Tag Archives: 2011

Top 10 Albums Of 2011

There are a LOT of sites that are posting top 10 albums of the year. I thought I’d post my favorites. In no particular order. There were a lot I left out….:-(

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – That’s How We Roll iTunes,amazon. Duh….obviously.

Christian McBride Big Band – The Good Feeling iTunes,amazon. Love that there are more Big Bands starting up and sounding amazing other than the already amazing Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.

Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook iTunes,amazon. Latin jazz music is awesome, and Miguel is the master of it. Great album.

John Escreet – The Age We Live In iTunes,Amazon Great album with Dave Binney.

Captain Black Big Band – Captain Black Big Band iTunes Another Big Band? Yep.

Tony Bennett – The Best Of The Improv Recordings iTunes,Amazon Haven’t really been a fan of Tony’s. I generally thought his singing was too commercial, to….scripted? Not these recordings. More like Sinatra….which is good.

Omer Avital Quintet – Live at Smalls iTunes,Amazon Great, tight group.

Scott Hamilton & Dusko Goykovich – Tight But Loose iTunes,Amazon I never tire of listening to Scott Hamilton. He is in the top of my favorite tenor players.

Richard Cheese – Live At The Royal Wedding iTunes,Amazon Need a Weird Al jazz person? Except not PC? Then Richard Cheese is your man.

Ken Peplowski – In Search of… iTunes,Amazon Clarinet and saxophone played awesome? Yup. Peplowski is great.

NAMM Oddities

One of my favorite sites every year is the NAMM Oddities site where Barry Wood puts up strange things he saw at the annual NAMM show. This year there were a LOT of iPad things. Most of the things are geared towards drums and guitar and tech. However, there was ONE thing on the NAMM oddities page that caught my attention.

JoyTunes has developed a rather interesting learning system for recorder. Check it out. It could easily be applied to any woodwind or brasswind instrument. Stuff like this has been around for piano for ages. Sorta like Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Check it out for yourselves and decide.

Band in a Box 2011

PG Music has updated their awesome program, Band in A Box to the 2011 version. The main new features are:

  • More natural sounding real tracks over various tempos (ie: better pitch stretching and compressing technology)
  • Takes up less space (I haven’t been brave enough yet to try this on my install of Band in a Box yet)
  • Multistyles and Change of individual RealTracks. So you can pick your favorite parts of RealTracks and put them all together or have the style change midstream.
  • Scales Wizard which is great for students of Jazz

The basic look and feel of the program is the same, which if you love it, then all is well in the universe, and if you think the circa 1991 look sucks then….well….it’s going to suck. I think PG Music really needs to hire an interface specialist and completely overhaul the look of the program. Functionality wise, it is amazing. But a LOT of things could be better, like the Preferences area (please PG Music, look at like Digital Performer or even FINALE on how to clean up the Preferences), or just navigating the program in general. I know the program’s roots are from the Atari ST days, but the whole concept of GUI is different now, and PG Music still doesn’t seem to get it.

Take for example the new Mixer. While it is very nice to have a mixer, it is completely backwards. And there are 5 tabs to access the features, where a smart design could have put them all in ONE spot. And left right for volume? The only program I use that has that is Garageband. A standard DAW type mixer where there are UP DOWN volume, knobs for panning and tone, a pop up level thing for reverb. And it always wants to be the top window. DAWs like Digital Performer or even ProTools let you the mixer behind other windows.

Things like this drive me mad. I mentioned the whole mixer thing several times in the Beta test, and nothing happened. *Sigh*

Band in a Box is still a program without equal though. The complaints about interface quirks don’t tarnish the program. As a musician, you’d be foolish NOT to own this program with ALL the RealTracks. Once you hear it, and use it, you won’t be going back to your Aebersold play-alongs.

I give it a 9.5 out of 10. More features, smaller footprint for the RealTracks, generally faster than the previous version, more RealTracks, more options. All great additions to an already great program. 0.5 deducted for PG Music still not fixing strange things in the interface or just cleaning it up. Though, this program still runs FINE on my 2006 iMac as well as my MacPro.

PS, I HIGHLY recommend getting the Hard Drive versions. Since downloading the program can take hours, and several 10s of gigabytes. A lot of ISPs are now capping your monthly allocation as well (Comcast, and now AT&T). PLUS, getting it on a hard drive means you can RUN it from there or have it as a backup.