Talking Jazz

I came across this website:

New from musician, author, journalist Ben Sidran, Talking Jazz includes an eighty page booklet with essays from writers, critics and musicians, classic photos from Lee Tanner, and 24 compact discs featuring conversations with 60 jazz greats, recorded during a five year period for Sidran’s award winning NPR program “Sidran On Record”.

I’m wondering if anyone heard this collection, or perhaps the original NPR broadcasts. Any good?

All Plastic Saxophone

There seems to be a resurgence in this idea. Enter the Vibrotosax.

To create more saxophonist in the world is our prime concern. Our designer team need to accomplish 3 objectives….Design a saxophone that everyone can afford, provide a standard fingering configuration and producce a solid saxophone sound. The solution: to replace brass with polymer. By doing so we not only change the material but also the process of saxophone manufacturing which has remained unchanged since 1843.

Besides the strange English (they are a Thailand company and refer to the King of Thailand in their about page), aren’t we experiencing a strange sense of Deja Vu? I mean……haven’t we been there, done that?

John Coltrane Reference Book

Here is a review of the forementioned John Coltrane Reference Book.

Porter combines meticulous scholarship with an eye for telling details, the revealing and necessary details about Coltrane’s life and music that constantly open up new perspectives. There is no gratuitous quoting of literary figures irrelevant to Coltrane, or bizarre factoids (the attendance at a New York Museum of Modern Art Chagall show the year Coltrane’s classic quartet recorded at The Village Vanguard (see page 69 in Ratliff).

Though the price is still daunting……$150

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra

Fast Track Ultra PictureI got into recording a while ago, my first interface being an original MOTU 828. That thing works great. However, it is not supported in ProTools, and I kind of want to start using ProTools more. Plus, I want to move it to my home studio to hopefully make it easier to record virtual tracks by connecting my PC and Mac together via the ADAT outputs of the 828. Anyhow, M-Audio came out with a diminutive new little recording box that works with ProTools M-Powered, and supposedly has excellent microphone preamps as well. This box would be their new USB2 Fast Track Ultra interface.
Continue reading M-Audio Fast Track Ultra

Music Education Alliance

This was announced today:

Leaders in their respective fields, Garritan, MakeMusic, Steinberg and Yamaha have formed a partnership that will provide integrated solutions to the music education market in the United States.

Announced at Winter NAMM 2008, the Music Education Software and Hardware (MESH) initiative brings together hardware, software, sound content and curriculum to provide compelling and complete turn-key solutions for today’s music educators, who are often faced with an array of products that can be difficult to navigate and integrate. In addition to aggregating four major components of music education technology into a seamless bundle, the alliance will also provide training to teachers based in the U. S., enabling them to fully utilize the power of computer music technology solutions.

Honestly, why? It sounds to me like a way for school teachers to waste money. Again. Spending thousands of dollars or more on some “solution” to make kids learn better. Money like that could be spent on lowering the student/teacher ratio. Very strange bedfellows as well. Leaders in their fields? Marketing speak at it’s finest!
Continue reading Music Education Alliance

NAMM Show 2008

The NAMM show kicked off the other day. So far, I haven’t seen anything that pops out “Whoa, that’s neat” to me. Some interesting things are:

I haven’t seen anything saxophonish yet……..

Portable Recording Studio with your iPod?

Belkin has a product coming out that looks rather good. Belkin Podcast Studio.

Belkin Podcast Studio is an advanced attachment for your iPod to add high quality recording capabilities. Dual XLR and 1/4-inch channels offer a solid range of recording options. A built-in mic and speaker are powered by their own battery, saving your iPod juice better used for listening to your genius later.

Engadget has some more pictures of it.
Seems no one knows if it has phantom power or not (probably not), and it seems to be 16 bit. Though, if you hook up a iPod Nano to it, and have 4+ gigs of free space, that would easily give you 6 hours of 16bit 44.1Khz recording.
Two potential problems. First, battery life. If it is iPod battery powered, who knows how long it will last. Plus, if it has phantom power on the XLR plugs, that would probably kill the iPod’s battery in no time. Recording on my Marantz flash recorder using phantom power pretty much kills 8 AA batteries if I record 3 hours of stuff.
Second problem, Windows formatted iPods. You can’t get, as far as I know, over 2 gigabyte files on a FAT formatted drive. I tried copying Pirates Of The Caribbean on an FAT (PC) formatted iPod that was 2.6 gigabytes in size. The iPod did not like that. Mac formatted ones didn’t complain.
So, it’s an interesting idea, especially since most everyone already has an iPod, but until we see it actually come out (June?), we can only guess.

