Dave Douglas on improvisation

Cool thoughts from Dave Douglas.

Greenleaf Music

“If you know what you want why not just write it?”

Because improvisation makes great music. It’s an element of music with explosive potential. Sparks fly when musicians are forced to make choices. The energy of surprise is one of the things I love most in music: The sense that anything could happen. There’s also a power in hearing the individual make a choice that I find captivating. Hearing the voice of an individual musician is one of the hallmarks of jazz, and I believe it’s a strength that can travel.

Greenleaf Music

Self production seems to be the way things are going in the music industry. Internet focused models that help create better connections with listeners, and access to more varied output from the artists are gaining traction. (See Artist Share)

Dave Douglas’ new label, Greenleaf Music, has an interesting subscriber model. Check out their subscriber page for more info on what it entails. They also offer individual song downloads, as well as full album downloads and physical CDs. The downloads are mp3, which implies no DRM, so you can actually listen to the music you buy on the player of your choice. There is a blog and internet radio as well. Looks like a couple of steps in the right direction to me.

Thanks to be.jazz for the heads up.

Territory Band 4 – Company Switch

Dealing with free improvisation in the context of a large ensemble has always been a challenge. Sometimes a larger group just means more and louder noise. Other times, it can mean more arranged material and a lesser feeling of freedom. On Company Switch, Territory Band – 4 does a good job of balancing those extremes, and creating interesting and challenging music.

There are times when the music really swings in a spirited manner similar to the great Coltrane quartet. The rambunctious blowing one can expect from most Ken Vandermark projects is also present. The noisy elements of this CD receive great contributions from the guitar and electronics. The approach to the acoustic parts of the music is so, well acoustic, that the electronic entrances can be jarring. I am fairly confident that this is the intended effect. I don’t really like the way the acoustic instruments and the electric ones are mixed, but that is more likely a function of personal taste than bad production practices.

The album is made up of 2 CDs with three tracks each. The third track on the first disc is entitled “Franja.” This cut alone is worth the price of admission. It manages to effectively touch all of the bands varied musical bases in just under 21 minutes, and the music that happens during Fredrik Ljungkvist’s tenor sax solo is astounding.

This isn’t music that works in the background as you go about your daily business. The dynamic range is wide and the subtleties are an integral part of the musical experience. As with most music that stretches, Company Switch rewards the attentive listener.

This Cd is on the Okka Disk label.

Rob Wagner trio with Hamid Drake and Nobu Ozaki

I heard some great music tonight. Before the hurricane, Rob Wagner played Monday nights at dba steadily for a couple of years at least. He was back tonight, with Nobu Ozaki on bass, and Hamid Drake on drums. They are all in town to record Rob’s next CD.

Rob Wagner Trio 2

The music was great. These particular guys have not played together a great deal, so each member of the group was extra attentive, and the focus payed off. The music was nimble and lively with a buoyant spirit about it. The musicians interacted gracefully, but were not hesitant to follow the music to its boisterous heights.

They go into the studio this week. I look forward to hearing the results.

Young ‘prefer illegal song swaps’

From a BBC story ,BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Young ‘prefer illegal song swaps’ :

Jupiter analyst Mark Mulligan said: “The digital youth of today are being brought up on a near limitless diet of free and disposable music from file-sharing networks.

“When these consumers age and increase spending power they should become key music buying consumers.

He added: “Unless the music industry can transition these consumers whilst they are young away from free consumption to paid music formats, be they digital or CDs, they may never develop music purchasing behaviour and the recording industry could suffer long-term harm.”

I think part of this is because the music industry is seen as a large cold faceless glob of evil, which much of it is. My friend, jazz artist David Gibson, has suggested that as we move to more independent production, that the artists will become the face of their music (instead of a many major labels that seem like they would prefer to sue you, or ruin your computer, as much as sell a CD to you), and people will be less likely to steal it. That seems to make sense.

Canadian artist Jane Siberry has a digital music store that seems to run on that theory. There is a nice description of the principle in this Boing Boing post.

A composer to scare the bejesus out of the IPO

An interesting look at a seemingly grumpy composer.

Haaretz – Israel News – A composer to scare the bejesus out of the IPO

I like this quote:

“Enjoyment is a historical experience. People enjoy Mozart, Dvorak, Berlioz. If I want to enjoy a melody, I go to Schubert. This is a cultural experience. But of a work that was written the day before yesterday, I am critical. The enjoyment is only a part of my listening, a niche. Art is too serious a matter to limit it to the concept of enjoyment. That’s primitive. When a work appeals to taste, it is appealing to a low level: This is the same taste that chooses the color of a car, or upholstery, or a table. This is the same taste that chooses what ice cream to lick. Taste is base artistic judgment.”

Thanks to John W for sending the article my way.

Deborah Weisz – Grace (for Will)

Grace (for Will) by Deborah Weisz is a rewarding CD of mostly original music. “Touch” by Jim McNeely, and the standard “Body and Soul” are the only compositions on the recording that aren’t by Weisz or one of her bandmates. The stylistic range is from the fairly free to the swinging straight ahead. “Pablo’s Crib” by saxophonist Andrew Sterman is particularly catchy.

Weisz’s trombone playing is superb. Her sound is rich and full, and her time feel is fluid and swinging. Andrew Sterman’s saxophone stands out in a positive way, especially when the band reaches to those farther out spaces. The presence of Olivier Ker Ourio’s chromatic harmonica on 5 tracks adds and interesting sonic color and a fresh new voice.

I bought this disc somewhat out of curiosity, because I was not very familiar with Weisz’s music. It has stayed in my personal rotation since it arrived. Grace (for Will) is available from Cadence and CD Baby.