Indablog - Indaba Music
News, Sessions and oddities from the Indaba Community
Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 05:00 PM
“Want a major label content deal, and the big-name catalog that comes
with it? Then prepare to make some concessions. In the recent deal
between Warner Music Group and eMusic, it turns out that Warner labels
are picking which artists and songs will appear on the site, instead of
the other way around.” (via Digital Music News)
“Simon and Garfunkel have been added to the lineup for this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.”
“U.K. ministers have granted a concession in the Digital Economy Bill,
which in its original form would have provided “reserve powers” to
introduce legislation to clamp down on any future technology that could
enable copyright infringement." (via Billboard.biz)
“Wyclef Jean has called on the international community to offer emergency assistance to Haiti, which was hit by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake.” (via Billboard.com)
“Google Inc threatened to quit China, the world’s biggest Internet
market, warning it would no longer tolerate strict censorship of its
Google.cn search engine. The threat by the world’s leading Internet search
provider may win it praise for seemingly putting ethics above business,
but give Microsoft and a handful of local rivals an edge in the huge
yet problematic Chinese Internet market. Google generated 53% of its
$5.9 billion in third-quarter revenue outside the United States,
although it does not disclose the size of its business in China.”
“The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court
judge erred in dismissing the complaint alleging violations of the
federal Sherman Act in October 2008. Among the named defendants in the case are
Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group, Sony Corp, Time Warner Inc, Vivendi SA and
Warner Music Group Corp or various affiliates.” (via Billboard.biz)
“BlueBeat Music, the company who tried to get away with selling
unlicensed recordings by the Beatles and other acts by saying it owned
“new” version of their work, has relaunched as a customized Internet
radio site." (via Billboard.biz)
“Mobile music technology company Melodeo unveiled a new version of its
flagship nuTsie service, which allows users to stream any song in their
iTunes library to any mobile phone.” (via Billboard.biz)
“Consuela Lee, a jazz pianist who fought to establish an arts school for children in rural Alabama on the grounds of a moribund academy founded by her grandfather, died Dec. 26 in Atlanta, where she had lived since 2007. She was 83.”
(via The New York Times)
“US streaming music service Pandora has followed through on its promises to start turning a profit. “We became profitable for the fourth quarter of 2009, and now we’re shooting for profits for the entire 2010,” CTO Tom Conrad tells GigaOM.” (via Music Ally)
“2010 is the year the total dollars spent on digital music will surpass the sale of physical goods according to a new forecast. Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report, “Paid Music Content: The Answer Is Blowin’ in the Cloud.” forecasts that US consumer spending on digital music will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.04% in the next four years, reaching $4.56 billion in 2013, up from $3 billion in 2009.” (via Hypebot)
“McDonald’s has cleverly paired its Dollar Menu with Dollar Van Demos – an online showcase of musicians, rappers and comedians performing inside a dollar van with real passengers. (Dollar vans work NY neighborhoods under-served by mass transit offering cheap transport.)”
Thursday December 03, 2009 at 01:12 PM
The Great American Songbook is a body of music that is, sadly, forgotten by the majority of my generation. Ask the average teenager to hum the melody to the tune “All The Things You Are”, and you will probably be greeted by blank stares and raised eyebrows. Besides the jazz musician or Mel Torme enthusiast among us, this boom period of American commercial music gets lost in the generational cracks; what was once considered “great” is now dated and corny. Though, there is a reason for this. In the 1950’s, the Great American Songbook era was replaced by a genre on the rise, Rock and Roll. And so, the disintegration of the Great American Songbook began its decline though no fault of my generation, but of my parents. But this was always bound to happen. Musical genres become dated, the youth takes over, and the cycle begins again. Take J. S. Bach for example: his sons were ashamed of his “old” music while they were involved with the newly emerging classical era, and now his music is some of the most enduring of all time. However, just as “classical music” has become the vernacular blanket term for western art music, I propose that the Great American Songbook be expanded to include all great songs that have profoundly shaped American culture, not just those written from the 20’s through the 50’s.