Selmer – What Are They Thinking?!?!

I’m not sure what to think about this. Selmer, I gotta ask, why?

Conn-Selmer, Inc. announces the U.S. availability of the limited edition 2006 issue Selmer (Paris) saxophone avian series. In 2005, the Henri Selmer company of Paris embarked on a five-year adventure honoring each of the continents by depicting a native bird in highly detailed hand crafted engraving on its new Reference Series saxophones. Last year’s edition featured the hummingbird of the North American continent. For 2006, Selmer (Paris) has selected the kookaburra bird from the Australian continent. Selmer Paris “bird” models are based on the popular Reference 54 Series saxophones, capturing the essence of the famous Mark VI instruments made in the 1950s and 1960s. Selmer Paris will produce 330 of the standard edition kookaburra alto saxophones for the United States and Canada. The standard kookaburra will feature deluxe hand engraving on the bell, along with a unique case.

Oh, and they have a Flamingo one as well. Personally, I’m holding out for the Lisa Simpson limited edition Selmer Reference series sax for 2008. And the Peter Griffin limited edition Selmer Reference sax for 2009. Oh, and the Bevis and Butthead series in 2010. Why not just offer to engrave a reference series with whatever image you want for an extra $500 or so?

Frank Morgan Dies

I’m a little late on this, probably due to not having internet during this time, but Frank Morgan passed away on December 14th.

Frank Morgan, 73, a jazz saxophonist of impeccable ability, whose claim to the mantle of the celebrated Charlie Parker was clouded by his heroin addiction, died Dec. 14 at his home in Minneapolis. He had colon cancer and kidney failure.

I have a few Frank Morgan albums, and he plays his ass off.

Wii Nodame Cantabile Game

Nodame Cantabile is a Japanese Manga, a TV show, and Anime about a pianist and violinist of a famous pianist who wants to become a conductor. It is a very entertaining Anime. The TV Show, I didn’t care for. The Manga is good. If you went to music school, you’d like it. Brings back memories. Nodame is the name of this unfocused genius piano girl who is a total slob, but has a crush on Shinichi Chiaki (the pianist/violinist who wants to be a conductor).
Anyhow, there is a Wii game coming out that has some interesting things, and potential applications. It’s a little goofy in the beginning, but in the middle you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Wii controller used as a baton. The other instruments, probably not all that great for. But to use a Wii as a baton, now that is pretty darned cool. Can you imagine using this to practice conducting? Maybe some sort of music game where you have to conduct and if you don’t keep time or mess up, the audience starts heckling you. Or maybe the orchestra starts coming apart. Could be pretty cool thing for music people. Probably WAY beyond the scope of this game, but it is very interesting to see stuff like this coming out.

Guitar Wizard

I’m sure all of you have seen or played Guitar Hero. Or perhaps the bigger, and some say better, Rock Band. Here is something even better. Guitar Wizard. I believe it is a new, way better version of this. Done right, it would be very cool. Could be a new way to learn an instrument. Naturally, the company could apply this to any and all instruments, including saxophone. Check out a video of it with the HOT Veronica Belmont.

Recorder Jazz!

I’ve been doing some research for an upcoming article on the Akai EWI, and I’ve been researching Masato Honda. This is the guy, I believe, who played the famous Cowboy Bebop Tank! Alto Saxophone solo. He is also a master of the EWI, frequently playing it with the group T-Square. Anyhow, I came across this video of him playing four recorders with T-Square. Amazing stuff.

I think the most ingenious thing was the “stand” he had them on, and using a vocal microphone to amplify them. Oh, and running them through an effects processor towards the end.

UPDATE: 1/6/08: BTW, if anyone knows exactly what Masato Honda’s EWI setup is/was, that would be great to know. It looks like a 3020, but most of the youtube clips I’ve seen he has his EWI colored, so…..