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When Michael Kaeshammer, Canadian singer and piano-playing jazz star, isn't on stage entertaining audiences touring his latest album Lovelight, he hosts dinner parties in speakeasy style - winning him an ovation from friends who share his taste in music.

He says: "I'm a passionate cook - that's my other passion - I love music and food. These days I'm really into French food and on tour I seek out really good restaurants and I get a lot of ideas just from meals that I have at restaurants, so at home I have dinner parties where I invite some friends and everyone cooks together.

"It could be a Tuesday, or whenever, the day or occasion doesn't matter. I go shopping just for that meal and I don't start cooking until people actually arrive because I find hanging out and having wine is more enjoyable than just having a meal ready to serve - preparing food is part of the party.

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"I've got a loft with an open concept and everyone's in the same room. And while you're finishing a dish, I'll go make a couple of appetizers and the people stand around and it's like being in the clubs. Music is on all the time."

In his own words, here's Michael Kaeshammer's top dinner party music:


Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley by Robert Palmer was recorded in New Orleans in the seventies and it's the best Robert Palmer record you'll ever hear, because the back-up band is The Meters, a great funk band from New Orleans, and he's a great singer."

" Sam Cooke's Live at the Copa: the song Cupid has to be one of my favourite songs he ever wrote. The thing about Sam Cooke is, he's a very smart man the way he wrote lyrically, and the melodies are so simple and so happy; they're like songs kids sing around the house that are so memorable and they're so simple. I grew up listening to a lot of early jazz and blues, and then in my teens I followed the whole Memphis scene (Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis) and a lot of those soul records were recorded in that area. Gospel is one of my favourite musical styles because it's not so much about the music as it's about the message, and I find soul music is based on gospel. I put this album on early in the evening. On this record the audience is so loud and having so much fun you feel like you're in the club."

" Louis Armstrong's West End Blues, because whenever I listen to it I just have all these great memories of me and my dad listening to jazz as a kid. It's a short song, it's a blues songs and there are no lyrics to it, so Armstrong does his scat stuff and there's no one better since or before at scatting, and at the time this was pop music and that comes through."

" Al Green's Love and Happiness because there's one part of the song that makes the song for me: At the beginning he's talking about love and happiness, and then you can hear the drummer count 'one, two, three, four', and then the band comes in and it's the sweetest soul music you'll ever hear."

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" Dinah Washington has an album called Dinah Sings the Blues and there's a tune on there called In the Dark. She was one of those artists who was a mix of jazz and soul because she had so much power without improvising too much, and she was really telling a story, which in jazz singing isn't all that common."

" Billie Holiday's Fine and Mellow. The reason for that is there's a YouTube clip of her recording it live in the studio. All the musicians are standing in a circle and you watch her face when [Lester Young]plays a sax solo and she's having a conversation with the player, kind of nodding her head saying 'Oh, okay, I see what you're saying', and it gives me goosebumps. After I saw that, she became my favourite female jazz singer - unbelievable."

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