Sheet Of The Week – Paradise (Coldplay)

Another Coldplay song. Simple. Effective.

  Paradise by Coldplay for Eb Instruments (74.7 KiB, 370 hits)
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  Paradise by Coldplay for Bb Instruments (81.3 KiB, 171 hits)
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However, I do think that the Piano Guys (who did that really cool Cello Wars video amongst other excellent videos) take and video of the song are way way better than Coldplay’s version.

Review: Just Joe’s Music Saxophone Gel Strap

A saxophonist can never have too many reeds, nor have too many neck straps. Over the years, I have had a plethora of neck straps, ranging from the Ray Hyman strap, to various no-name padded ones, to that newish Rico Strap, various Neotech Straps, and even the Oleg Ergonomic strap.

They all have their good and bad points (well, most of them). For instance, I love the micro-adjustments you can do on the Hyman strap. It’s a great strap for doing Pit work. The Rico strap is great for playing curved soprano (but sorta sucks for tenor), and the Oleg strap is nice, but it gets one’s neck hot and wet and…..that is just not a good thing. The Oleg strap also is a little funky to adjust, and sorta looks like one of those Texas cowboy tie things.

Gelstrap1

Enter the Saxophone Gel Strap. I first heard about it when David Valdez had his Neck Strap Smackdown. And paid a little more attention to it when David supposedly talked about it on SOTW (not a good idea usually) and getting so pissed off that he even did a scientific analysis of how the strap enhances the sound of a saxophone (read both the links to get some background on it) and quit SOTW (bravo sir) in disgust. I guess the arm chair philosophers there will have to find someone else to push around!

Anyhow, so, I finally obtained the fabled strap. Was it like the red sea parting? Rays of light piercing through the clouds? Choirs singing Beethoven’s 9th?

The jury is still out about it’s biblical abilities, but I will say these things so far. First, it is THE MOST COMFORTABLE STRAP EVER. It takes what I hated about the Oleg strap, the lack of padding/adjusting it, and fixed it. Fixed it big time. I mean, the Gel Strap looks nearly identical to the Oleg strap if you have them side by side. But the Gel Strap has an awesome level of padding on it. Plus, it is a lot easier to adjust the Gel Strap than the Oleg one. I think it is the thickness of the cords in the Oleg strap and maybe because mine has a lot of wear on it (it’s probably a decade or more old). But the Oleg Strap has never been a panacea for adjustment. I’ve always hated adjusting the height on it. It was just the most comfortable strap to play tenor with. Well, now the Gel Strap is the strap that is the most comfortable and I’m not bitching about the pain in the butt it is to adjust.

Now, the whole “does it make the saxophone sounds better thing”. I have tried it out for several days now (nearly a week), done a rehearsal on it, taught with it on, and did a gig with it. Did I notice a difference? Yes, I did. Though it is very subtle. For instance, the middle D on my alto seems to ring slightly more than if I played it with the Oleg strap. Or the Neotech strap. In fact, I did have the Oleg and the Gel Strap on at the same time, and switched between them. It is there, that little bit of difference. I think what I really need to do is a recording test of it, to see if it is actually something that is audible or if I am just hearing things.

So, verdict? If you want a really nice strap, and were looking at the Oleg strap (which is great), consider the Gel Strap. They are the same price basically. And get the brass hook version. Actually, if in general you are looking for a strap that is comfortable, won’t make your neck break out like it is in a sauna, then get the Gel Strap. It’s probably double the price of a typical Neotech strap, but it is going to last a long long time, and its way more comfortable. It’s worth the extra money.

Great design, love the padding. The cords and slider for adjusting the strap are vast improvements over the Oleg strap, and the cords are thinner and don’t seem to be made of the stuff like the Oleg one (so maybe they will wear better?). And the brass hook provides a solid, authoritative hold on your horn.

10 out of 10.

Slow News Day On CNN: The Making Of A Prodigy (Grace Kelly)

It’s obviously a slow weekend when this story about what makes a prodigy is on the front of CNN. Not that CNN is really a relevant news source nowadays with their Twitter usage and general lack of a cohesive professional face.

