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Sonnet Shades of Sex Appeal: The Duke and Duchess of Jazz Noire, Niles Thomas & Laura Shaffer

As a hopeless romantic and an incredibly amorous gentleman with fetishes I dare not reveal, I enjoy unlocking and opening erotic doors of pleasure within my style of singing and songwriting – a fragrant room of sensuality and sexual desires, if you will.

The art of writing music that stirs up an inner awakening to let yourself go, to be sexually aroused with a lust-filled desire, is not something I learned, but something I realized that is deep-seated within me . Perhaps it’s because my father’s side is from Italy, and my mother’s side is from Spain – the passion flows deep.

Whenever I finish writing and recording a collection of songs, I devilishly smile at the very thought that the listener may say to their partner, “let’s go home and make-love to a Niles Thomas record”. For me, the very thought of that image brings this deep sense of love, it brings light. And in a world seemingly so dark at the moment, through the beauty and power of music, I want to guide people lose themselves, to be uninhibited with love and lust, to forget their problems and surrender to softness and pleasures – at least for a moment – to light the candles, enjoy a bottle of wine, a cocktail or a glass of champagne, and lose yourself in your intimate desires.

Some years ago I had been dubbed “The Duke of Jazz Noire”. Not because I write in the traditional jazz noire style, but rather, I believe it was because of my sensual sinister nature that flows within my chord structures and melodies. Noire - the French meaning for black or dark. You’re not supposed to like a title someone dubs you, but I rather did/do. I tend to gravitate towards the darkness, which is why I listen to such artists with a heavy heart, artists that are just broken enough and not afraid to artistically dive in deep waters.

With all of this said, I’d like to introduce someone that shares the same music sentiments as myself. I moved to Las Vegas (Sin City) a little over five years ago, and as fate would have it, I wandered into a smoky jazz lounge within the first three months of my arrival. And there she was, singing in the corner of a room with only a pianist at her side. I later learned it was her father, famed pianist/arranger/composer Charlie Shaffer. Long black dress, silken gloves, red lipstick, high heels, and a voice like honey. Exuding glamour and the grandeur of the golden eras of American music, in looks, persona, sound and style, was Miss Laura Shaffer – The Noire Nightingale as she’s known as; the vintage jazz chanteuse herself.

I didn’t end up introducing myself to her that first night, but rather, sipped on a cocktail in a dark shady corner of the red velvet-walled room listening to her incredible voice. What I admired most was that Laura’s not a caricature of the classics, she IS a classic. She brings her own vocal stylings to the table – a true original, which is something I respect.

We finally met three years after that night. Let’s just say I’m a patient man… and timing is everything. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend, pianist Brian “Tree” Triola, and we instantly hit it off. It was as if we’ve known each other for years, and I knew more so then that I wanted to work with her. And the more I would go out to see her shows, the more I wanted her to share the stage with us live. And so we did, and have.

Of course I’ve dubbed her the “Duchess of Jazz Noire”. It was only apropos. We share the same sentiments when it comes to music being wrapped in sensuality, mystery, seduction, glamour, style, lust and passion – in sonnet shades of sex appeal.

Laura Shaffer is featured with me on the cover of this issue.


Flavors of romance and desire. Stirring lust-filled cocktails of music is just my thing. Serving forbidden fruits of temptation on a platter of down-tempo grooves, rhyming couplets of sensual lyrics, and a velvet-like sound to caress the soul.

This is where I’m gonna cause some controversy – jazz is definitely not known for being “sexy”. Why? Because most of it is too mathematical, its complexities can be a bit too much to swallow. And as much as I absolutely love and respect the genre, I’ll say it again… it’s just not sexy. Well, there are a very few chosen exceptions; Julie London being one of them.

This is where my interests lie. I personally would love jazz to be in the mainstream market, to be accessible and palatable to any listener – so my approach has been to strip the art down and clothe it in sexy lingerie. For those that haven’t heard my music, when asked how I would describe my style, I generally say… “If Chet Baker, Sade and Leonard Cohen had a threesome, I’d be that musical lovechild.” Sade for her grooves and sensuality, Chet Baker for his haunting jazz style, and Leonard Cohen for his deep smokey voice.

Listen and you decide. If nothing else, I hope I can take you through a room of love, romance and desire. To just let go and enjoy.

With love,

Niles Thomas

#crossoverjazz #jazz #jazzmusic #romance #desire #sensuality #sensualmusic

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