raiders.

One of the many wonderful experiences cigar aficionados share is our ability to influence and encounter new and exciting people across the globe. Whether it be on the golf course, in a cigar lounge, on the beach or tailgating at a football game, cigars have the unequivocal ability to bring people together. Our Brother of the Leaf, Wayne Mabry also known as the VIOLATOR of Raider Nations Black Hole, sits down with SGDG to share and speak about his passion for life, the NFL Oakland Raiders, and most importantly, cigars.

Just a “southern gentleman from Mississippi”, Wayne discusses how he is determined to live life with a purpose as well as how he peeled back the layers of his soul ultimately unmasking his “kindred spirit”, his character, and his alter-ego, the VIOLATOR. For Wayne, being in character has always been a very “intense” and extraordinary experience so smoking cigars is a meditative and tranquil necessity allowing him to “put the world on pause”.

At 60 years young, this retired union carpenter lives the cigar lifestyle and savors the moments in life that allow him to Smokegood and Drinkgood. High on life and living his dream, Wayne Mabry is a husband, a father, entrepreneur and community activist. Wayne continues to be adored by fans new and old from every corner of the globe while expanding on his love and passion for cigars and the cigar lifestyle.

Please enjoy the following interview:

SGDG:    Welcome to SGDG Magazine Wayne. Thank you for spending time with me and for sharing your passion for the cigar lifestyle with our SGDG Family.

Wayne: Thanks Terri.  It’s a pleasure.

SGDG:    I believe that we met on Facebook through a mutual Facebook friend a few years ago. From the start, you posted wonderful cigar and spirit pairings. At the time, I was an Oakland Raiders fan and I noticed that your profile photo was familiar to me. When I clicked on your name and your page came up, I was blown away. I thought to myself, “He’s a member of The Black Hole!”. From that moment on I was completely fascinated by you and your legacy. The multiple aspects of your life became aware to me, first casually enjoying your cigars and spirits as Wayne and then to see you transform into the VIOLATOR! It’s just SAVAGE! Of course, I looked up your birthday and found out that you were not only a BOTL (brother of the leaf) and the VIOLATOR; but you are also a fellow Scorpio! That was all I needed to know.

Wayne: Yes.  I try to live a well-rounded life because you only get one Journey to travel so it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunities that you encounter.

SGDG:    I am a huge fan of yours however, I did my homework to prepare for this interview. You are a retired Union Carpenter, a hard-working blue-collar man, and a family man with children and grandchildren. When did you begin your journey into the Black Hole as the VIOLATOR? How did it all begin for you?

Wayne: It all started as a dream back in the 70’s after watching the Oakland Raiders on Television. I was hooked on the idea of moving to California from Mississippi to do something positive with my life. I started going to games in Los Angeles around 1983 and unleashed the VIOLATOR in 1991. What happened over the last 26 years you couldn’t script in Hollywood! I’m living the dream!

SGDG:    It takes me 15 minutes to apply my makeup. How long does it take for you to transform into the VIOLATOR? How do you feel when you are in full gear?

Wayne: First, mine is called “war paint” and my transformation takes about 2 hours to complete. During this ritual, my spiritual senses and emotions are elevated to intense levels which I call “GAMEDAY mode”.

SGDG:     What kind of sports did you play in your youth? Did you always want to be in the NFL?

Wayne: I played football in my youth, and of course I dreamed of playing in the NFL. But I guess God had a different direction for my life and I feel like I’m a part of the history of the NFL.

SGDG:    As a child, my grandfather’s lodge brothers smoked pipes and cigars in the basement after their meetings. That was the first time that I fell in love with the smell of pipe and cigar tobacco. I found the aroma of pipe tobacco and cigars to be soothing and enjoyable. When was the first time you can recall ever encountering the scent of a cigar or pipe tobacco? How did it make you feel?

Wayne: My first encounter with cigar tobacco came as I helped my uncle AJ deliver newspapers while in high school. I also fell in love with the aroma.

SGDG:    When did you smoke your first cigar and what brand was it?

Wayne: I had my first cigar with the same uncle, even though after turning green from inhaling the smoke! He taught me how to properly enjoy a cigar. I think it was a Dutch Masters.

