Music Diary

Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ Celebrates 20-Years of Poser ‘Gangsta’ Pretense

While it might seem incredible to some that it has been 20 years since the release of the hit hip-hop single Ice Ice Baby by rapper Rob Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice), look at that outfit … I … I really just don’t even know what to say. To celebrate the anniversary, here is the version I have always preferred: Jim Carrey before he hit it big doing a parody for the Wayan’s Brothers variety show In Living Color: It is…


Wolfgang’s Vault and Sonos Get Close…

Although I don’t own a Sonos system, it’s something that I’ve considered purchasing several times in the past. Sonos’ wireless, multi-room music system keeps getting more tempting, too, by adding new features, including streaming services and an iPhone app. Wolfgang’s Vault, on the other hand, I’ve been using for a while.  (In fact, you can find a couple of Gear Diary posts about it here and here.)  Drawing from the archives of the late Bill Graham, Wolfgang’s Vault contains decades…


The Democratization of Music in an iTunes Era

Say what you will about iTunes and the electronic age’s impact on music and the music industry but one thing is clear — they have been great about is giving talented people exposure long before they might come to the attention of agents, scouts and record labels. That’s the case with Applegirl, who caught the world’s attention with her rendition of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face performed with nothing more than a number of iPhones. Over three million views later she has…


180 Gram Records Unveils Everly Brothers Collector’s Edition LP Box Set!

I remember reading a report early this year from the UK showing that in an age of declining physical music media sales, the only positive note was that sales of LP’s, those classic 12″ 33-1/3 RPM vinyl records, had doubled in 2009! Of course, the numbers are still small but they show there is an audience for classic vinyl records. Personally I have moved more and more to digital music. For quite a while I would buy CD’s and rip…


What a Recording Artist Needs to Sell to Make Minimum Wage

Image Courtesy Kevin Dayhoff’s Blog I had seen this image a month or so ago, but had lost the link – but it remains stunning to think of what is required for a musician to simply make minimum wage, let alone scrape by a reasonable living! The graph below shows how many of their recordings an artist would need to sell to make a mere $1,160 per month. Of course, that is gross earnings, not counting any taxes or other…


Prince Sez No Digital Tunes 4 U!

For many people, digital music stopped being a revolution – or even something to debate – a long time ago. Apple’s iTunes is the largest music retailer, and more and more sites seek a piece of the ever-growing digital music pie. But not THIS guy: Prince, in an interview with the UK paper the Daily Mirror said: “The internet’s completely over,” Prince told the paper. “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else….


More Quickie Jazz Reviews: A Few New, and a Few That Slipped Through

Image Courtesy TheLastMiles.com Recently I wrote a rather large article full of ‘quickie reviews’ for recent Jazz music releases – and the response I have gotten has been amazing! I have heard from musicians, jazz lovers, general music fans and folks who simply wanted to express appreciation that I was supporting the ‘indie’ movement even thought they had no interest in the music. Even as that article was published, I had a couple of new releases I was listening to,…


What the HECK Happened to Herbie Hancock?!?

Herbie Hancock learned a lot from his time with Miles Davis, musically and also about being restlessly creative. After leaving Miles band before the earth-shaking Bitches Brew era, he headed off to release his own series of classics. He had already carved a great space in modal music with his Blue Note recordings Maiden Voyage and Speak Like a Child, but then went on to record Fat Albert Rotunda and the classic Headhunters which solidified him as an all-time great…


Recent Jazz Releases You Would Never Hear About Otherwise

Photo from EyeShotJazz There was a time – before the internet, no less – when I really had my finger on the pulse of the jazz world. Some of it was location – I was less than an hour from Boston, Worcester, Providence RI and the Newport Jazz festival – but some of it was just knowing where to look for new information. As the years have passed by, I found that I have been relying on many of the…


John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension – To The One Review

Apparently April was CD-release party month at the old-British guitar legends home! Hot on the heels of Jeff Beck’s Emotion & Commotion comes To The One from John McLaughlin. While McLaughlin might not carry the same name recognition as Beck outside of the jazz world, the impact of the contributions of the 68-year old McLaughlin rival if not exceed those of his younger country-mate. Another similarity is that neither of these greats have rested on their laurels, constantly pushing ahead….


