Music Diary

Music Diary Reviews: All New Stuff Only!

Recently I have been mixing in reissues with new releases in these review articles … but this time around there is just way too much new stuff to step back in time. But don’t worry, I’ll be doing a separate look at some re-releases … and a separate look at some late 2010 pop & rock stuff … and also a focus article on a couple of truly superlative recent releases! Another thing – in the past I have tended to simply list the reviews randomly … but no more. You can be assured that if a CD is first…


Random Cool Video: Josh Groban Sings the Tweets of Kanye West

Aside from liking his short stint on Ally McBeal back in the 90’s I have never been a fan of Josh Groban. As for Kanye West, I have been poring over his latest recording and trying to come up with a review that says more than ‘interesting music ruined whenever Mr. West opens his damn mouth’! But put them together? Pure gold! This cool video reminds me of some of the great fake commercials from Saturday Night Live and In Living Color in years past … and is simply worth watching. The overly dramatic tone of Groban’s great voice with…


Music Diary Notes: ‘Shocking’ Poll Alert – Most Music Fans Want Apple to Price-Match Amazon!

OK, every now and then I see a poll that has me not so much looking at the results as thinking ‘what did the OTHER bunch of people think’? Over at MusicMagazineUK there is a new article with poll results to questions posed last week. There were three questions, and all were Yes/No. Here are the results: 86% of people want a price match with Amazon’s services. 71% of people want Apple to reduce the restrictions on variable song and album pricing. 57% of people are unconcerned about easier integration with third party services. Note that the last result was…


Music Diary Notes: The Smithsonian Institute Challenges You to Test Your Jazz Knowledge

Do you love Jazz? Do you like taking sound quizzes? Do you think you know the history of jazz well enough to take a huge online test? Well, the Smithsonian has a challenge for you! Next March, according to the Smithsonian site, an all-new anthology of jazz music, featuring 111 songs across 6 CDs. There is 80% new material compared with the classic 1973 collection – I had this one tape for years until I wore them out and bought it on CD back in the 90’s. Here are some details on the release: Seven years in the making, ‘JAZZ:…


Apple Has a Gift Tree … I Have an iPod Tree!

In the ‘last minute gift’ email from Apple yesterday they included the image at the top, showing representations of various Apple products on the base of a Mac Pro, with different colored iPod Shuffles as ornaments. It is a cool image that immediately struck me. On reason it struck me was that while I was gathering up gear to stuff in the SeV Expedition for my review video, I took all of our iPods and arranged them in a sort of ‘family tree’ and took a few pictures. I had thought it might make a good basis for a post…


Music Diary Notes: Spotify Gives Up US Launch for 2010 … Will Anyone Care When it DOES Arrive?

In case you haven’t heard of it, Spotify is a free-or-paid subscription music service that works differently than something like Slacker or Pandora in a few ways. First off, you can immediately stream whatever song you want from their massive library of publisher material. Next, the service integrates with your existing music to form an extended library available for immediate listening online even when you’re away from your home PC. But one of the biggest things about the service is the social aspect – sharing playlists of stuff you love with others is a form of music discovery that has…


Music Diary Review: eMusic Changes Pricing Structure in Face of Fourth Year with No Subscriber Growth

I have to admit – I USED eMusic more than once. And by ‘used’ I don’t just mean ‘make use of the service’ … I mean that I grabbed one of those ‘get 50 tracks free’ offers, canceled after the first month, and wait for the next email with another offer or 50 or 75 tracks for free. But a few months ago I had used up all of my free tracks, and had more I wanted to grab … so I let my membership charge persist. And again, and again this past month. Then a week or so ago…


Music Diary Notes: Watch Full Concerts of Jason Moran and The Bad Plus for FREE!

Image courtesy of jazzenzo Each time I write a set of Music Diary reviews I try to find a clip of the artists actually playing music from the recording live. Typically what you find on YouTube is a single song, often of questionable quality – that is if you can find any live recordings at all. So I was thrilled today to find via an article at NPR that a music festival from earlier this year had released some full concert videos, with great Even better is that that two featured artists were ones I had written about in this…


Music Diary Notes: Help Jason Parker Realize His Nick Drake Tribute Project

If you have never heard of British singer/songwriter Nick Drake, it is because he maintained a very low profile, releasing three albums before dying at the young age of 26. Yet over the last 35 years his amazing talent has been realized more and more and he is now seen as one of the most influential British singer-songwriters of the last half century. I have always been a vocal supporter of the Jason Parker Quartet, and not just because I like their music! Jason Parker uses technology in a very intelligent and cooperative way to work with his audience and…


Music Diary Notes: So iTunes Gets The Beatles … Do You Care?

It now seems oddly prescient that just last week I walked through the Beatles catalog, as today we find the meaning of the teaser announcement “Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget.” The question is … do we care? In terms of what is there, you can get all of the 12 original recordings, the 1973 collections ‘1962-1966’ and ‘1967-1970’, as well as the more recent ‘Past Masters Vol 1 & 2’. All are basically the same 2009 remasters I reviewed, in ‘high quality’ iTunes AAC format. There is also a ‘complete collection’, which has everything except the…


Music Diary Retrospective: A Magical Mystery Tour of the Beatles Catalog

It is hard to believe (well, for me anyway), but we are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, after just recently passing the 70th anniversary of his birth. We are also 40 years since the break-up of the Beatles, so in honor of all of these anniversaries going on I decided to take a walk through the Beatles official release catalog. The entire set was released just over a year ago fully remastered, and it is those versions I will revisit. This means that my brother’s copy of Meet the Beatles will be left unaddressed….