SGDG:    Give me your top 5 cigars.

Wayne: Padron 1926, Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro, Oliva V Melania, Arturo Fuente Hemingway, and Cohiba Behike 56.

SGDG:    What strength and ring gauge do you prefer?

Wayne: I prefer a full-bodied Maduro and ring gauge from 54 to 60.

SGDG:    What is your preferred spirit to pair with your cigar?

Wayne: My preferred spirits are bourbon or cognac.

SGDG:    Where do you smoke? Do you prefer to smoke at home or in a social environment such as a cigar lounge?

Wayne: I prefer to smoke at home where I can enjoy the view, music and just totally get in my “CHILLAXIN zone”.

SGDG:    How extensive is your cigar collection?

Wayne: I have a modest collection of cigars in different price ranges, but lately I’ve been purchasing only what I truly enjoy. I believe in “enjoying the moments”!

SGDG:    Being the Alpha Male that you are, do you have a “mancave” or a place that you consider to be your mancave? What goes down in the mancave?

Wayne: I don’t have a mancave, but consider my patio as my “CHILLAXIN sanctuary”.

SGDG:    In your travels, where is the most exotic place that you’ve enjoyed a cigar?

Wayne: The cigar lounge at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the Fox Bar in Arizona.

SGDG:    In 2003, you gave an interview to the St. Petersburg Times, where you expressed that Raider Nation is “spiritual” and that it’s a “lifestyle.” ESPN The Magazine, did a photoshoot entitled “Raider Nation Behind the Makeup”, where it featured members of the Black Hole and the VIOLATOR was front and center. ESPN quoted you as saying that your character the VIOLATOR was a “kindred spirit”. What did you mean by that? Are you a spiritual man?

Wayne: Absolutely! Until you reach that place in life where you understand that we’re all here for a
purpose and you need something spiritual to get you through life’s situations, you’re missing the real joy of your life’s journey.

SGDG:  Your relationship with cigars…Is it a spiritual experience for you?

Wayne:  Yes, for me it’s a connection between mind, body and spirit and that’s why being in my spot (home) I’m able to have that type relationship while enjoying a nice cigar.

SGDG:    Twenty-six years of passion! What motivates you to get up and show up every season as the VIOLATOR?

Wayne: You just said it; PASSION for the game, love for my team, and fellowshipping with fans from around the world!

SGDG:    The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2018. I saw your post on Facebook which gave your fans a glimpse into the new stadium. How will this affect you and other members of the Raider Nation Black Hole? Will you be relocating to Las Vegas?

Wayne: As of right now I’ll be enjoying the seasons left in Oakland, but when that day comes God willing, my plans are to continue my MISSION. It’s going to be a new experience, but one I’m looking forward to enjoying!

SGDG:    As the” VIOLATOR”, do you smoke cigars? Do you smoke while you tailgate? While in the Black Hole during games?

Wayne: Yes. I do smoke while in character and when I can I try to enjoy a cigar while tailgating. No. I don’t smoke while in the stadiums, however they do have designated smoking areas.

SGDG:    Do other members of the Black Hole smoke cigars with you?

Wayne: Yes! That’s the beauty of GAMEDAY, you never know with who or where a cigar moment will happen.

SGDG:    On September 16, 2017, you will be honored in Oakland at The Black Hole Kick Off Event with the “Black Hole Lifetime Achievement Award”. Tickets for the event can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. Congratulations Brother! How do you feel about this?

Wayne: Thank you and I’m honored to be a recipient of the award. To be honored by one’s peers is one of those unforgettable LIFETIME memories.

SGDG:     I see that you are charitable and compassionate. You participate in various fundraisers and events that support many worthy causes for your local community and beyond such as Cancer Kids. Tell me more about the organizations that you support and how our SGDG Family can lend their support?

Wayne: I’ve been Blessed. I believe in giving back and leaving POSITIVE footprints that others may choose to follow so I get involved with helping those less fortunate. The organizations that I support right now are Raider Nation 4 Life Car Club,  Outreach Ministries, ABC7 Stuff-a-Bus Toy Drive, and other fundraising efforts. My SGDG Family can always support by donating to the causes so check out my social media outlets for info. Thank you to my SGDG Family for your support in advance!

