As I write this, I am listening to a great album by Ben Allison & Medicine Wheel called Riding the Nuclear Tiger. The path that led me to hearing this music covers both old and new ways of discovering new music. I subscribe to three “jazz” magazines: Cadence, Down Beat, and Jazz Times. Probably several times a year I will buy music as a direct result of a review I read in one of those magazines. Maybe not even as a result of what was written in the review, as much as the fact that the review was how I became aware of the album’s existence. More often, what I read in those magazines will put a musician or group farther forward in my consciousness, so I will be more likely to buy their stuff at some point. I guess magazines and radio are the old ways of finding new music, although I don’t hear too much that is “new” on the radio these days.
Moving towards new ways of finding music, Jazz Times offers free mp3 downloads on their website. A few months ago, I downloaded a tune by Ben Allison and Medicine Wheel. I really liked it. When I opened my copy of the January Down Beat, a little card fell out. It was an eMusic promotion card. 50 free downloads with trial membership. I thought it was a special Down Beat reader deal, but it turns out to be their regular trial membership deal.
I was a member of eMusic several years ago. When it changed from $9.99 a month for “all you can eat” to $9.99 a month for 40 download tracks, I dropped my membership. Well, when I went back to check out the Down Beat deal, it reminded me of the things that I dug about it. First off, it is straight up mp3s with no DRM. I like that. More importantly however, is the wide range of stuff that they have, that I want/need to check out. It is a great way to explore new stuff. I first heard the Vandermark 5 through my old eMusic days, and that music has been very influential on me. I burned through my 50 free downloads of my trial membership in the first night. I got lots of cool music though. Ornette (a couple I didn’t have); some John Zorn I have been looking for; an Andrew Hill that I never would have bought in a store, but totally dig; an old Vandermark 5 that I didn’t have; and this Ben Allison that is slammin’. Anyway, I am back in the eMusic fold, and looking forward to more exploration.