Frank Sumares Dies

I received an email today saying that the great Frank Sumares, or as most people called him “Uncle Frank” or “Uncafunk” died of Cancer today.

He was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a very short time ago, like less than two weeks. The doctors were saying that he had 6-8 months, then revised it to 2-3 months, and now…..he’s gone.

I remember Frank when I would play in the Chabot Jazz band. He would have his signature dark glasses on and just come in and kick some musical ass. One of the best directors I’ve ever had. Great guy. Rest in Peace man.

Concord Music Group Sold To Investor Group

From eJazzNews:

Concord Music Group is very pleased to announce that a definitive agreement has been reached with Wood Creek Capital Management LLC to purchase Concord from Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. The acquisition is being made on behalf of funds which Wood Creek advises, and an individual investor group that includes members of Concord’s senior management and industry veterans Steve Smith and Scott Pascucci. The transaction is expected to close within a few days.

Didn’t even know there was a deal in the works. I guess it is good news?

The Importance of Backups

For several years now, I have been storing my digital assets on a RAID5 system. The first system was a box I build from old PC parts and a raid controller. It held a whopping 1 terabyte in storage. It was loud.

The second system was a ReadyNAS NV. This was a little shoebox size computer that held 4 drives. It worked remarkably well, even when I swapped out the original 250 gig drives with 1 terabyte drives (to make my total storage close to 3 terabytes). Great little unit, but it was slow (650mhz processor).

Last year I upgraded to a Synology DS1512. The first unit I got had a serious firmware issue, and they had to send me a new unit. It had been running flawlessly until about two weeks ago. Then, a drive failed….

No big deal. I had two drives fail on the readynas unit. You simply take up the disk, put in a new one, and it rebuilds itself…..no data lost. The synology unit should be the same. So, I proceeded to go on amazon and order a new drive…..then the improbable happened……a second drive failed.

Now, RAID5 is designed to handle one drive dying, not two. Technically, the drive didn’t completely die, the system map got screwed up somehow. Basically, the unit crashed miserably, and probably was not recoverable (didn’t even boot)

Luckily, over the summer, I got a two disk synology unit, and had been remotely syncing changes from the DS1512 to it. Plus I had also been using the readynas nv as a backup as well. So, I didn’t lose nearly 3 terabytes of songs, movies, books, and recordings.

Now, you probably don’t have a NAS. But you probably have a computer. You need to backup files now. Get a hard drive and use time machine on the Mac or whatever similar program exists for windows. Backup. Seriously consider getting a CrashPlan or similar service account.

You can never have too many backups.

Indispensable Finale Tools

I have been a LONG time user of Finale. Since…..geeze, Finale 2 something (I think I have the floppy disks it came on for my Mac Quadra 660AV). Since there seems to be a new influx of life into MakeMusic, it is time to revisit why it is such an awesome program compared to the competition. I mean, there are reasons like the endless flexibility the program allows you in inputing your music, tweaking the output, etc. No, what really sets it apart are the plugins.

The first plugin that is absolutely necessary for anyone who uses Finale is TGTools. I use this daily. It has so many useful features. It is well worth the price I paid for it.

The second set of plugins are from Jari Williamsson that are available on the FinaleTips.nu site. His latest plugin, JW Accidentals, is amazing. Have needed something like this for a long time.

So check them out. Finale is going places……Sibelius? No so much…..

Google Shutting Down Reader

One of the things I use A LOT on the internet is Google Reader. It is a way easy way to get feeds from a ton of sites in one place where you can view them all, and if you are interested click on them and go to the site and read more. I spend at least 30 minutes each morning going through my feeds and reading things I find interesting. Google Reader fetches all these and keeps them insync for me, so if I happen to use Reeder iOS app to read some of the NYT Arts articles, later when I am on the computer, it won’t show me those again. It has been a huge thing for me for a while now. Now Google is killing it off.

The internet was in an uproar about it. I was too. Damn Google.

Alternatives? So far I think NewsBlur is the top for me. I already paid for a year ($24). I also bought Fever, but for some reason it won’t import my exported Google Reader data. Fever sounds really great, and it would be my own private store of feeds, and I could use my favorite Apps (Reeder) to view the feeds. Hopefully my email to the creator of Fever gets a response.

San Francisco Symphony: On Strike, Concert Canceled | KQED News Fix

San Francisco Symphony: On Strike, Concert Canceled | KQED News Fix:

Musicians for the San Francisco Symphony went on strike today after eight months of fruitless talks with management centered on wage and benefit issues. The immediate impact: The symphony announced a concert scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday has been canceled.

(Via blogs.kqed.org)

I’m sorry, but when the AVERAGE salary is $165K a year, I have NO SYMPATHY for these guys. The rest of us musicians maybe make $60K a year before taxes, and since Obama and the recession, I think a $40K is more realistic.