SGDG:     MODO-SPORTS is your apparel line. Your brand promotes fun, fitness, and positive message gear. Tell us more about your company and your brand?

Wayne: I’ve been into fashion since high school and MODO SPORTS allows me to express and share some of my passions for life, fitness and POSITIVE attitudes. You can see my clothing at MODO-SPORTS.COM.

SGDG:    You are very active and social on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You have thousands of fans from all over the world that love and adore you. What would you like your VIOLATOR Fans to know about Wayne Mabry, Cigar Aficionado?

Wayne: I would like my VIOLATOR fans to know that I’m Blessed to live my dream and I strive to be an example of what it takes when you pursue your passion in life, no matter what that may be. When you really stop and smell the roses, it’s all about simple pleasures. Just be yourself. One of my favorite t-shirt designs sums it up by saying, “JUST DO YOU ” you can’t f**k that up!

SGDG:    What would you like your Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf to know about Wayne Mabry, Raider Nation, and the VIOLATOR?

Wayne: To my brothers and sisters of the leaf, I say…Smokegood Drinkgood and enjoy the moments that make life special. Life has no reverse gear so keep it POSITIVE, stay hungry and remain humble!

SGDG:    Is there anything else you would like to share with SGDG readers and with your fans around the world?

Wayne: I’m living the dream. As we journey to the mountain tops in this life, take someone with you to share the experience.

SGDG:    Wayne, thank you so much for your time, for sharing your passion for cigars, and for introducing our SGDGmagazine Family to the VIOLATOR and Raider Nation. Remember to always Smokegood cigars and Drinkgood spirits. SGDG…It’s a Lifestyle!

End of Interview

Sources:

St. Petersburg Times
http://www.sptimes.com/2003/01/25/Bucs/Raider_nation.shtml

ESPN Magazine
http://www.espn.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/9697611/image/3

 

Where to Follow Wayne

Facebook: Wayne Mabry
Facebook: VIOLATOR
Twitter: @violator57
Instagram: @mabrywayne
Website: MODO-SPORTS.com

Distilled Spirits: Whiskies of the World Houston – Whiskey and Food Pairing Tasting Event

September 14, 2017

Discover the world of whisky like you’ve never seen it before. As one of the largest whisky tasting events in the US, Whiskies of the World gathers over 200 of the most fascinating distilled spirits from around the globe, along with their makers and ambassadors, to give its guests an unforgettable tasting experience.

Featuring over 200 Whiskey Expressions from around the Globe, Incredible Food and Cigar Pairings, Educational Masterclasses and Unforgettable Meet and Greets. In addition to the diverse golden spirits, sought-after products of American Craft distilleries will be presented to demonstrate the growing popularity of the innovative, local distilled spirits, and craft distilling in general.

About Whiskies of the World LLC:
Whiskies of the World, an IWSC North America event, began in San Francisco, CA in 1998. Since 2010, it has been under the direction of whiskey enthusiast and event director, Douglas Smith. Whiskies of the World has annual events in San Francisco, San Jose, Austin, Houston and Atlanta.

Where: JW Marriott Galleria Houston: 5150 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77056
When: Thursday, September 14, 2017, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Tickets: $145 VIP Admission (6:00 PM entry**), $120 General Admission (7:00 PM entry).

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://whiskiesoftheworld.com/houston/ Follow Whiskies of the World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #WOWHOU
Browse last year’s Houston event pictures: #WOWHOU

The LifeStyle: Hollywood Smoke A Destination For Cigar Lovers To Socialize

Located in beautiful Santa Monica at the heart of coastal Los Angeles, Hollywood Smoke is the ideal destination for the discerning Cigar Smoker seeking a warm, welcoming atmosphere to enjoy some of the finest cigars from an expansive selection of the best worldwide makers. Established in 1996, Hollywood Smoke is focused on providing customers with the finest cigars and incredible customer service. The lounge is specially designed to invite and attract cigar aficionados from all walks of life. Stop in and take in the ocean air while enjoying the premium cigar of your choice! No membership required.

