Sunday, December 30, 2007

A jazzy holiday

A memorable Winter Solstice holiday to be sure. Went to NYC to catch Chick Corea with an amazing lineup at the Blue Note. Yeah, long hike to the Village, followed by standing and waiting for an hour for the show to begin, followed by standing room only, watching the show by the bar... still it was worth it. Chick p, Victor b, Wekyl d, Gambale g, Marienthal s.

Followed by discovering a great new Trumpet artist in Ingrid Jensen at my favorite NYC club 55bar.

Than on to Boston a couple days later to see the great legendary pianist McCoy Tyner (yes, of the John Coltrane Quartet) with young trumpeter Christian Scott.

Does it get any better than that. Thanks Dave, for having us over at your pad in NYC, and following us around the big Apple all night. It was a blast.

Friday, July 27, 2007

iPhone Envy-Treo appreciation

Sure I have iPhone Envy! That gorgeous screen, real web page rendering, best ipod ever, slickest user interface, WiFi. No doubt, the iPhone is groundbreaking technology that pushes wireless mobile devices to a new level.

But wait! I realy dig my Palm Treo 700p. There are many functions I can do that iPhoners can't, like load some great 3rd party apps... IM anyone? You can't configure keyboard shortcuts without a keyboard! I have an SD expansion card, a removable replaceable battery, threaded SMS client, customizable menu screens, cut copy paste, view PDF's and edit MS Office files. I can sync and transfer files via bluetooth. And just like an iPhone, I can surf the web, check email. I have Google Maps, mp3 player, movie player and YouTube. Its not always as slick and well integrated, but the Treo can do it (and with fast 3G, not slow as molases EDGE). Too bad no WiFi like iPhone. Of great importance, I can do almost any function with one hand, even while driving (not recommended... but let's face it, we all do it). I bet it's not so easy to do that on the iPhone.

The palm treo is awsome (BTW, before this I had a blackberry... it sucks). Palm should be more proactive in hyping its great smartphone features versus the iPhone (and Blackberry). But still... when I hold that iPhone, it is like having the future in my hands. Apple innovation has done it once again.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New (Old) way to buy tunes

For the last few years I have been buying virtually all my music digitally. I've been doing it mostly through eMusic a great alternative source with a unique and wonderful jazz collection. Sure, it's a great service at a great price, but one thing has been missing with digital music. Liner Notes, with groovy cover art, complete personell listing, date recorded, and often inciteful commentary and background into the musicians and the recording session. Maybe a better way is to buy used over the Internet. I just scored this Blue Note classic, Hank Mobley, Workout. $6.75 plus $3 for shipping (from Amazon, used-like new condition). For less then $10, under what you would pay on iTunes, you get the tunes, extensive liner notes, rip it DRM-free in whatever format and compression rate you choose, and you have the CD as hard backup. You can't beat that at any digital storefront.

As for the album, Hank Mobley is playing a hard driving tenor sax with a rock solid rhythm section of Paul Chambers-b, Wynton Kelly-p, Philly Joe Jones-d. Grant Green rounds out the sound on guitar. A winning combination for sure. Driving, straight up classic jazz with a soulful, bluesy influence as well.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Prince of BeBop - Greg Abate

Greg Abate is one of the finest alto sax players on the Jazz scene today. With more than 10 albums as a leader, Greg began his career touring with Ray Charles and the Artie Shaw band. His music is deeply rooted in the Bebop tradition of Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderly, though he has his own unique modern voice. As a jazz educator, composer and performer, he has traveled the world spreading the joy and artistry of bebop jazz.