Music Diary Retrospective: In Memorium of T Lavitz, I Look at The Dregs ‘Industry Standard’ and More!

A few weeks ago we learned that jazz keyboard player T Lavitz died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 54. Lavitz was best known for his time in the jazz-rock fusion group Dixie Dregs, but also released high-profile solo works, and he also formed groups such as the critically acclaimed Players, as well as Jazz is Dead which was an ensemble of veteran jazz players reinterpreting works of the Grateful Dead. Lavitz was one of the many talented artists to come out of the University of Miami’s ground-breaking jazz education program of the 1970’s (including most of the…


Music Diary Reviews: Nothing Spooktacular Here!

Welcome to another edition of Music Diary Reviews! I am absolutely loving the variety of stuff I’ve been able to sample recently – there is pop, rock, fusion, jazz, and a couple of re-issues that have been thrilling my iPod for the last few weeks. There are young artists releasing new stuff, old artists with new material, an import, an interesting setting for an established player, a reissue of an out of print recording and a new collection by a great master! And about the image at top? It IS Halloween week after all, and the folks at sheetmusicdigital have…


Music Diary Review: Pat Metheny Orchestrion Live!

Image courtesy Hans Speekenbrink via AllAboutJazz.com Last night I took my family to see Pat Metheny and his Orchestrion live at the Anderson Performing Arts center in Binghamton, NY. Early this year I noted the introduction to the technology here and reviewed the CD here. When the concert tour was first announced, I was unsurprised that the nearest spots would be about four hours away from me (one thing I really miss about the Boston area!) So when a follow-up set of dates was announced in May that would bring Metheny within an hour … I grabbed tickets right away…


Celebrate the 70th Anniversary of John Lennon’s Birth With A Live Concert Recording

Today John Lennon would have turned 70, had he not been shot in December of 1980. In November of 1980 he released his last record, Double Fantasy, after 5 years on hiatus from music recording. This week on iTunes they have a massive collection of his newly remastered work, including a free version of Starting Over from Double Fantasy. There is even a 11-CD ‘signature box’ with loads and loads of extras. If you want to listen to some great live Lennon, head on over to Wolfgang’s Vault John Lennon Tribute, where they are featuring a 1972 John Lennon concert…


Music Diary Reviews: What’s Old is New Again Edition

Welcome to another edition of Music Diary Reviews! Wait – what Music Diary Reviews, you ask? I have been doing a series of short CD reviews grouped into full-scale articles, and seem to have no intention in stopping, so it was time to give them a real name! The basic idea is the same – a short capsule review of new release music with some highlights, a track selection and some buyer advice … and a quick video if I can find one. What started as just another set of reviews took on a particular theme this time: there are…


Idol Thoughts: Give Me Katy and NPH Instead

Last night we got the ‘official’ news of what anyone who remotely follows popular television programming has known for weeks – Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are joining Randy Jackson to make up the panel for the new season of American Idol. As I have stated before, my family is of the opinion that Idol has been on a pretty drastic slide since … well, even before Paula left, since they started having more obvious ‘plants’ (Carly Smithson) in the line-up. But with the departure of Paula, the foundering uselessness of Kara Dioguardi and the bizarre choice of obvious non-music-person…


Music Diary Reviews: Dogs & Cats Living Together Edition

Over the last few months I have done dozens of short CD reviews articles here, here and here. I continue to get great feedback about this ‘Quick Review’ format, so I plan to keep using it as a way to give a brief overview of a number of new releases all at once. Last time I changed things up a bit by looking at a couple of not-so-good releases. Fortunately I have some great stuff to review this time – but am changing things up again! Did you notice the title doesn’t say ‘Quickie Jazz CD Reviews’? That is because…


Vijay Iyer – Solo (2010) Jazz CD Review

I can hardly believe it has been nearly a year since I reviewed Vijay Iyer’s Historicity. I marked that recording high on my list of ‘best music of 2009’, so I was hotly anticipating his next release. I wasn’t alone in my praise – at his official site, the description calls it “one of the most acclaimed albums of the decade, Vijay Iyer’s debut on ACT Music is a trio album combining his searing originals with a surprising batch of covers.” As a result, the new release ‘Solo’ has gained plenty of attention already – but is it worth buying?…


CD Retrospective: 40 Years Later, Miles Davis Bitches Brew STILL Polarizes Jazz Fans

In every medium, every genre, there are transitions from one period to the next, silent to ‘talkies’ to color films, baroque to classical to romantic in classical music, and so on. But seldom is there a singular musical even that forms such a clear demarcation in a genre as Miles Davis 1970 Bitches Brew does for Jazz music. As stated on the Miles-Beyond blog, everything in Jazz comes down to ‘before’ or ‘after’ Bitches Brew. It is interesting to look back and realize that in spite of being one of the clear stars of jazz from the 1940’s until his…


Music Industry Says Sales Still Lousy, Still Blaming Piracy, Still Trying to Raise Prices and Force Album-Only Sales Model

There is a great Veggie Tales song The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, where they are supposed to be singing about ‘piratey stuff’ but Larry is singing about … nonsense. At the end they conclude ‘you just don’t get it’. And THAT is exactly what I was thinking when I read the news about the sorry state of album sales at NPR. Here is the video, just in case you don’t know the song: From the article: The month of August — like, basically, every month for the past 10 years — has not been kind to the music industry….