Music Diary Songs of Note: When Live is Better Than Studio

Music Diary Songs of Note: When Live is Better Than Studio

In pop and rock music, the benefits of seeing a live show are largely about the experience – either the artist has a great stage show, loads of energy, or just presents a great opportunity to share a love of music with other like-minded individuals. Seldom is what happens live better than the studio representation – and sometimes when the theatrics of the stage show are highlighted the live elements are enhanced with pre-recorded elements. Of course, there are many, many exceptions to this … but for every Frank Zappa or Bruce Springsteen there are a dozen Tom Pettys or Britney Spears or Miranda Cosgroves.

In the world of jazz, things are generally exactly the opposite – musicians in the studio have a hard time capturing the intimate communication and intense interplay that characterizes their live performances. And I would argue that in cases where that is NOT true (*cough* Kenny G *cough*) … it wasn’t really jazz in the first place.

But it is still rare to have bland source material turned into a masterful live performance, yet that is exactly what turned up in my YouTube subscription update this week. In 2003 Wynton Marsalis released ‘Magic Hour’, his first new material in several years and first small group recording since … a long time ago! I quickly bought it on CD, and it has been off my iPod and iTunes since 2004. It was just exceedingly mediocre, and made me want to listen to his much better small group material like 1985’s ‘Black Codes from the Underground’.

Yet when performed live, those same bland melodies and harmonies come to life in a way I wouldn’t have believed possible. Part of it is the live nature of the performance, part the amazing band Marsalis has been working with, part of it comes from subtle reworking of the source material … and the rest, I have no idea.

However it happened, it is really great stuff, and Wynton Marsalis released a 35-minute chunk of his group performing it at Ronnie Scott’s in England from August 19th. It is cool stuff … give a listen.

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!