I first heard of Greg when he emailed me about a year ago and asked if my radio station had any of his CD's for airplay. They had about 4 of them, but not any of his recent work. He updated our library with 4 of his newer releases. I dug his playing from the start, and I play him constantly on my radio show. We emailed back and forth a few times. He invited me to a gig he was playing in Connecticut, and I went down to New London CT to see and hear him. When he walked into the jazz club, I could see he was upset and agitated. I walked over to him and introduced myself and asked what was wrong. He said the club owner couldn't pay him and he might just leave. I convinced him to stay and play, which he did, and blew the house down, although there were only about 10-20 patrons at the club. In between sets, he hung out with me and my wife. It was a great night. We continued an email correspondence since then.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I was emailed an invitation to his 60th birthday party at his home. Even though it was on a Saturday night, when I do my show, I couldn't resist the invite. I lined up a fill-in DJ for my show, and we drove to Rhode Island (about 1 1/2 hour drive) to Greg's home, a small modest condo. I expected that he was going to have all his musician friends there and they would be jammin' all night, but when we got there it was just some family members and a few friends. He was surprised we actually came, but said he was glad we did. At first it was awkward, but everyone was so friendly, they made us feel like family. He said he wasn't going to play, but a few of us kept bugging him to. At some point in the evening he called us all down to his basement and broke out his baritone sax, and jammed solo. I had my digital camera and snapped a few shots. Then he took out the tenor sax. I realized I had a movie feature to my camera and caught about 30 seconds as video. Then he pulled out the Alto and played an incredible improvisation on 'Round Midnight. I caught the whole thing as a movie clip on the camera. A little later his girlfriend, Kerry brought out the birthday cake. After that, Greg asked for his flute, and another great solo performance was captured on my digital camera. One of his friends suggested I put it up on YouTube. I've never uploaded video to YouTube before, but it seemed to be a great idea. I asked Greg's permission which he gave me, so I prepped the video files and uploaded them the next morning.

And that's the whole story of those video's taken at Greg Abate's house at his birthday party. Quite an experience! I think I captured how cool it was in those clips.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jazz in NYC

We have re-discovered the jazz clubs in New York. Been doing this about once a month for the last 3. Last week we caught a couple acts in one evening, finishing off the night at the Mecca of Jazz clubs, the Village Vanguard. Man, all the greats have graced this stage. I shot a little movie with my new digi camera.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steve does it again!

In a brilliantly stated essay in the form of an open posting entitled Thoughts on Music, Steve Jobs states that if the four big record companies (Universal, EMI, Sony BMG and Warner) would agree to license DRM-free music, Apple would agree to sell all its music without its FairPlay copy protection in a heartbeat.

Steve makes a compelling case that DRM is unnecessary and does not prevent illegal copying of music anyway. Afterall, 90 percent of all music distributed legally by these same record companies is unprotected in the form of CD's which contain no protection whatsoever. In fact, Jobs says that only 3 percent of music on iPods is purchased from iTunes and has the dreaded DRM. The rest of the music on iPods is obtained from other sources, like files ripped from the owners CD collection.

These statements were made against a backdrop of several European countries pressuring Apple to open up its FairPlay DRM systems to its competitors, in an effort to increase inter-operability between music bought from iTunes and a wide variety of playback devices (other than iPods). Apple says... "Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free."

Will Steve Jobs now go on a crusade to pressure the Big Four to drop its requirement for DRM? How will the record companies react to this. In 2003, Apple changed the face of the music business by offering leagally downloading digital music that played on a great music player, the iPod. Once again, Apple Inc. is poised to change the face of Industry and FREE THE MUSIC.

Check out the full essay here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

WTF, George Bush?

Didn't we just get through an election that was considered to be a referendum on the Iraq war; one that resulted in an overwhelming defeat for Republicans and a repudiation of the war in Iraq? Doesn't every poll show that this country is no longer behind the continuation of this war? Didn't this President form a bi-partisan committee on Iraq, that put forth recommendations to begin a timetable of troop withdrawal and transfer of responsibilities to the Iraqi army? Has not the last three years proven that our military occupation of Iraq has had the exact opposite effect of what was intended? This colossal miscalculation has resulted in more terror, more torture, more killing, more violence and lawlessness, more hatred of the US, more destabilization in the region, than before we overthrew Saddam Hussein. In fact, it would be difficult to refute the notion that this war is an illegal action, justified by misrepresentations about weapons of mass destruction and trumped up charges that Iraq was an imminent threat to the US.

So what is the justification for escalating this conflict by adding another 20,000 US troops. Mark my words; we are only headed for the slippery slope of more casualties, more destabilization, greater terrorist activity, more hatred and distrust of US policy. Hearing the term escalation reminds me all too much of Vietnam, and that is very disturbing. 20,000 troops is just enough to escalate the violence, and most likely not enough to squelch the insurgency. That would probably take 200,000 troops, and without a draft, and without a just cause, that simply won't happen.

George, what gives you the right to take this action? It is so clearly contrary to the will of the US people, your own bi-partisan advisory committee, and our newly elected representatives in Congress. The Bush oligarchy has reached new heights of incompetency and arrogance. Democracy has been stomped on, smothered, and stifled by none other than our own King George for the last 6 years, and this troop surge is the latest and greatest example. It is a sad day for America.

Damn, I really wanted to blog about the Apple iPhone... that will have to wait for another day.