Perfect Soundtrack for Stylish Sunday Lunch?

As much as I love a wide variety of music, I seem to have great difficulty matching music while entertaining guests.

This weekend, I am hosting a lunch for a few couples, some of whom are visiting from overseas, and I really need to make a good impression.

Perhaps it is because I am more interested in sitting down and really focusing on music than having it in the background, I find this so difficult.

Things that immediately come to mind are usually pretentious, overplayed, distracting and/or just plain wrong -- ie if I showed up at lunch and heard ein klein nachtmusik, the Four Seasons, or Diana Krall, it might put me off my food.

Then again, I dont want some cutting edge, underground, just pirated in from a night club in Paris kind of vibe unless I am intoxicated or non monogamous.

Now I have NEVER tired of late night dinners at Cafe Luxembourg listening to Kind of Blue, but since my house is not off Amsterdam Avenue at 2AM, they might not quite fit either?!

So any help would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

1:00 PM, in the country, rack of lamb, Bloody Marys, and ______ on the stereo.

Thank you very much.


And maybe an iTunes compilation run through the computer would simplify things as well?
Can't go wrong with Gillian Welch's, "Soul Journey" and "Time (The Revelator)." In my opinion, her work is state-of-the-art Americana, which the overseas friends might like. Or, more mellow, Bill Evans, "Waltz for Debby."
How about some easy, county-blues such as Keb Mo'. Or, go with some funky jazz guitar? My wife used The Montgomery Brothers - "Groove Yard" for a "stylish" event she auction event she put on for the local university.
chris botti's newest is excellent

Edvard Grieg: Lyrische Stucke - Lyric Pieces
- Emil Giles, Piano

Parkening Plays Bach

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Tord Gustvsen Trio: Changing Places

Blossom Dearie: Blossom's Own Treasures
Guarenteed to fit your bill - Brian Bromberg - "You know that feeling". Light (but not insipid) jazz - great tunes.
Absolutely unobtrusive, but at some point some or all of your guests are going to ask what that is - I use it for the same purpose all the time - always works.
Also real good for the purpose - Doyle Dykes, Fiingerstyle Guitar and / or Gitarre 2000.
Are you trying to show off your rig or have unoffensive (enjoyable) background music that will not hamper conversation?
To me entertaining a small group is all about the conversation.

Dave Grusin - "The Gershwin Connection"
Doc & Merle Watson - "pickin the blues"
Surprising to me... The Cowboy Junkies Platinum & Gold Collection
Good mix for any occassin where conversation should come before entertainment is blues, jazz, Motown with more jazz than blues or Motown. Not distracting but involving and fun with the ability to loosen up stuffed shirts in awkward stituations. Can email a sample of 6hour compilation if your like.

Stloi in the Bloody Marys (not cheap, not stupid expensive, but tasty for a vodka).

Mint relish rather than weird faux-green mint jelly stuff. Much more interesting and tasty.
Big handful of mint and half as much fresh rosemary steeped in 3 cups water. Strain mint/rosemary add 5 cups sugar, one large onion choped small, one large bell pepper choped small, one medium red bell pepper chopped small, one clove garlic minced, couple of grinds 5 pepper blend. Boil for 15 minutes. strain solids for use as relish save liquid for use as jelly on sandwitches and glaze for lamb(add some pectin to solidify).

Bon apetite.
Give Houston Person with his sax a try:
My Romance and In A Sentimental Mood.
Take a sampling of
"A Night Out W/Verve"4 disc set goes for a song and very nicely presented.
Try this one on for size:

Pat Metheny's soundtrack to the Italian film "Passagio Per Il Paradiso"

Very different from his PMG and solo stuff.

Absolutely beautiful and heartfelt music.

I think it will fit the mood of your gathering perfectly.
Some of the British '60's era folk guitarists have fit the bill when I'm in a similar situation. In particular, Davey Graham, esp. the 'Fire in My Bones' compilation.
"The Full Monty" soundtrack from the movie.

Has a little bit of everything, fun music.

I find music with lyrics a bit distracting for such occasions. You hit on it when you said "soundtrack". Perhaps one of the more gentle, cinematic soundtracks by Ennio Morricone. "Bugsy" would fit the bill nicely and enhance the mood, without distracting from the good food and conversation.
Dexter Gordon, "Our man in Paris". Great music, and also great background music. Works both ways.
"The Fred Astaire Story". Hours of Fred's singing accompanied by various top musicians/band leaders of the time.

Also, if available on CD, look for "The Great Singers" series by Easton Press. I have 3-4 of their boxed mono audiophile LP sets (think they were produced in the mid 80's).

