How Michael Brecker Reinvented the Concept of Jazz Hero

Found this article by Ted Gioia. A must read.

Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of Michael Brecker’s death at age 57. That gives me a good excuse to reassess his legacy. The release of Bill Milkowski’s new book on the saxophonist was another useful prod, providing me with additional information and insights.

I hope the essay below raises Brecker’s reputation a notch among critics—although it’s safe to say that saxophonists have long known what a formidable presence he was on the horn.

I note with regret that Brecker never got named a NEA Jazz Master, and only made it into the Downbeat Hall of Fame after his death, when readers (not critics) voted him in. Even today, you won’t find Brecker in the Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz hall of fame. None of his recordings are included among the hundreds honored by the Library of Congress in their National Recording Registry. And his name is conspicuously absent on many other honor rolls and ceremonial lists.

Why is Micheal not a NEA Jazz Master?? This is not right. I don’t think I knew much about him other than he played this ripping part on Michael Franks song “Dr. Sax”. This was back before the internet, and you had to BUY physical media to listen to stuff. I actually saw him perform at the Shoreline back in….1989(?) I think. He was NOT the headliner, that honor goes to Spyro Gyra, a band I did know and really liked. Also featured was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. But it was really the Michael Brecker band that simply blew my mind. And he also did his thing when he would loop things on the EWI…..just amazing stuff. I think my friend and I left well before Spyro Gyra finished. We had already witnessed God-like talent and everything after that was….meh.

The Best Multi-Effects Pedal For Sax – Line6 HX Stomp

During COVID lockdown in 2020, I bought some music gear. Hey, it was “the end of the world” or whatever. I figured I had some time to learn some things and play with some stuff. One of the things I bought was a Line6 HX Stomp.

I can’t say enough things about this pedal. It works amazingly well. It sounds great. If you received some Holiday money and want to get into effects, I highly recommend it.

If you want a DEEP DIVE on this, and I have mentioned it before, but HornFX on Youtube has EXCELLENT VIDEOS on it. Like his channel is criminally under subscribed to and his HX Stomp videos have less than 200 views. WTF!!!

HX Stomp Part 1
HX Stomp Part 2
HX Stomp Part 3
HX Stomp Part 4
HX Stomp Part 5
HX Stomp Part 6

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

With the new year upon us, it is a good time to examine how you are protecting your “digital” assets. That being recordings, media, or whatever lives on your laptop, computer, iPad, phone or what have you. I think the article that really lays out how to effectively do this is one by backup service BackBlaze.

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least one copy off-site. We’ll use “kitten.jpg” as an example for this scenario. Kitten.jpg lives on your computer at home; it was a picture that you took of your cat in 2012. That’s one copy of the data. You also have an external hard drive that you use for backing up your computer; if you’re on a Mac, you might be using it as a Time Machine drive (and Backblaze loves Time Machine). As part of its backup process, that external hard drive will back up kitten.jpg. That’s a second copy, on a different device or medium. In addition to that external hard drive, you also have an online backup solution. The online backup continuously scans your computer and uploads your data off-site to a data center. Kitten.jpg is included in this upload, and that becomes the third copy of your data.

So, read, and protect your stuff. As someone who has a “day job” dealing with tech issues, nothing saddens me more than hearing that “ALL MY STUFF WAS ON THAT”. 

Brief History Of Music Notation On Computers

I came across this post this morning.

At Scoring Notes, we usually cover the latest products and news about music notation software and related technology. Music engraving, as we all know, dates back well before the computer age. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget that the computer-aided portion of the history book spans back a good long time, too. In this article, we’ll summarize that history and explore a few key moments that led us to where we are today in the field.

My first exposure to computer notation was when I used Logic on an Atari ST. My high school jazz band folder had been stolen, and I had to write out a lot of the parts, and decided to try to do it with a computer. It didn’t go so well.

I do have an old Etude book by Dan Higgins from 1982(?) that looks computer notated. I still use that book. I never got to use “Score”, but I did have some exposure to MOTU’s stuff in the 90s, and I think I used Electronic’s Arts’ Deluxe Music Construction Set on something…..

I also remember buying the “Sonata” font for Encore in the 90s (I think 1991/92) for use with Encore. That was when I was working on the II-V-I patterns using an older Mac SE/30. Like I can remember being on page 70 of that, and pasting stuff to new bars, waiting several minutes for it to complete the job, and then having it transpose something, and waiting. Lots of waiting in computers then.

Oh, I DO remember some of the OLD versions of Finale. I know I have disks somewhere for like version 3.5 of Finale, which is like the middle 90s I think. I don’t think I used 2.6.1…….

It’s a good memory lane article…..and interesting to see how the industry evolved.

The State Of Wireless Microphones For Saxophone (2022)

Going into 2022, there are a plethora of wireless microphone systems out for the saxophone. There is the venerable Shure SLXD ($799), GLX ($689) or BLX ($449) systems. These you have to figure out what operating band works for your area. These are also solid, long range, tried and tested systems.