When be-bop happened in the 1940’s, it was yet another in a string of youth counter cultures. Be-bop musicians were the disgruntled by product of the swing era, an era where musicians would go to clubs every day and play the same music over, and over again. Understandably, these swing musicians needed to break free from the grind and experiment. They took popular tunes like “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “What is This Thing Called Love” and transformed them into long, fast, complicated, improvised songs. One of the most important piano players from this era was Thelonius Monk. Last year I remember listening to my radio and I came across a broadcast on Monk by Wynton Marsalis. As a huge Monk fan I was very interested to hear what he had to say about the man, especially considering his significant knowledge about jazz history (and his penchant for saying some pretty controversial things about the music). The majority of the broadcast was great, very informative and praiseworthy. Then, Dr. Marsalis arrived at a point where he was talking about the decline in jazz record sales during the late 1960’s. He praised Monk for, “not losing his integrity” and giving in to record labels who wanted Monk to cover Beatles tunes to push record sales. I immediately thought to myself, “how would Monk lose his integrity if he covered a Beatles tune?” I feel that, considering the cultural impact the Beatles had on this country (not to mention the raw songwriting talent), it would be an honor to cover a Beatles song well. Moreover, Monk of all people, having been part of the Be-Bop revolution, could have understood the spirit of taking a popular song and expanding it.
Like the Beatles, artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nirvana, and Radiohead (to name a few) have had significant impact on the musical direction of the country. Each deserve to be categorized as great american artists (even though the Beatles, Radiohead are English and Joni Mitchell is Canadian I contend they still deserve the distinction due to their contributions to the culture in America). In modern jazz, especially since the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s, there has been a push, even a high profile one, to thrust these artists into the Great American Songbook. Herbie Hancock introduced his album The New Standard in 1994, which features tunes by Stevie Wonder, Lennon and McCartney, and even Prince.. Joshua Redman released, in 1998, Timeless Tales for Changing Times, with many tunes by the same composers. Of course, there is Brad Mehldau who has recorded many Radiohead, Nick Drake, and Beatles tunes. In fact, he wrote a now infamous liner note for his 2000 album Back at the Vanguard: Art of the Trio (Volume 4) about his view on the state of jazz. The Bad Plus, with the ever rebellious but surprising traditionalist Ethan Iverson, released on their album These Are the Vistas a rather fitting version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Still, with all of these high powered covers, the scholastic jazz community still regards the recording of one as a novelty, pushing their students to focus on the established standards. Even with Mehldau’s ubiquitous popularity, you never hear “Paranoid Android” called at jam session (the closet you ever come is “Blackbird”, and very rarely). As of yet, I have not heard, though have seriously considered, a serious jazz cover of “Bartender”. Nothing should be off limits to this new generation of the jazz community; blowing over “Everything In Its Right Place” is just as fun as blowing over “All The Things You Are”.
So, let us take charge and rework the Great American Songbook. As it has countless times before through music history, the cycle is ready to begin again.
Wednesday December 02, 2009 at 05:00 PM
When Jazz started in New Orleans, it brought together, in one place, all of the influence that routinely came in and out of the port city. The marching band drums were consolidated into a single kit, the ragtime piano rhythms and harmonic ideas were brought together with a tuba and a banjo, and the marching band horns became a section in front of the rhythm section. Mash these elements into a club, and New Orleans was transformed into the birthplace for a music that has spanned generations. While, in recent years, Americans have hoisted jazz onto the “art music” pedestal, the simple truth remains that jazz, at one point, was considered a vulgar vernacular music of the day. In fact, the word “jazz” derives from a closely related vulgar word, which I will not repeat (hint: it has to do with sex). The most legendary jazz instrumentalists were strung out on all sorts of drugs: Louis Armstrong was a lifelong Marijuana devotee (where did you think that voice came from?); Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Scott LaFaro, and many others were Heroin junkies for part, or all, of their career (Miles kicked Heroin for Cocaine, or so the legend goes). And yet, with this unsavory origin, they were able to create some of the most lasting and beautiful music of all time. Is the development of Hip-Hop all that different? Hip-Hop was also first developed as an underground culture. The first Hip-Hop parties were held in the Bronx during the late 1970’s, riding the wave created by soul and funk artists. DJ’s soon began taking these popular songs and chopping them apart to play the drums separately; audiences were in love. Soon a whole culture developed, with the New York City youth leading the charge. And, just like jazz, it spread from one innovative city to the rest of the country.