Hollywood Smoke is located at:
3110 Main St #106 Santa Monica CA, 90405 (310)396-1661

http://hollywoodsmoke.com

Business Hours:
Mon-Wed 11AM-10PM
Thursday 11AM-11PM
Fri-Sat 11AM-12AM
Sunday 12PM-10PM

Distilled Spirits: Moët Hennessy acquires Woodinville Whiskey Company

French wines and spirit maker Moët Hennessy has acquired US-based Woodinville Whiskey Company for an undisclosed amount.

The Washington-based craft whiskey-maker was founded in 2010 by two friends, Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile.

The company claims to have grown into one of the largest craft whiskey manufacturers in the state. After the acquisition, the friends will continue to manage the company.

Product portfolio of the company includes its Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Woodinville Straight Rye Whiskey.

These two products are claimed to be matured for at least five years at Woodinville’s barrel warehouses in Quincy, Washington. The climatic conditions of the state are considered ideal for the aging process. The grains used in the spirit-making process are also sourced locally from Omlin family farm in Quincy.

Woodinville initially produced microbarreled bourbon and rye whiskies. Later, it started producing a 5-year-old straight bourbon in 2015 and a 5-year-old straight rye, last year.

Moët Hennessy president and CEO Christophe Navarre said: “We are convinced that Woodinville fits very well within the Moët Hennessy portfolio.”

“Orlin and Brett have done a great job to establish Woodinville Whiskey as an iconic brand in Washington state with significant potential for expanded distribution through our US and international networks.

“While we are no strangers to whiskey, with our Glenmorangie and Ardbeg single malts, we have much to learn from Orlin and Brett about American distilling and look forward to this important new partnership.”

The Whiskey Wash quoted Sorensen as saying: “We are very proud about what we have accomplished since founding Woodinville Whiskey Company just a few years ago.”

“As we considered the many strategic opportunities before us, it was clear that being part of the Moët Hennessy portfolio and distribution network will allow us to reach our goals much more quickly.

“Brett and I are thrilled to continue leading the business and to be part of the accelerated growth we expect to achieve as part of Moët Hennessy, and its parent LVMH, the world’s leading luxury goods company.”

Woodinville Whiskey Company

For over 100 years Washington State has been a place where innovators and dreamers have come to take a chance to build something better. From the early settlers who pushed out of Seattle to build a better life, to those who have help build Woodinville into the epicenter of alcohol production in Washington state. Pure water from the Cascade mountains, grains grown exclusively for us on the Omlin Family farm, and an ideal aging environment make this the perfect place to craft our whiskey.

You are only as good as those who have taught you, and we’re honored to have one of the best teacher’s in the world. After 14 years as master distiller at Maker’s Mark, David Pickerell has been our guiding hand since the day we set up shop. We’re proud to call him our teacher and friend.

All of our grain is grown exclusively for us on the Omlin Family Farm in Quincy, Washington. As third generations farmers, Arnie & Phyliss Omlin know what it takes to grow the finest grains. We’re honored to be part of the family.

Straight Bourbon

90 Proof

They said it couldn’t be done. So we did it. Over 5 years in the making, a real craft straight bourbon whiskey.

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90 Proof

One of the only 100% straight rye whiskies produced, it has all the traditional rye spice and flavor rye whiskey drinkers love. And then some.

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80 Proof

Sweeter and softer, you’ll taste the distilled difference.

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92 Proof

We’re making an honest man out of the term “small-batch.” Everything about this whiskey is small – except its flavor.

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The LifeStyle: Rolex The Yacht-Master Series

THE YACHT-MASTER

THE WATCH OF THE OPEN SEAS

The Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II models embody the spirit of the sailor. Inspired by the rich heritage that has bound Rolex to the world of sailing since the 1950s, the Yacht-Master blends function and style, while the Yacht-Master II brings together the finest in Rolex technology to create a regatta chronograph built for yachting competition.

Cigars: Le Bijou is Don Pepin’s Homage To His Father Born in 1922

My Father 1922 Le Bijou cigars are handmade in Nicaragua. While the original My Father was made secretly by Don Pepin’s son Jaime, Le Bijou is Don Pepin’s homage to his own father, born in 1922. French for the jewel, Le Bijou lives up to its billing! Notoriously difficult to grow, Pelo de Oro wrapper leaves (dubbed Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro) cloak a well-aged, full-bodied blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos.