Another system that got traction in 2021 was the CloudVocal system. Their products use the 2.4ghz range, which a lot of new wireless systems are using. They kind of are pursuing the “all in one” thing, with their “receiver” base unit also being sort of an effects pedal (with some basic effects). I’m not a fan of these units. First, it’s as expensive as getting an entry level Shure system (which has an excellent microphone). Second, to use the effects pedal/mixer part, you need to keep it near you. And the mixer needs power. So… aren’t really becoming “wireless”. You still are tethered to several wires now (power and output to your band’s mixer).

So, the new entry (or at least new to me) is this very intriguing wireless system from NUX. The NUX B-6 for Saxophone seems like the perfect system that gives you mobility (i.e. wireless) and excellent sound with extreme portability. For $199, from the YouTube video out there, it sounds really good. Plus the case functions as a charger as well.

Now, this system also uses the 2.4ghz spectrum. 2.4ghz might sound familiar because everything wifi used to use that spectrum (and a lot of things still do). But the technology seems to have gotten a lot better, and interference from other things operating in that bandwidth seems not to be an issue. For example, I have been using a set of XVive U4 for in ear monitoring, and have yet to have any interference issues. In fact, 3 other band members are using the XVive U4s now as well. No issues. If you want to geek out about how 2.4ghz and musical stuff works, check out this article.

Though, I did get a 5ghz wireless transmitter/receiver for my EWI, and it works well, it DOES interfere with my iPad. I was at a gig, and using the EWI, and tried to use the iPad to adjust my level in the PA and my in-ears, and the iPad kept disconnecting from the mixer (though it was still on wifi). Come to find out, if the transmitter is like within about 2-3 feet of the iPad, it causes issues with the iPad. Oh well.

One last thing about 2.4ghz. For my band, the wireless system for the mixer is set at 5ghz. The 2.4ghz radio is off. Just to make sure there is no additional “pollution” in that spectrum.

So, if you received some $$$$ for Xmas, and wanted to get a wireless system, I think the NUX system is really the better deal and system. It’s more portable, and just seems a better value for the money.

Sheet Of The Week – All I Want For Christmas (Mariah Carey)

Happy Holidays!

  All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey for Eb Instruments (175.3 KiB, 4 hits)
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  All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey for Bb Instruments (184.2 KiB, 3 hits)
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Linktree for Musicians

About a year or two ago I saw a few people start using Linktree. It basically is a site where you can put all your links on in a nice to look at page. Like a mini-bio thing, where you can put your socials on there (linkedin, instagram, twitter, email, youtube), and other various links. It’s a great idea.

However, their pricing model is really stupid. $6 a month for a PRO level, or they have a free level. While I would love to get SOME of the PRO features, $6 a month is too much for this. There should be a middle tier, a member tier, that is $10 or $12 a year where you can get more customization, fonts and styles and some other things, but where you wouldn’t get like Integrations with Mailchimp/Facebook, video links, etc.

I think the idea and the service are great. For a lot of people it would be a great substitute to having a “website”. Most people probably do not need a “website” as perhaps all their work is all over the internet. This service would allow them to consolidate all their things into one landing page. It’s a great idea, but I think is doomed to failure cause of pricing.

Anyhow, I am still using it. I love it. I would pay for it, but $6 a month is a little too expensive. Again, a scaled back version that is a yearly $10-$12 price would ensure that this service continues forward this decade. Linktree, you listening?

Christmas Gifts 2021 (Misc)

Some gift ideas of things that aren’t really music related, or software music related.

Luggage Tags – I love these aluminum ones. You can put your business card in them and affix them to your instruments or bags. They look great.

Business Card Holder – Speaking of business cards, if you have cards (which is sort of old school but….) these are great.

Apple Airtags/Tile Trackers – I have yet to get an Apple Airtag, but I have been a Tile user for a long time. I do sort of like the piece of mind I have that my items do have some sort of tracking with them incase they are stolen or lost. I do recommend you sort of hide them inside the case.

Label Maker – I am not really BIG into labeling things, but I DO label a lot of things that tend to get lost. Cables. Various items.

DYMO Labelwriter – Keeping with the above pick, take your labeling to another level with a thermal printer. I use labels made by these for all sorts of labeling tasks. Including making my QR Code luggage tags.

Gig Hacks

One of the things I think a lot of people do not do is label their equipment. Like your cords. Your bags. Your GEAR. There are a couple of things I use to keep track of my gear.

Number one is getting tags. I long time ago, I got some of these Aluminum Luggage tags that I can put my business cards in. They are great. However, the HACK part is that I also use a DYMO LabelWriter to put my contact info and my Linktree QR code on there. So then if someone DOES find my wayward item, they have additional ways of getting the item back to me.

Second hack is to label my cables or other items that tend to go missing. The Brother P-Touch labeler works great for that. It does cable printing as well (so it can wrap around a cable). I also have them marked with this multi-patterned colored electrical tape I bought at Staples a while ago. I can’t seem to find anything like it on Amazon. It’s sorta like striped? Something that everyone knows like it is your cable.