Intermediate Jazz Conception

Jim Snidero has added another volume to his Jazz Conception series. Intermediate Jazz Conception features 15 songs based on chord changes to “St. Thomas”, “On Green Dolphin Street”, “Confirmation”, “Well You Needn’t” and others. The Alto version features Jim Snidero (as do all the other Alto versions of his books), the Tenor version features Ted Nash.

For style and sound, all these books are excellent….

You’d be hard pressed to find a better sound on Alto than Jim Snidero’s. On tenor, previous versions of the book have featured Walt Weiskopf and Eric Alexander, who are excellent players. However, I think Ted Nash’s sound is great in this book. I’d say better than the other two (but that is just my opinion).

The book’s tunes. Honestly, the tunes (or etudes) in this volume are lack luster. The first tune, “Splank Street”, has a great sound to it, but the tune never goes anywhere unlike in previous Jazz Conception books (IE: Basie’s Blues). “St. Sonny” is ok, “Confirmed” and “Freedom” are good. But there is nothing that just screams “cool” to me. In the original Jazz Conception book we had a ton of cool tunes like “Passages”, “Bird’s Blues”, or “Groove Blues” to name a few. But this volume, they are playable, but….not memorable.

Rating. It’s a solid edition to the Jazz Conception series. I give it a 8. I love Ted Nash’s playing in this book. But the tunes are not as good as they have been in previous Jazz Conception books. I’d still love to see Jim Snidero tackle a more contemporary play-along. Something that is really lacking out there.

Future Of MP3 and Surround Sound

Wired magazine is running a story pondering the MP3 format, how long it will last, and where surround sound is going to fit in. Basically, it looks like it will be around for a while even though better formats, like AAC or MP3Pro, are out. AAC is part of the MPEG4 standard, but a lot of people, like the geeks on Slashdot have issues with Fairplay encoded AACs (or Digital Rights Management (DRM) AACs. Stuff you buy off iTunes Store for example).

For myself, I gave up encoding to MP3 years ago. Most everything I encode now is 160 or 192 (due to cymbals in some jazz recordings getting “washed out” at 160) bit AACs. They sound great on my iPod (and new iPod video), and on both my stereo systems (studio and home).

I see AAC and MPEG4 winning out over other formats, though we will probably have to put up with WMA (Microsoft) formats for a while longer.

iPod “Video”

After nearly 3 years of faithful service, my 3rd generation iPod died. It wasn’t the battery. It was the hard drive. The hard drive finally decided to check out. I was sad.

For the last 2 or 3 weeks, I’ve been going through iPod withdrawal. Shuttling my music files between home and the studio is a pain. I’ve been using a “portable HD” that I usually use to backup my stuff. Plus, those nights when you want to listen to music before going to bed? Or in the car?

So, it was a choice between an iPod Nano or an iPod (with video). The Nano is very nice. A number of my students have them. However, 4 gigs is just too small. My finale files I transfer back and forth take up nearly 500megs, plus if I wanted to put all my Aebersold play-alongs on there, I couldn’t. So, I decided to go with the iPod. Wow…..

(Update: 02/21 21:00 GMT by E :The Aebersold AACs/MP3s take up about 10 gigs. I don’t have all the playalongs, but I have 85-90% of them)

First off, it “looks bigger”. But it is not. In fact, it is the same width, and the depth is almost half that of my 15 gig iPod. It looks bigger due to the screen. And the screen is absolutely incredible. Clear, color, crisp. Man, in 3 years they have done wonders. I haven’t watched any videos on it, but I imagine they look great.

Sound quality is great. I plugged in the standard headphone and it sounds great. I plugged in my Shure headphones, and it sounds “greater”.

Two bad things. First is the case. It’s really flimsy. I am planning on getting a better case ASAP. I don’t want any scratches. Second bad thing, no dock. My previous iPod came with a nice little dock, this one comes with nothing. They will sell you one for like $40. Um. No. Not right now, thanks.

Rating. 8 out of 10. No dock and a poor case are the two points taken off. They could have at least done a clip case like what came with the 3rd generation iPod. And no dock, that’s just cheap Apple.

Update: 02/28 08:50 GMT by E :Found another interesting thing. When you unplug the headphones while playing, the iPod will put what it was playing on Pause for you. That is a very nice little thing to have.

Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band Play-Along Series

This is pure gold. 10 songs, playing with the Gordon Goodwin band. The solos are written out. The chart is there. Everything. You get a small clip of the band playing the tune (full band), and then you get the band minus your part and the solos. It’s the actual recording. Hunting Wabbits, yes, it’s the same as the recording. If you listen hard, you can hear a very faint bleed in from the solos.

You need to get this. You need to get both the Alto and the Tenor versions as the written solos are not the same in both books (IE: the solo for Swingin for the Fences is in the Alto book, but not in the Tenor. The solo for Jazz Police is in the Tenor book, but not the Alto).

On a scale of 10, I give this series of books a 12. No, a 14. Hell, ok, 15. It’s good stuff. Very good stuff.

Update: 02/17 21:49 GMT by E :You can get the book via Aebersold, or J.W. Pepper

2006 Grammy Winners

Congrats to Gordon Goodwin for winning “Instrumental Arrangement” for his “Incredits”. Sonny Rollins won the “Jazz Instrumental Solo” for “Why Was I Born?”. Wayne Shorter Quartet won “Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group” for “Beyond the Sound Barrier,” and the Dave Holland Big Band won the “Large Jazz Ensemble Album” for “Overtime”.

Too bad Gordon didn’t win for Jazz Ensemble as well. Then we would have had a Saxophone sweep at the Grammys.

Silent Saxophone Practice

Ok. Brass instruments have had that Silent Brass system for a while. Most sax players wish they would use it all the time ;-). Now, it seems saxophone players can have something similar.

E-Sax is a new case/silent practice thing. Interesting stuff. Looks really funny, but they say it works. You can even do Karaoke with it. Woohoo!

I have always been hoping for some sort of noise cancelling system to come out. A system where you’d hook a mic up, and while you play a digital box takes your sound, and then produces and blasts out the inverse and cancels out the sound. Perhaps someday….