A sweet, creamy start gives way to some spice and bold tobacco flavor. Le Bijou 1922 exudes a robust array of flavors delivered in a remarkably smooth fashion. Complex, unique and satisfying – the Garcia Family’s new star!

My Father Le Bijou 1922 received Cigar of the Year honors for 2015 and an impressive 97-point rating, noting: “It takes a profound understanding of cigar tobaccos to create a smoke that conveys uncanny impressions of dark chocolate-covered raisins, savory leather and a sweet-and-salty finish that resonates on the palate.

My Father Cigars

It all began from a very humble beginning when Jose Pepin Garcia and his family established a very small cigar factory in Little Havana in 2003. Jose Pepin Garcia could not have imagined at that moment that his love and passion for cigars would help him to build one of the most recognized companies in the cigar industry. His companies have become synonymous with highly rated and well-distinguished brands. Read More

You can purchase these cigars here at Neptune Cigars , make sure you tune into SmokeGood DrinkGood Radio and checkout The ASHLife Store for Apparel and Accessories.

The LifeStyle: Southern Hospitality Cigar Time & Liquor – Katy, Texas

Nestled within the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, sits a wonderful cigar lounge where smokers can relax, have a drink and enjoy Texas hospitality. Cigar Time & Liquor, Located in Katy Texas offers its customers over 5,000 sq ft of lounge space, an extraordinary walk in humidor with a vast selection of premium and unique cigar blends.

Customers may also take advantage of membership options which has its privileges. Membership with Cigar Time offers a VIP loft with lockers,  poker, pool, flat screen TVs, a bar and plenty of leisure seating. The lounge has a state of the art air filtration and circulation system for its customers comfort.

Conveniently located next door is Liquor Time. Liquor Time is the sister store which provides aficionados with the opportunity to DrinkGood Whiskey while they SmokeGood cigars. Stop by and meet the friendly and knowledgeable tobacconists available to assist you with your tobacco and cigar accessory needs.

Cigar Time & Liquor is located at: 20940 Katy Freeway, Suite K Katy, TX 77449. For information on cigar events, membership and other inquiries call (832)321-4311.

Distilled Spirits: Chief Brand Jameson Irish Whiskey Born in 1780

In 1780, the Scottish businessman John Jameson purchased the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. It was not long before his chief brand, Jameson Irish Whiskey, would become internationally popular. The Bow Street distillery was previously producing around 30,000 gallons annually but by the turn of the nineteenth century the distillery was producing over a million gallons. John Jameson was keen to produce the best product possible, sourcing the finest ingredients.

Furthermore, John triple distilled his product when most others were double distilled; he believed this produced a smoother product. During the early nineteenth century, John Jameson’s son, John II, expanded the facilities which were, by this time, among the largest in Ireland. John II’s son John III further expanded the brand and when his son John IV came to power at the helm of the Jameson brand, he found himself in charge of a global brand.

jameson-irish-whiskey

Like many Irish whiskeys Jameson is triple distilled, compared to the typical 2x distilled of Scotland and America, which removes more “impurities” and gives it more of a light clean flavor. Think of how vodka brands hype their 6, 7, 8, etc, distillations to achieve an even cleaner and lighter spirit. Jameson is also a blended Irish which means the 3x distilled malt whiskey is blended with grain whiskey which lightens the flavor and texture even more.

Overall Jameson is a tasty whiskey that I enjoy for what it is. It’s not my first choice neat, but on the rocks it’s nice and as a mixer it’s excellent. In my opinion the Jameson original is a little lighter on flavor than Bushmills white label and a smidgen unbalanced with the grain alcohol showing up a bit too much on the nose and palate to be a daily drinker for me. One of my favorite, it’s decent stuff and I’m happy to see so many people “discovering” Irish whiskey because of it.

Today, Jameson is the best selling Irish whiskey in the world.

Tasting Note

The nose is full and floral with a smooth sweetness. Marmalade and fudge, Madeira and a little cut grass note. The palate is thick and of good body with notes of orchard fruits, both fresh and cooked with a little vanilla cream. The finish is of medium-length with spice and honey.