So, we see these “prodigy” stories ever few years. Grace Kelly is the current one with that mantel (from whomever hands them out). Previously it was Alex Hann, then probably some people before him. I remember as a high schooler Amani A.W. Murray as being THE next big thing. The prodigy of the 90s. Charlie Parker reincarnated. Yet I can find just one CD of his? But he was all the rage…..heck, he made me hit the practice room with more zeal than ever before…..

Anyhow, so, big piece on Grace Kelly. The most interesting comment though was from John Renborn which was

How much did Grace’s parents pay CCN to write yet another publicity stunt for Grace? Her parents have paid Lee Konitz, Phil Woods and others A LOT OF MONEY to play with her. Think Jessica Simpson on sax. Why didn’t CNN ask her about this? She is not a prodigy. She is self centered. Ask her why no one at Berklee wanted to be involved with her. She is not a musicians’ musician. With Grace, it is a carefully organized and well funded campaign by her parents to promote a semi talented performer. Ted Gioia, the noted critic and jazz historian, saw right though her as did the NY Times and others. Take a pretty Korean girl, dress her up in tight, low hung leather pants, high heel sneakers and a tank top, give her a sax… You get the picture. Now she wants to go viral aka like Britney Spears. Pathetic.
As a manager and long time jazz promoter I can tell you she is not a prodigy, not even close. She is a somewhat talented kid who plays decent sax, sings so-so, has parents who have spent hundreds of thousand of dollars promoting her by paying well known sax players, and is not deserving of the another poorly researched article.

I think the better example would have been Lana Del Rey or Rebecca Black but whatever. Grace sorta reminds me of Saori Yano, but Saori Yano is way way hotter. Same sorta thing though. Semi-talented to talented performer using sex appeal. Not like that never happens….gosh, using sex appeal. Though Grace has none for me….maybe that is why they are using the Prodigy approach?

Did the parents pay for this? I know that there is another local music store that frequently gets little lame ass write-ups in the newspaper about what they are doing. Like their stupid group Uke classes. Or that they are selling plastic trombones. So yeah, maybe Grace Kelly’s parents did grease the way for this story on CNN. Would not surprise me in the least. When she gets into Newsweek or Time then I’ll be impressed. CNN? Not impressed.

Sheet Of The Week – Almost Easy (Avenged Sevenfold)

If you haven’t heard of them, you should. Quite a versatile band.

  Almost Easy by Avenged Sevenfold for Eb Instruments (70.3 KiB, 144 hits)
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  Almost Easy by Avenged Sevenfold for Bb Instruments (76.3 KiB, 81 hits)
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Review: EWI Case

Rittercase

I have had an Akai EWI4000S for a while now (5 years? More?) I should probably at some point do a review of it and why you should get the 4000S instead of the crippled USB only version (or maybe that is the review?). But what I can say is that I saw on Amazon the case that I totally love for it, which I had a HELL of a time getting from the Woodwind and Brasswind (backorder hell basically).

 

The Ritter Soprano Saxophone case works great for an EWI. It’s stylish, has enough compartments for your iRig, 1/4″ cable, and power supply. The current cases have a large RITTER logo on them (mine is several years old and doesn’t have that), but the basic design is the same. Check it out.

Ritter Soprano Case 1

Ritter Soprano Case 2

Side note…..if anyone has a line on where to get the clip in battery thing for an EWI 4000S….I need one. Mine is lost.

App Review: Circular Breathing by Walter Beasley

There are a TON of Apps available for iOS. One app, Circular Breathing by Walter Beasley caught my eye after I read about it on a website I subscribe to in my RSS feeds.

Ok, lets get the good stuff out of the way before I start tearing the “App” apart. It’s a fairly good tutorial/demo of how to circular breathe.

Now, the bad stuff. And there is a lot. First, there is this FREAKING ANNOYING intro music for everything. It was cool the first time. But the start of EVERY VIDEO has it. The start of the App has it. Seriously Walter…..it is annoying as all hell.