With jazz, this journey began up the Mississippi River, moving north through St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, then it took the turn east to New York, where, to this day, it remains the jazz mecca of the world. Development of regional styles within jazz began: the Kansas City school (with Bennie Moten, and later, Count Basie’s orchestra), Chicago’s “hot” jazz, be-bop in New York (Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie), and “cool” jazz on the west coast (Lee Konitz and Chet Baker). You can see the same regional development in the spread of hip-hop though the country. As the hip-hop music and culture spread, some regional styles became clear: New York was laid back, focusing on lyricism and cultural statements (the ultimate example is Nas’ Illmatic); on the west coast, it was about banging and so, you saw the emergence of groups like NWA and gansta rap culture; and in the south, stemming from Atlanta and Miami, there was the dirty south movement, focusing on club culture and flash (for example, Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik).
You can even see parallels between the figures of the two musics. Miles Davis was a figure who had a long career, working with many bands across many different styles of jazz and singlehandedly moving forward the progression of jazz. I would argue that Dr. Dre fits the bill for this type of artist in hip-hop. His career started in the beginning of the west coast school, and through his career, he has worked with many different artists. The ones with the highest profiles are, of course, Eminem (midwest), 50 Cent (New York), and Snoop Dogg (West Coast). I would equate the coast vs coast rivalry between Biggie and Tupac to the rivalry (though a friendly one) between west coast saxophonist Lee Konitz and east coast saxophonist Charlie Parker. Lee Konitz and his “cool” school were the direct rebellion to be-bop, the east coast style at the time. Today’s hip-hop and jazz cultures still have parallels. For example, Soulja Boy has emerged to please the masses, with simple, easily understood songs, much like Kenny G has done on the saxophone in helping to popularize the “smooth” jazz idiom. However, on the other side of the coin, there is Lil’ Wayne whose lyricism is complex and intelligent, and has helped to draw hip-hop out of an early 2000s dark age, back to a music which requires talent and dedication; much like artists like Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, and Wynton Marsalis did for jazz in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
With these similarities, it is no surprise that jazz musicians and hip-hop artists have been drawn to one another. Miles Davis’ last album Doo Bop, from 1991, was full of hip-hop beats; A Tribe Called Quest routinely sampled jazz songs, like Weather Report’s “Young and Fine”, and their feature of bassist Ron Carter on “Verses From the Abstract”, both from their album Low End Theory; pianist Robert Glasper has been actively touring with Mos Def; guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel was featured on Q-Tip’s last album, and sat in with his old classmate ?uestlove and the Roots on the Jimmy Fallon Show, and was recently interviewed on NPR where they put his iPod on shuffle and when Biggie came on he knew all the words; and trumpet player Roy Hargrove, with his RH Factor, has toured and recorded with Erykah Badu and Common.
Some jazz fans go out of their way to actively demonize hip-hop without knowing the history of, not only hip-hop, but of “America’s” music is general. Jazz and Hip-Hop are both great, and both are born from the efforts of the rebellious, who set out to fill themselves, and wound up starting new world cultures. So, let’s tip our hats to the innovators of both, the ones who weren’t afraid to do what they felt and by doing so, created America’s lasting, unique music.
Thursday May 14, 2009 at 10:04 AM
Wynton Marsalis Signs With The Orchard – by Vijith
Last week, we briefly discussed concert promotion behemoth Live Nation‘s ongoing moves toward signing suspiciously record-label-like deals with artists like Jay-Z and Nickelback. This, of course, is largely because traditional ways of generating revenue using copyrighted recordings aren’t working so well anymore, and regular record labels had been hemorrhaging money for a solid decade or so before the rest of corporate America decided to join the party last fall.
It’s also why other companies are also considering stepping in to add their own twist to the formula. Around this time last year, UK electronica and trip hop duo Groove Armada unveiled a deal in which they’d be distributing their new recordings through (seriously) Bacardi, for example, and as of this week we have another considerably less ridiculous, perhaps even culturally noteworthy addition to that list: jazz trumpeter and all-around living legend Wynton Marsalis has signed a similar deal with The Orchard.