Last, but not least the recently late/always great Bobby Short might be nice (I'd go with Bobby myself).
Easy one. St Germain , Tourist
How about some Windham Hill piano music? Nice, soothing, floating background sounds.
Franks Zappa - Overnight Sensation. Just kidding - seeing if you were paying attention.
Seriously, along with the guitar heros I mentioned above, Craig Chaquico, "Acoustic Highway" always gets raves for it's special background capabilities - great tunes and masterful playing.
Jeff Golub - Out of the Blue is also excellent.

You may want to cue up Mark Knopler's solo stuff, it's really nice acoustic music with some very low-key vocals. I like Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad" for that kinda get together too.

If you find your guests boring I strongly recommend you drink a lot and listen to Frank Zappa's "Does Humour Belong in Music" and Rage Against The Machine's "Battle of Los Angeles".

Happy listening, Jeff
just plug in an xm radio tuned to the all-disco-all-the-time station. after about 5 minutes, you'll realize the mutual enjoyment of your friends' company requires no soundtrack and, for the best of them, no conversation.
Tomasz Stanko "Suspended Night"

The sticker on the CD says that if everyone who owns 'Kind of Blue' listened to this, it would be a best-seller tomorrow. It is one amazing CD, in my opinion. Very accessible, non-cliched jazz trumpeter and his quartet.
I found it at Tower Records.
Ralph Towner/Gary Burton - "Matchbook"
The Pentangle - "Sweet Child"
If you have Cable or Satelite, why not put on "Soundscapes"...great mellow background music
P.S. no comercials or DJ'S and no excusing yourself to change the LP/CD, you dont want to be interupted or interupt others to play music, you may seem more interested in music than in them..........we all know its most likely true though, and we wont tell!!!!!!!!
From experience, this one is perfect. Jim Hall and Bill Eavens, Intermodulations. I am, in general, wrong about everything. This moment is my one shining exception to that rule!

I find it's often better to let guests select the music. I wouldn't burden them with playing DJ during your event, but any non-offensive iTunes playlist should be fine. From here inform your guests as they arrive that they are free to play whatever they like - I suppose this all requires a computer/iPod near the system.

Many times I've deliberated with friends/family/etc over what music to play for an event. From my experience it's best not to fret too much over it - to each his/her own.

Good luck with the party.
How about some good classical spanish guitar. John Williams for example. For Jazz, I would suggest Pat Methany and Charlie Hayden's Beyond the Missouri Ski. This is a cd that has excellent quality and can either make good background or focussed listening. For classical, Richard Goode's Mozart might do the trick, or perhaps some cello such as Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach or Janos Starker's Bach Suites fo Solo Cello. When entertaining, I like to have music that is not overwhelming and which has one or two instrument(s) so it doesn't compete with with the conversation.

Might I also suggest that you put some of the suggestions on during dinner a few time this week and see which of this threads suggestions allows for good conversation and does not get in the way.
I noticed that some of us might have been too late to be of assistance. What did you play and how did the evening turn out?

Too late for the last one, but I like to play Bob James "Grand Piano Canyon" when people are over for a fancy dinner, or evening. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is still great though.
Who are these people? A few over-seas types to be sure, but what else do you know about them? Are they friends? is this business? Both? First thing I would suggest is that you Not impress them. thats building walls, not bridges. If you really must impress them, chuck the lamb and eat chicken! Thats impressive! a little enya, a little more chicken; and next thing you know they are throwing plates on the floor and dancing in circles!
Telemann's Tafelmusik. Written to be heard while dining. That's true of a lot of baroque and classical music (e.g wind serenades).

Also Modern Jazz Quartet - I've been recommending that to people in my law office as music to work by, and the response has been positive. I find it is music that fits comfortably in the background, but can engage me instantly if I decide to concentrate on it for a minute or two. Bill Evans as well, but several people have already mentioned him.

Thanks -- and thanks to everyone for a great thread.

In the end, 2 of the couples brought toddlers and babies, so it might have been hard to hear a marching band in the middle of the house.

Then, in the mad rush to clean up, I misplaced the 3 or 4 CDs I had put aside following these suggestions.

In the end, it was a sunny day and everyone seemed in a pretty good mood, and I somehow ended up putting on Brother Jack McDuff for an upbeat, slightly retro quirky and no lyrics vibe, although very softly in the background.

So I am not even sure anyone noticed, but please do continue suggestions for future lunches and dinners!
Maybe no-one noticing is a good thing, that means you didnt over power the conversation, and it was pleasent enough for nobody to comment on not likeing it wich would be the worst thing to happen