Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Red bass guitar photo shoot with Kim”)

Kim was one of those “I’m not sure if I can really do this” type of model. You get those types from time to time. While she was very interested in the beginning doubt started to creep in as it came time to shoot the session. I had to psychologically convince her that she was going to do fine. As with most models, she started to relax more as time moved on. She decided on her own location. She wasn’t sure of what to wear and I simply told her  “Be you.” After her pictures were posted she decided she liked them and now she may be receptive to doing more in the future. When it comes to doing these types of photo shoots, I don’t turn anyone down. I firmly believe there is “beauty in everyone” and my job as a photographer is “prove it.” You don’t need to be a certain age, size or dress type to be featured with me. You only need to “be yourself.” I would like to thank Kim and I hope you enjoy her pictures. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Next?”)

When it comes to the music world, I am having difficulty understanding how we have been losing so many big name artists at such an early age. Michael Jackson, (who had enough money to afford the greatest of health care) died at the early age of 51. There were reports that he not only wore surgical masks at times to prevent germs but was even photographed sleeping in hyperbaric chambers for his heath. Prince was reportedly a “health nut” who did all he could to stay in shape and in good condition. There are a lot of big name acts that never made it to 60 years of age. Teddy Pendergrass, Rick James, Gerald Levert, Luther Vandross, Barry White, Davy Jones, Frank Zappa, Whitney Houston, and Selena just to name a few. I am not sure if this has any significance at all, but I do know that “now” is the time to start searching for and acknowledging the “stars of tomorrow.” When old stars start fading from view it only makes room for “newer stars to shine.” Prince was a great entertainer, businessman, and songwriter. Who do we know of in the new generation that can match what he brought to the table? Right now the closest one I can think of is “possibly” Bruno Mars, but even with the success he has had he still has not reached the levels that Prince or Michael Jackson achieved. When it comes to Michael I can’t think of anyone from the new generation who comes close to matching his success ratio. Michael worked hard at perfecting his career and he had shows where people would faint just at the more “sight” of him. In all fairness Beyonce has been doing well with her career. I just heard that she has a new CD coming out entitled “Lemonade.” The last time she put out a new CD it initially “broke records” in sales just from the mere mention of it coming out. However once people actually heard the cuts the sales started “leveling out.” Her popularity has been “high” for quite a while now, but as she grows into her “30’s” how much longer can she last? The music world is not as lucrative as it once was. People don’t really buy CD’s anymore, and with the high costs of promotion it is difficult to sustain a marketing plan in music where returns are never guaranteed to exceed investment. The industry is struggling, but can that be because of a lack of decent talent? Did these old stars set the bar so high that the newer generation can’t match it? With so many legends leaving us so early, the time to find out is “now.” It is “NOT” just about the talent. It is the business plan used to promote and market that talent. New artists need to learn the business so that they can make a change in the industry (because right now the industry needs an infusion of new blood). I am waiting to see what happens next… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


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Gerald Levert and Brett  Jolly in concert



Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“A sign of things to come?”)

Recently I have had to deal with medical issues regarding family and other things. I realize that life can never be perfect. I even felt a sense of loss after the recent deaths of Prince and Billy Paul. However, yesterday a strong rain came through my area and right after it ceased I went outside and saw this:



Not one, but “two” rainbows in the sky. Now I don’t know about many other places, but it is quite rare to see “any” rainbow in the Philadelphia area. To actually see “2” rainbows was awesome. I am glad I took the picture quickly, because the rainbows didn’t stay up there long at all. In life, it is important for rainbows to appear, especially after times that seem down. No, I was not going through any type of depression or anything like that, but my family has been going through a lot lately. Did the rainbow have any real significance? No, but seeing it made a difference to me anyway. Positive signs help us to keep the faith, and whether it is “light at the end of the tunnel or rainbows in the sky” we often need something to encourage us. Today is a new day. If you are able to read this then today is a new day for you as well. Your “rainbow of life” could be the fact that you “got up this morning.” I am not trying to go into “reverend mode” but rather making my own observations. Most people will never get to see rainbows “unless they keep their heads to the sky.” How significant is that? I hope your sights and your aspirations are set on “higher levels in life.” Often what you see is what you look for… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


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Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Billy Paul’s last recorded live version of Me and Mrs. Jones”)

A promised, here is the last version of Billy Paul singing his classic hit “Me and Mrs Jones” with me, Brett Jolly on Bass (and my brother Bill Jolly on keyboards). This was done at the Clef Club on March 8, 2016 and Billy passed away April 24, 2016. This song is one of the greatest classics of all time, and he will be sorely missed. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer

Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Remembering my personal experiences with Billy Paul”)