The Jameson Whiskey Production Process

https://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/us/ourwhiskeys

The LifeStyle: Cigar Pairing of the Month #SGDG It’s a Lifestyle”

Yamazaki and LFD 1994 Pairing

1994 Litto and Ines Gomez purposefully (and brilliantly) set aside the most exceptional fillers and binders from their La Canela farm in the Dominican Republic to create LFD’s 20th Anniversary Rumba commemorative cigar. Surrounding the complex and powerful blend is a sweet and savory Mexican San Andres wrapper. Like LFD’s other premiums, the 1994 is a full-bodied cigar that’s totally off the hook; made with love, pride, and decades of patience.

The latest trend among whisky geeks is to be in the know about the burgeoning market for “world whiskies,” those that arise from locations other than the traditional brown spirits nations of Scotland, Ireland, United States and Canada. What some hipsters mightn’t have sussed is that in Japan distilling isn’t the latest fad. Since 1923, Suntory has been making whisky at its flagship distillery Yamazaki—a very Scots-like location in a misty vale at the convergence of three rivers. The spirit’s conjunction with this cigar has a very East meets West charm to it.

Yamazaki Single Malt Aged 18 Years (86 proof; 18 years old; $250 per 750 ml. bottle)

APPEARANCE: Medium amber tone with a Champagne sparkle.

NOSE: A rich aroma full of black cherries, spice vanilla, chocolate, sawdust and Christmas pudding.

PALATE: In the mouth it defines its spice with chewy nutmeg, vanilla and a smattering of ginger. The fruit expands to include pears, lychee and plums, the later two giving it an Eastern taste. A hint of peat also appears on the palate.

FINISH: The long encore includes a sweet oak finish with walnuts, caramel and orange peel.

CIGAR PAIRING: This matchup is an object lesson on how one tiny element can make a partnership blossom. The whisky’s peat, which seems a mere afterthought following almost two decades in wood, awakens my palette. Delicious notes of citrus, chocolate and some molasses as an afterthought on the finish of the smoke. The one thing that I am really noting how medium bodied this cigar is the in comparison to other cigars such as the Ligero and Double Ligero. As the first third of the cigar comes to a close the molasses really begins to stand out and a sweetness becomes the focal point with some citrus remaining on the finish.

Music: Diana Krall Pure Elegance and Grace A Style of Her Own

While I’m a new fan of Diana Krall, I have to say that she’s such a great talent, and I’m so glad that there’s an artist like her out there making music. In this day of “Mainstream Pop”, hearing someone who has real musicianship is a much needed change of pace. The first time I saw Diana was when I was watching Jazz Central on BET a few years ago, and I was truly impressed, but I never really tried to find out anything more about her, until this year. I was searching on the Internet and I found her rendition of “Christmas time is here”. I was totally blown away, and I had to find more.

DianaKrall003

From the very first song, “Let’s face the music and dance”, with its steamy bossa nova, smokey delivery from Diana, and smooth string accompaniment, it’s really hard to put this album down. All of the arrangements are extremely well done, and Diana brings out all of the emotions of each song like she’s lived through them all. Especially the title track. I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I just hit the replay button, and fell into the lush sounds of the strings, the warm guitar, while I fell in love with Diana’s soothing, comforting voice. VERY few albums have ever done that to me before, and I can’t wait for her next effort so she can do it to me again.

DianaKrall002

Now I can understand that people are mad that Diana doesn’t show off her great piano chops, and those who claim that she’s selling out, but I have to totally disagree. Diana doesn’t have to go the route of so many artists and use their albums to display how great they are; she just wants the music to show for itself. As for the selling out thing, she is more popular, yes. Being nominated for Album of the year proves that, but can’t an artist be allowed to grow, and even expand out of their genre ever so slightly? This album is NOT Pop and ESPECIALLY NOT elevator music. Having strings on a jazz album is also not a sign of selling out either. While the strings were certainly not needed, as she sounds just as great with just her trio, the strings just added a whole other dimension to the songs. I’m glad that she went that route, as it made for a wonderfully splendid album.

It couldn’t come any more highly recommended. Go get it now. And while you’re at it, newcomers should go and get her other albums as well, so you can see that her talent isn’t just a one-album affair; it’s the real deal.