“Who?”, you’re probably asking. If you’re referring to Marsalis with that, we’ll start laughing at you and throwing CDs at your head, but if it’s the Orchard you’re curious about, that’s OK.
During the earliest days of the iTunes Music Store, Apple decided to sidestep the hassle of dealing with musicians directly (admit it, we are tremendous pains) and instead would only work with record labels to procure the songs. There was once some suspicion that this hesitance was due to their standoffish relationship with Apple Corps, the Beatles’ record label, which took Apple (Computer) to court several times starting in 1978 for trademark infringement. That built to the mutually tense understanding that both companies could use the same darn fruit as long as they stuck to their respective fields: Corps to music, and Computer to, well, computers. The iPod and certainly the iTunes Music Store blurred that line a bit, and direct dealings with the musicians could have been construed by a judge as an invasion of the Corps space.
Unfortunately, this meant that independent musicians were screwed.
That changed in August 2003, however, when hard-copy indie music retailer CDBaby convinced Apple they’d be able to perform all the duties of a traditional label and broker otherwise independent music for use in the store. CDBaby isn’t selective about the music they stock and sell — they will even accept homebrew CD-Rs — and their services are pretty affordable, so all of a sudden, even the least business-savvy of broke-ass independent artists could sell their songs through the iTunes Music Store and pocket the majority of the proceeds. CDBaby had this niche locked up quite nicely for a few years, but around 2005 or 2006, alternatives like Tunecore and The Orchard popped up and started providing the same services, but using slightly different pricing models and dispensing entirely with the physical sales.
So now Marsalis has signed with the latter, also sidestepping the more traditional labels; he’s worked with Sony and Columbia extensively, and his most recent records came out on revered jazz imprint Blue Note, which is a subsidiary of EMI. All are heavyweights.
There are three things that are interesting about this development.
First, the company he’s working with is in many ways far better aligned with his new digital trajectory than, say, the profiteers of sin at Bacardi. Even Live Nation, which doubtless has a promotional budget that could unknowingly blow The Orchard’s away with a sneeze, isn’t positioned quite as well ideologically. That is, The Orchard is fundamentally in the business of making money by distributing audio recordings sans physical media. That would bode well, it would seem, for Marsalis’ ability to do so himself.
The second point — and this is not going anywhere, since it’s just me indulging my inner space-cadet — is that Marsalis is pointedly traditionalist when it comes to his music. That’s another post entirely, but the short version is that he preaches the importance of studying proper jazz forms and learning a canon, while his detractors say his retrospective emphasis runs counter to the genre’s improvisatory spirit of evolution. And while we shouldn’t run around confusing the art and the technology willy-nilly, it’s still a little amusing to see him break with tradition in such a pronounced fashion.
Third, if he was using Indaba, it’d be possible for him to both create and distribute his tunes without any of the physical infrastructure once required by either. Cool, huh?
Wednesday January 02, 2008 at 08:00 AM
DL Media reports Jazz
legend Freddie Hubbard has passed away in Sherman Oaks Hospital this
morning (December 29) in Sherman Oaks California at the age of 70. The
cause of death was from complications of a heart attack he suffered on
David Weiss, his longtime manager, arranger and
producer who also organized and played trumpet in Hubbard’s last band,
The New Jazz Composers Octet, recalls “He played faster, longer, higher
and with more energy than any other trumpeter of his era.”
fiery trumpeter, composer and NEA Jazz Master defined the 60s, as no
other trumpeter played and impacted the music in so many far-reaching
and innovative projects. He played with artists John Coltrane, Ornette
Coleman, Bobby Hutcherson, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy,
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and countless others.
Hubbard also recorded on over 300 albums as a leader and sideman with
an imposing solo legacy on the storied labels, Impulse!, Blue Note,
Atlantic and CTI Records where he had his biggest success with the
album Red Clay. He later recorded for Columbia, Elektra, MPS, Music
Masters, Telarc, Enja and Hip Bop Records where he made his final
album, On the Real Side, released June 24, 2008.
DeWayne Hubbard (born April 7, 1938) in Indianapolis is survived by his
wife of 35 years, Briggie Hubbard and his son Duane. Funeral services
are pending. A memorial tribute in New York will be planned in the new
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