Michael Kauffman is the Director of the Clio Music and Clio Cannabis programs at The Clio Awards, an annual awards shows for the ad business. Clio Music, now in its 7th year, honors creativity in advertising and marketing for artist promotion and brand collaborations, as well as the use of music in ads, trailers, and video content. Clio Cannabis, launched in 2019 and now open for entries in its second year, celebrates the creators at the forefront of cannabis marketing and communications.
Prior to his current role, Kauffman held marketing and corporate communications roles at YouTube, Google, and RightsFlow, a licensing and rights-management start-up acquired by Google. He also held senior commerce roles with Universal Music Group’s Verve label and at BMG’s Windham Hill and currently serves on the advisory boards of Temple University's Klein College of Media and Communication and the university’s NYC alumni chapter.
With all of this in mind, we asked Kauffman to make this week’s Weedsday playlist that comes with a bit of jazz, soul and funk to it.
1. Nuyorican Soul featuring Jocelyn Brown - “I Am The Black Gold of the Sun/It’s Alright I Feel It”
Back in the late 90s - mid-00s, I was fortunate to work at Universal’s jazz label (GRP which merged with, and became, Verve), which fueled my love for the genre and introduced me to the many crossover gems we released-- musical hybrids of soul, Latin, dance, and other styles. One huge highlight was the Nuyorican Soul project conceived and created by the dynamite DJ duo Masters at Work (Little Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez) and featuring an all-star line-up of Latin and jazz superstars (Tito Puente, Roy Ayers, India, George Benson, Jazzy Jeff). With brilliant album design work that emulated cigar box packaging, it’s a record that celebrates their heritage -- and it sounds amazing from start to finish. These two blended tracks percolate perfectly to start things off.
2. Dinner Party - “Freeze Tag” (feat. Kamasi Washington & Phoelix)
I’ve been following and loving the musical arc of Kamasi Washington for a few years. Phenomenal music and creativity (how about that hidden 5th record in Kamasi’s Heaven And Earth 5x gatefold vinyl release?!). On this new collaboration, he’s joined with Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and Patrick Denard Douthit (9th Wonder) to form Dinner Party, a hip hop/jazz supergroup. Smooth and easy -- for chill afternoons or late nights. Kamasi’s sister, Armani, who’s a visual artist, designed the cover art featuring portraits of each band member. Mesmerizing to behold. (Full album reviewed here.)
3. Stevie Wonder – “Golden Lady”
When I’m enjoying a session at home in NYC, I have a portable desk/chair setup that allows me to relax and look out my front windows across 57th Street. From this vantage point, my eye is drawn to a large ornate red brick building on the SW corner of 57th and 9th called the Windermere that’s largely been vacant while undergoing years of renovation. First built in 1881, the landmark is a mix of Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic, and Romanesque architecture -- and has an illustrious, sometimes infamous history as one of NYC’s first apartment buildings -- including housing notable tenants like Steve McQueen before he was a star.
According to my buddy and musical sherpa Anthony Ellis, Stevie Wonder lived in the building in 1973 while he was recording Innervisions at Media Sound Studios down the street. And although it’s almost 50 years old, it’s an album written and sung for today (“Living for the City,” “Higher Ground,” “Jesus Children of America”). When he launches into this track, Stevie joyfully requests “golden lady, golden lady… I'd like to go there.” I love the idea of relaxing into my chair and taking in the same sights as Stevie when he penned those words.
4. Frank Sinatra - “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
During lockdown, I’ve been bingeing classic Sinatra A Man And His Music TV specials for an escape into a groovy musical and broadcasting time capsule. In an episode from 1967, Ella Fitzgerald joins Frank for a medley of glorious standards and cheeky 60’s pop interrupted by this chatter:
Frank: “These days the kids sing about taking trips and getting high and all that jazz…”
Ella: “Oh, WE invented that - remember?”
Frank: “Remember? I haven’t come down yet!”
From the classic live album “Sinatra at the Sands,” this version of the Cole Porter classic combines Frank’s swagger with a Basie band directed by Quincy Jones, who noted, “Frank was at the height of his powers then, and I was steering his musical ship, the greatest band in the world.” Swing hard.
5. Ted Lucas - “It’s So Nice (To Get Stoned)”
A recent recommendation from DJ Bunny Ears, a friend with fantastic taste in music, this track is dedicated to moments of blissful drift. The song was covered by Okkervil River in 2011, and the album was recently reissued by Vinyl Me, Please, whose editor shared that this is “a song that deserves to be in the pantheon of weed epics.” Agreed.