Food and conversation go together - conversation with family every night, conversation with friends at a dinner party. So, I'd just as soon do without music at the table, even though I almost always cook to music or talk on public radio. But some get-togethers are as much a party as they are a meal, and then, the right music sets the tone wonderfully. Take a barbecue. Good friends celebrating summer with a casual, easy, tasty feast. Set the speakers in the windows, crank the stereo, and play this classic mix of CD's:

"Louis Armstrong and the Hot Fives, Volumes 1 & 2", Columbia CK 44049 and CK 44253. Here are the great strutting jazz classics from the 1920's Chicago sessions.

The Deighton Family: "Rolling Home", Green Linnet GLCD 1116. Joyful, uninhibited music making, including fabulous, quirky covers of old rock ‘n roll songs.

Handel: "Water Music - Suite, and The Musick for the Royal Fireworks", Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. L'Olseau-Lyre 400 059 2. Outdoor party music meant for a King, led by one of my favorite commentators on The Splendid Table, the smart and witty Christopher Hogwood.

"Ray Charles and Betty Carter", DCC Compact Discs DZS 039. One of the great albums of all time. Recorded in 1961 to the arrangements of Marty Paich, here is a collection of superb renditions of standards.

Benny Goodman: "Small Groups: 1941-1945". Swinging sides made with small combos, presenting Benny at his most relaxed.

If you can't find these CDs locally, try the Public Radio MusicSource.