Legendary singer Billy Paul just passed away at the age of 81. He was a former boss of mine who I traveled and toured with for quite a while. He had arguably one (or two) of the biggest hits in history with “Your song” and his classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” While he accomplished a lot musically, he also was a great humanitarian and he would give the shirt off his back to just about anyone in need. He was never too big to reach out to someone to encourage them, and everyone who ever worked with him will tell you that. He was born “Paul Williams” but the bosses at Philly International records thought his name was “too plain,” henceforth they reversed it around and named him “Billy Paul.”  Billy was brought up on the streets of North Philadelphia and at some point he became a product of that environment. Billy had a great career, but he also had a major “drug habit.” He told me many stories about him hanging out with Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Richard Pryor (all well known drug addicts) and getting high together. There were times when he was so high that he had to be “directed to the microphone” just to sing his show. The great thing about life is that it is not about “how you start” but rather about “how you finish.” Billy had been clean and sober for years and was a great role model for those suffering through the vices of addiction. Billy was “funny.” On a 10 hour plane ride to Brazil you could hear him cracking jokes the “entire time.” My cheeks would hurt from  laughing so hard. There is not enough time in a day to tell you “all” the great stories about him, but I think the most important thing to know is that “Billy cared.” He was caring to a fault some times, because he never wanted to turn anyone away. Overseas his career was “much bigger” than it was here in the United States. Overseas he would perform in huge coliseums and here in the states he would do much more “moderate gigs.” He was still a prankster and a joker, one day asking me to store a bottle of wine in my bag for him. I told him that I was the worst one to trust because “everyone knew that I didn’t drink” and they would eventually figure out that I smuggled the bottle for him. The ironic part of his career was that even though he had major drug issues he still managed to “outlive” most of the other artists at Philly International “records. His last performance was a little of a month ago, and I played for him at the Clef Club here in Philadelphia. I saw the video but I can’t figure out how to upload it yet. Once I do, I will post it here. In the meantime, I am posting an interview that I actually videoed at Phillycam here in downtown Philly. My camera filmed this video and it is a very in depth interview of Billy Paul. I hope you enjoy it, and my deepest condolences to his family. May he rest eternally in God’s hands.

Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Remembering Prince”)

For some reason I always thought that one day I would have the opportunity to perform onstage one day with Prince. I felt the same way with Michael Jackson but that never happened either. However, I did “come close.” For the Radio One 5th anniversary I was initially supposed to play for a “duet” featuring James Brown and Prince. Just the thought of that was truly exciting in my mind. However, during that time James had made some “off the wall comments” about “putting all women in their places by use of physical force” and Prince was going through a divorce at the time, so the duet notion “fell apart.” I did, however, have the very “briefest of conversations with him” at his own concert. I was sitting on the ground floor near the stage entrance and  Jill Scott was performing. I happened to look to my right at the entrance and this little head peaks through 3 times, looks at me and waves hello to me each time. The third time I said to him, “When are you coming up to the stage?” He put up one finger as if to say “In one minute” and then turned toward this young woman and walked hand in hand back down the corridor. As I had mentioned earlier, I am good friend with Prince’s cousin, and one day while we both were driving to New York (a 2 hour drive) we had a long talk about him. A couple of things that people may (or may not) know was that Prince was a great basketball player. As short as he was, his game was awesome. Also, Prince reveled in “control.” When it came to his shows, other musicians could introduce things that they would like to put in the show, but the fact of the matter is that Prince liked to control “everything…including each and every note.” It was “his way” or “no way.” When I saw him perform, he literally performed for over 3 hours. This man had a real love for music, and he loved to hear himself. He actually “wore his band out.” They were looking tired after about 2 hours, but Prince was like the “Energizer Bunny” often performing some songs with just him and  his guitar while his band needed a break. One thing I definitely need to mention was that Prince was an “incredible businessman.” When conventional radio stopped playing his new music he found other ways to sell his music. At his concerts he would give away his new CD’s “free.” However, the prices of tickets for his shows was rather exorbitant and high. That’s when I realized that the CD’s he was “giving away” weren’t free at all. The cost of the CD’s was paid through the ticket prices for his show. To me, that was an “excellent” business move. Of course, Prince had episodes of going against the grain of the music industry. He deplored the fact that he didn’t outright “own his own music” and at one point that made him change his name from Prince to some sort of symbol that no one knew how to pronounce. Eventually Prince got his name back, but he took a lot of his songs “off” of Youtube. I am not sure of his rationale for doing so but if you try to find a lot of his music on Youtube you won’t see it there. Chalk that up to yet another one of Prince’s business moves. No matter what you may think of him, the one thing you “have to say” was that he became extremely “successful.” We lost a real icon in the music industry, and no one put on a show like he did. May he rest eternally in God’s hands. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer. Here is an interview with Prince:

Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“What makes this tune SOOOO awesome”)

