On September 10, 2019, Minneapolis-based jazz singer Cade Bittner released an eight-track album titled I’ve Gotta Be Me, which debuted at #5 on the iTunes Jazz charts.
Featuring timeless songs from the Great American Songbook, this record hosts tunes like “Taking A Chance On Love,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “My Funny Valentine,” “L-O-V-E,” “Autumn Leaves,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” and “Smile.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a jazz record without a duet. Track number seven is a powerful duet with vocalist Shoshana Bean. Together Cade and Shoshana harmonize and trade melodies back and forth in perfect timing to the 1963 classic “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again,” which was originally made famous by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.
The last song on the record, “Smile,” ends with an adorable recording of Cade’s son Parker singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” earning his very first album credit.
The production and instrumentation from musicians Jeff Bailey (bass), Tommy Barbarella (piano/keys), Pete Whitman’s (saxophone) and Adam Meckler (trumpet) is top-notch. You’ll hear wonderful piano runs in “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “Taking A Chance On Love,” soothing saxophone solos in “Autumn Leaves” and “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” and fluid trumpet rendition in “My Funny Valentine.”
Cade’s phrasing is almost conversational, creating an intimate listening experience for his fans. He slips into the occasional effortless vibrato as the bass strings snap, the keys dance, and the snare rustles.
There is a rawness and realness to Cade’s performance. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to something that wasn’t overly processed and it was much needed. Cade is a breath of fresh air in a world of “perfect pitch” and dehumanizing autotune.
A seasonal feeling comes over me while listening to this album and transports me to the memory of snuggling up next to a crackling fire and sipping hot chocolate as the snow frosts the windowpane.
Enjoy our interview with Cade Bittner, below.
Cade, Where did you grow up?
I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in the Bemidji, MN, then shortly after birth my family moved to a farm in Indiana where I was homeschooled. We later relocated back to Minnesota (Fridley), where I went to middle school & high school.
What’s your musical background?
I first learned to sing by singing along with Whitney Houston and The Bodyguard soundtrack – she was pretty much my first voice teacher. My Dad was a drummer and loved music so I grew up around music and rhythm.
I went to college for musical theatre and studied voice via The Julliard School. My training was extraordinary. It taught me technique and gave me a palette to work from.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I have so many in so many different genres! Some that relate to this record are Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, and Shoshana Bean.
Where did you record this record?
We recorded the album between Wild Recording Studios (Minneapolis), Yellow Sound Label (New York City) and Lowetone Studios (Minneapolis).
How’s the jazz scene in Minnesota?
The jazz scene in any city is its own special thing but the music scene in Minnesota is a force to be reckoned with! I decided to record my first EP Survivor in L.A.
After a few years into my residence in Minneapolis, I was shocked to learn how enormous the music scene was here as well as how many talented artists and musicians and producers live here!
From independent to major artists, Minnesota is home to some well-known artists! That being said, I would have to say that a few of my favorite venues for jazz in Minnesota are the Dakota Jazz Club & Icehouse.
How did you connect with Shoshana?
I met Shoshana a little over fifteen years ago while we were both living in New York City. We became instant friends and I became obsessed with her voice.
I knew that I always wanted to record with her but I wanted it to be the right project and moment in our lives. Fifteen plus years later the timing was right. Our recording of “Get Happy / Happy Days Are Here Again” is a highlight both personally and professionally.
Tell us about your son Parker and the idea of having him on your record.
Parker is three years old and loves music. And he loves to sing! I had the idea early on to somehow record him singing to put him on the album as a hidden track. Sort of my throwback to the days where some artists would have hidden track after their last track on their album.
A big part of my reason for making the record was to introduce him to the Great American Songbook with the hope that he would love, appreciate, and respect the timeless canon of music.
Please explain the reason behind your mission of giving the proceeds of the album to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
In 2018 I was nominated for Man of the Year by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society—a fundraising competition over the course of 10 weeks leading up to their annual gala. With the help of a fierce team, I raised nearly $200K and was named the 2018 Man of the Year!
The experience changed my life and the place from which I operate. Everything I do now has to either give back or contribute to changing the world for better. Being a father has also revealed to me the importance of action. So it was and easy decision to donate the album proceeds to the important life-saving work that LLS does.
Do you plan to release original music in the future?
Yes! I have a few writing collaborations in the works right now that will eventually result in something really cool. Stay tuned! If you feel like opening your heart judgment-free, you can check out my debut EP Survivor on iTunes.
I have occasionally struggled with that EP but have come to learn that it represents a time and space in my life. Am I the strongest songwriter? No. But I am a dreamer and a man of action (as my Mother proclaimed). And as an artist— it is all about the journey and longevity.
Any upcoming events?
I have a few exciting things coming up that I am not able to officially announce yet but stay tuned!