Jeff Beck – Emotion & Commotion Review

Just over a month ago I wrote about the special launch-day deal Amazon.com was having on the MP3 version of Jeff Beck’s new Emotion & Commotion CD. Over the last six weeks I’ve kept the CD on my iPod in heavy rotation. Needless to say I have found something to like in the first studio release in seven years from the 65-year old legendary guitarist. At the same time, this is also my least favorite Jeff Beck release since his…


1000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die

OK, so who is crazy enough to put together THAT sort of list? Apparently the folks at Groove Notes! The image I highlighted was of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1967 recording The Inflated Tear. This is my favorite recording of his, mixing free jazz elements, traditional hard-bop, and soul-flavored pop elements he’d later explore on Blacknuss and Volunteer Slavery. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad, because while it was a big hit for a non-mainstream jazz recording it…


Cool Mashup – ‘What a Wonderful World’ Meets Death Metal

Image courtesy of Wilson-Benesch I have been a huge fan of Louis Armstrong for decades, even having ‘What a Wonderful World’ as the dance I did with my mother at my wedding. The song was a huge hit for Satchmo at the end of his legendary career, and was re-released upon his death in 1972, as well as gaining huge success as a featured song from 1987’s movie Good Morning Vietnam. It has remained one of the top selling songs…


Herb Ellis, An Accessible Jazz Guitar Great, Dead at 88

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Think back to the first time you met a ‘big celebrity’ – not a sighting in a massive crowd, or perhaps getting an autograph scrawled on whatever you could grab, but when you had some actual human contact with someone considered a legend in their field; contact in the form of sharing kind words, having that person take an interest in you as a person and sharing some of their wit and wisdom. For me, that…


After 9 Months of ‘Variable Pricing’ … Music Sales Are Down

Image Courtesy of HardwareZone I think we all recognized the REAL intent last year when Apple finally caved to the music industry to allow for a new price structure in exchange for getting the same DRM-free music they were already giving everyone else: it was to make more money from every type of consumer. Anyone who didn’t get the message that day saw the truth soon enough – like my kids who instantly saw that a $15 iTunes Gift Card…


Mass Effect 2: Video Game Soundtrack Review

I recently reviewed the full soundtrack for Dragon Age: Origins, and a large part of my criticism was that it wasn’t a great value – it released well after the game was out, and suddenly made folks who paid for a ‘deluxe’ version aware that the ‘Soundtrack’ they got was really a sampler. Now the Mass Effect 2 Soundtrack has arrived, how does this one measure up, both musically and as an overall value?


Pat Metheny – Orchestrion (Jazz CD, 2010) Review

A few weeks ago I posted a video of Pat Metheny announcing his Orchestrion project. The video – and all of the machinery – were quite cool, but what really matters is the final product. Well, Orchestrion was released on January 26th, and I’ve had the chance to give it several listenings and separate the coolness of the technical accomplishment from the actual musical results.


Dragon Age Origins: Video Game Soundtrack Review

Back when I wrote about the various packages available for Dragon Age: Origins, one thing I didn’t worry about was the soundtrack. Why? Because on the graphic that accompanied the article it said ‘Digital Soundtrack’. So I assumed it meant we got the whole soundtrack – since most games with samplers are pretty clear and up-front about the whole ‘selections from the soundtrack’ thing (most recent example is Dissidia Final Fantasy). Also, buyers of either the ‘deluxe digital’ or ‘collector’s…


Common Grounds

I was walking down the hall in my office the other day and found two coworkers engrossed in a discussion about their iPhones. They were comparing apps and enthusiastically discussing Dragon Dictation, Google Maps, and a barcode scanner app. What was really shocking is that while one of them is a big techy, the other one was definitely not. But they both were excitedly talking about their smartphones and comparing the iPhone to the Droid, etc. Afterward, I made an…


Review: Vijay Iyer – Historicity (Jazz CD, 2009)

Because of – or perhaps in spite of – the fact that my musical tastes fall well outside of the mainstream, I have always been suspicious of something that has become the ‘latest critical darling’, even when it is from an artist I love. In recent years I remember buying ‘River: The Joni Letters’ on release because of the artist making the recording (Herbie Hancock), his guests (Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove and vocalists Norah Jones, Tina Turner), and…


How much is that MP3 Download Worth? How about $80,000?!?

I am a staunch anti-piracy fighter: I engage in forum discussions about it on a regular basis, and also being a hardcore PC gamer I see the direct impact of piracy on that hobby. I see how it has impacted where developers target their games, how many top-level PC games are released, and the increasingly draconian DRM schemes used to try to thwart piracy … most of which simply punish honest customers. I constantly rail against piracy and try to…