You don’t have to even be a fan of Marvin Gaye to appreciate his contributions to the world of music. Granted, he had his troubles during his lifetime, but he always managed to “channel his issues into his music.” You can say what you want, but Marvin was a “true artist.” That means that Marvin “wrote and sang what he felt.” This particular classic is great in “so many” ways. First, you can feel his words and lyrics through how well he sings. His words are “clear and absolutely heartfelt” (as though he really meant it). The flavor of this tune is phenomenal, and most of it comes through his singing (The instrumental part is good by itself but without the amazing vocals this song would not have as much of an impact). The message is clear and strong. After hearing this you “know precisely what is on his mind.” In fact, the message couldn’t be “any clearer.” Finally, if you listen carefully, Marvin sang and put his “own background parts” on this song. In other words, all the background you hear is actually Marvin himself singing. If you listen to the track, the background parts are nothing short of “incredible.” I can’t even imagine how he “thought up” the intricate parts to fit this song. All in all, this tune was “masterfully done.” You don’t have to like it to appreciate it. The one thing that worked for me was that “whenever I felt like things were bad I could always listen to a Marvin Gaye song and know that in his world he felt worse.” However, his energy was always reflected through his music, and that is why songs like this  will live forever. This song is “Awesome” and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


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Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Have you ever noticed how awesome this universe is?”)

There have been times at night when I would come home, get out of my car and  just “look up into the sky.” To see the moon and all of these other “lit up” stars amazes me. Most times I can’t help but think that since I am looking at other distant planets that there might be someone (or something) on those planets looking right back at me. There are also so many secrets to the universe that I’m sure we don’t know yet. What is also amazing is that the sun has been the fireball planet to spread light on  these other worlds. How is it that this one planet has circumstances so different that it contributes to our own lifelines? Just the thought of that is incredible to me. Also, have you ever sat near the window on a plane and just looked down at the landscape of Earth? Most areas are really wonderful to see from such a high elevation. I think that sometimes we are so used to the particular areas that we reside in that we fail to see all the other beautiful things that nature provides. There are times when I play gigs near the ocean, and whenever I get a moment (even if it is only during a 15 minute break) I like to walk out on the beach to it. The sounds of the water rushing out to great me is mysterious yet calming. Even at night I will venture out because it is just so phenomenal to me. I sometimes wonder what will happen should the oceans ever “dry up?” I also wonder what would happen if the sun should ever “burn out?” What would happen if our air “just left us?” Besides the obvious answers, I just wonder how all these fantastic factors could align themselves in such a way as to bring us “life?” Whether you have noticed it or not, this is a beautiful world we live in. I just wish we could find a way to “take better care of it.” I am just having a reflective moment today, and I thank you for checking out my Daily Thought. As always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


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Dionne Warwick and Brett Jolly (in background) in concert


Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Is it essential that all musicians must read music?”)

I am certain that there will be parents out there who will vehemently disagree with today’s Daily Thought topic. When you are putting out money so that your child can receive the best training musically the last thing you want to hear is that your efforts are somehow being wasted. However, I believe in letting the truth out. I will start out with my own story. When I was 4 years old, my parents brought a piano into the house. It was awesome and I was so happy. In fact, I was so elated by it that the very “next morning” I had learned a song on it. My parents were thrilled, and at that point my mother decided that she wanted to broaden my musical abilities by putting me into piano lessons. With most piano lessons teachers tended to teach students how to read sheet music. My issue was that I “loved playing by ear and I didn’t like lessons.” I was horrible at “sight reading” and to this day I “still can’t read sheet music.”Yet I have done some great gigs musically and played for some of the biggest names in music during my career. I do realize that  my story might not be normal because I have “perfect pitch” and that allows me to learn a tune just as soon as I hear it. My skills have helped me tremendously, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that other musicians have the same gifts. With that being said, how many gigs have I actually had where I “needed” to read sheet music? I have been in this business for many years and I can count “on one hand” the amount of gigs I had where reading was “mandatory.” In one of those gigs I performed with the New Jersey orchestra at the NJPAC center in Northern New Jersey. They actually “placed a chart in front of me and told me that we were about to play this tune.” I was in a really weird state of mind because they were expecting me to do something that I couldn’t do in front of a large audience. At that point I decided to let my ear do the work for me, and I listened to the song as we played it, and actually picked up the tune by ear while “pretending” to study the chart. For me it was easy to follow the progressions of the music and after the song was finished the orchestra members congratulated me on a “job well done.” I am not one to tell other musicians that they have to follow my lead. In fact, if your goal is to be an orchestra player then “by all means” learn how to read music. However, if you play a rhythm section instrument like keys, bass of drums (and don’t plan on playing classical music) then learning to read may not be in your best interests. I know of many musicians who went to school and got “Masters degrees” in music only to come out graduated and “unemployed.” While I can still “learn”  how to read music I choose not to… I am perfectly fine with allowing my ears to work for me. So far that has been “very” successful. Do whatever you feel is best, but make sure that you “love what you do.” Music is expression, and what you play depends heavily on “what you feel…” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


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Brett Jolly