Second, the App is just basically a shell with some videos that are chapter-ized. The there are three buttons and a “home” icon. The home icon takes you to Walter’s website….how thoughtful. The Video takes you to the videos. The Bio presents you with a scrollable text of Walter’s bio. And the More button takes you to a page where he’s pawning his other “App” Sound Production For Saxophone, his Facebook, Twitter, “Home” (website link) and YouTube videos.

Beasley1

Third, the App does not remember where you were. And it does not orientate. And it doesn’t really support iPad (you have to scale it).

 

So, is it worth the $1.99? I guess….I think Walter should have included higher quality video with it (for iPad). But I think he could have just released this as a paid video for $1.99 instead.

I give it 5/10. You can easily find tutorials about circular breathing on YouTube for free that are as informative if not more. And they don’t have the annoying intro.

Special Grammy Award Honoring Steve Jobs/Yo-Yo Ma and Steve Jobs

The Grammy awards are tonight, but some of them have already happened. And Steve Jobs received an award.

 

Eddy Cue Accepts Special Grammy Award Honoring Steve Jobs:

The Grammy ceremony for the Special Merit Awards was held yesterday, and Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue was on hand to accept the award.

The Recording Academy has also published a brief tribute to Jobs by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a 16-time Grammy winner and personal friend of Jobs.

Jobs’ Grammy marks the second time he and Apple have been honored by The Recording Academy. Apple itself won a Technical Grammy Award in 2002.

 

And Cellist Yo-Yo Ma had some things to share about meeting Steve and their relationship. Good stuff.

 

Sheet Of The Week (Bonus) – I Got Mine (The Black Keys)

Breaking into some other groups…..like The Black Keys……

  I Got Mine by The Black Keys for Eb Instruments (91.0 KiB, 99 hits)
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  I Got Mine by The Black Keys for Bb Instruments (90.6 KiB, 62 hits)
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New FAA Bill Finally has guidelines for Instruments

The AFM applauds passage of FAA Bill :: Official Website of the American Federation of Musicians:

After five years and 23 short-term extensions, Congress has passed legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next four years. Included in the bill are provisions that create a uniform national policy regarding musical instruments on airplanes. Any instrument that can be safely stored in the overhead compartment or underneath the seat may be brought on board as carry-on luggage. Additionally, the bill sets standard weight and size requirements for checked instruments, and permits musicians to purchase a seat for oversized instruments, such as cellos, that are too delicate to be checked. Existing law allowed each airline to set their own policy regarding musical instruments, and size requirements varied widely for both carry-on and checked baggage. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has been lobbying Congress to enact such a policy for nearly a decade.

(Via www.afm.org)

Finally, something our Congress passes that makes sense. Too bad they didn’t put it out for the public to see before voting on it. Remember that broken promise Mr. Obama?

Finale Notepad 2012…..FREE……AGAIN

File this under news no one really cares about….

One of the biggest bone head decisions was MakeMusic charging for NotePad, which had been free up until version 2009 (I think). Well, duh…..no one bought it. And the exposure they got for providing a fairly adequate notation program for free evaporated.

Now, at NAMM, they announced that 2012 version of Finale Notepad is going to be free. Now….if they would only maybe follow through? Hello Minnesota….you there?

I dunno exactly what the point is in announcing something then waiting like a month to deliver it. How hard is it to strip out the DRM in it? Seriously, how MakeMusic stays in business is anyone’s guess.

UPDATE 2/15/2012 Seems they, over a month after they announced it, have released Notepad.

John Williams is 80 Today

One of the best, if not THE BEST, movie composers, John Williams, turns 80 today. Though the article suggests 5 scores of his to listen to, there are TONS more. Like Indiana Jones music, ET, Superman (original), Catch Me If You Can (which has a great saxophone part done by Dan Higgins), Saving Private Ryan….just to name a FEW.

Wiki him. He has pretty much shaped music in movies since the 70s.