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic:

Today, MakeMusic announced that Launch Equity will purchase the company.  You can read MakeMusic’s press release here.   Launch Equity proposed the buyout last July (July 15, 2012), with the intent of taking the company private and then investing money into the company for a new CEO as well as updating software (particularly Finale’s base code).

(Via Technology in Music Education)

This is great news considering Avid is falling off a cliff and the development team of Sibelius was sacked and have started a new project with Steinberg.

However, this did crop up. Seems everyone isn’t happy about this

Sheet Of The Week – The Kiss (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Sorry, was busy with gigs and stuff. Here is another song by Carly Rae Jepsen.

  The Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen for Eb Instruments (88.5 KiB, 49 hits)
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  The Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen for Bb Instruments (93.2 KiB, 33 hits)
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What the best jazz musicians and business brains have in common – CNN.com

What the best jazz musicians and business brains have in common – CNN.com:

How do you cope when faced with complexity and constant change at work? Successful leaders do what jazz musicians do: they improvise.

They invent novel responses and take calculated risks without a scripted plan or a safety net. They negotiate with each other as they proceed, and they don’t dwell on mistakes or stifle each other’s ideas.

(Via www.cnn.com)

Great article. Must get this guy’s book.

No One Sets Out To Be A Smooth Jazz Musician | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

No One Sets Out To Be A Smooth Jazz Musician | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source:

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Nobody ever just woke up one morning and thought, “Of all the things possible in the vastness that is life, what I’d really like to do is play smooth jazz 250 nights a year.” It just doesn’t work that way.

(Via www.theonion.com)

So True!

Band In A Box 2013 Macintosh

NewImage

PG Music has released the latest greatest version of Band in a Box for Macintosh. This is one of my favorite programs, hands down.

Here are some of the new featuresI like:

  • 31 More Jazz RealTracks, 35 Rock-Pop RealTracks.
  • New Song Form feature.
  • Remembers recent RealTracks that you selected
  • Easy Buttons for Transposing (Display only) to Eb, Bb and other clefs/instruments
  • Woodshed Tempo button

They also have some “SuperMidi” things, to make the midi tracks sound better. The main feature for me in this update was the Woodshed Tempo button. Now, Band in a Box has HAD this function for a while, buried in the preferences somewhere. I believe during the 2012.5 Beta test I suggested it would be a good idea to put it in a button and move it out front. PG Music did just that. The Woodshed button works by you giving it a start tempo, say 120, and then tell it how fast to get to (say 240) and in what increments. It’s very very nice to have. I’m hoping that they add the ability to have the Woodshed stuff be able to be dumped into an audio file at some point. They seemed interested when I made that suggestion. I think it would be VERY useful for making practice for students and stuff.

Some of the new Real Tracks are amazing, and at least one (Euro Dance) is crap. PG Music STILL hasn’t fixed/added a feature I think is essential, the ability to have the Open by Title be able to traverse subdirectories. It is a great feature, Open by Title, that shows the song name, key, tempo, and style for all the files in that directory. BUT if you have a subdirectory, it doesn’t open and do those files. That is stupid. It is easy to have upwards for 5,000 band in a box files (I have something like 12,000) if you download all the free fake book changes and what not freely available on the internet. Does PG Music want us to store everything in ONE directory? Yikes!

I still rate Band in a Box is an ESSENTIAL tool for anyone learning Jazz. Or learning music. Or composing. The ability to pick a key, type a chord progression, pick a tempo, and then a style and go is amazing. And the Real Tracks add to the program. Anyone buying this program needs to pony up for the Real Tracks, or at least the Real Tracks they would be using. Once you start using them, the Midi Stuff is just so 1990s.

Musicians Need to Rethink Their Struggle with Piracy

Musicians Need to Rethink Their Struggle with Piracy:

This isn’t a ‘4 steps to beating piracy guide’, but we might as well start at the beginning. Prepare a game plan for your music. Figure out what path you want to take with your music and then stick to it. Do you want to get your music out in the world trying to get the most people to hear it, or do you need to make a monetary return on your recording investment? If you need to make a return, don’t give away your music for free, expecting some people to pay or donate. If your goal is awareness and popularity, then giving away a bunch of songs or the entire album may be the way to go.

(Via news.allaboutjazz.com)

 

Interesting. I had a discussion with a bass player about things like Spotify and Pandora. He was all “they pay you” and I was “like .000001 cents per play”. I think the way to go is to either put it into iTunes, or perhaps do what some people are doing and make it a “pay what you want” thing. 

UPDATE – Actually, the rate is $0.21 per 100 streams of a song. And Pandora supposedly pays $0.12 per 100 streams.