Music

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 same sources – radio, magazines, tracing through other artists discographies – but with decreasing success in finding new music outside…


Aluratek Drops a Brick (For Your iPhone, That Is)

When I think of a brick, I either think of the actual structural element from which buildings are constructed, or I think of any electronic device that seems unnecessarily large and cumbersome.  Now, Aluratek wants us to reimagine the word as an audio component. Aluratek is releasing their latest product, the Brick Speaker Dock for iPhone/iPod this week.  Aluratek boasts that the Brick offers high-quality sound at an affordable price.  It will work with the iPod Touch, iPhone, and any iPod model with a click wheel.  As it includes a 3.5mm auxiliary input, the Brick can also be used with other mp3 players. …


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. Yet there is always a common thread and respect for their own history and fan-base. Such is case with the…


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 early 90’s rockabilly outing Crazy Legs. Let me give a bit of background and then dig into a song-by-song review….


Wait … YOU Had The App Made … and it is Just for ME, to Give ME Free Stuff?!?!

A long time ago I signed up on the Verve Music site in order to gain access to some ‘exclusive’ John Coltrane content. Since 2003 I have gotten more or less weekly emails from them, generally throw-aways promoting whomever was new, but with some occasional gems. Fairly typical for a music publisher and nothing obnoxious enough to make me unsubscribe. The last several months, however, have been a nearly daily stream of emails related to American Idol Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee and her latest recording “Unbroken”. Verve has been absolutely punishing my inbox with pseudo-personalized emails pushing me to…


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 wasn’t exactly setting the charts on fire – as stated in AllAboutJazz, “Roland Kirk won over the masses with this…


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 in the jazz store on iTunes, and is one of those songs that quickly fins fans across the generations. The…


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 person was legendary jazz guitarist Herb Ellis, who died Monday night at the age of 88. When you’re a kid…


Rad Blaster Review: Don’t Always Believe the Hype

As bloggers we’re all guilty of it.  We see some really cool gadget over the internet, or we’re sent a random press release on what’s described as the next, greatest widget to hit since the invention of the cell phone.  Usually we spot some fancy press release picture along with it which only serves to further peak our interest. So what do we do?  We post about it.  Sometimes we even offer our opinion on how “cool” the thing looks.  Or the fact that we’d love to have one.  But guess what?  We’ve never even held it once, never tested…


Two Reasons I Hate the Slacker / Pandora / etc Internet Radio Apps

As if by amazing serendipity, I had just started writing this when I read Carly Z’s “Adventures in Internet Radio” talking about traveling with Pandora and Slacker. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to love these apps! Loads of music, tons of choices, affinity selection with ‘learning’ system that allows you to help the apps do their job better. In fact, since before Christmas not a week has gone by that we haven’t used either Slacker or Pandora on either my Droid or iPod Touch to play music for the whole family, and when my younger son…


Review: Milk Crater For iPhone/Touch

Browsers have become a huge part of all of our computing lives. Internet, operating systems, phones, music players all use a browser. It is interesting that most browsing experiences are similar. Other than slight differences or innovations, they really stay the same. The same rings true with the iPod function on the iPhone/Touch. Nothing is wrong with the music browser, but what if you wanted something different or new? Milk Crater takes browsing to the future turning your iPod library into a visual field of cover art. Click through to find out more.


Review: Sandisk SlotRadio+ Billboard Hits

Some companies continue to try to find a way to replace audio CD’s in brick and mortar stores like Wal-Mart.  For most of the Gear Diary staff, digital downloads via iTunes Music store, Amazon MP3 Store or the Zune store have all but replaced audio CD’s.  What could be easier than downloading a MP3 and putting it on your player? SanDisk is trying again to do this with  SlotRadio+. SlotRadio+ is basically very similar to SlotRadio, but not only has 1000 music tracks on it, it also has 4 Gigs of storage for your own music.  This sounds pretty cool…


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 was worth about 4 songs less than before. Well, it turns out that folks are none too happy – and…


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 edition’ got a selection of songs from the soundtrack, effectively half of the 35 songs, although there are some songs…


eMusic Gets New Brothers – Warner Bros., That Is

I’ve been a long-time user of eMusic’s subscription service.  One of the early online music services (selling DRM-free MP3 downloads since 1998), eMusic was the first of which I was aware to offer a subscription-based music sales model.  They offer several different monthly packages for which you receive credits that can be used for purchasing individual tracks or whole albums.  The cost per track ranges from $0.54 for an eMusic Lite monthly subscription to $0.36 for an eMusic Plus annual subscription.  Many albums are available for 12 credits – or roughly $6, depending on your subscription level. Until the middle…


Merecal is a Media Lovers Friend

I got a $100 Amazon gift certificate from Kerry for Christmas (thank you Kerry!!), and for half a second I was tempted to blow it immediately on Kindle titles from authors I already follow. After thinking about it, I instead sent out a tweet asking for suggestions. One of them came from @Merecal … “Weird name” I thought to myself, but I didn’t yet understand. I went to the site and saw a full list of books – many by authors that I follow, and many of them not yet available. I looked at the titles and saw ‘bindings” specified…


Agile Partners Updates Star 6 For iPhone: Get To Mixing!

Agile Partners, creators of some wonderful music apps, have just significantly updated their beat mixing application Star6.  I recently reviewed two of their apps for guitarists that have become some of my most use apps.  Check out the reviews for Guitar ToolKit and Tab ToolKit. Star6 is a music mixer that utilizes the accelerometer and touch interface to create a truly unique musical experience.  I am a musician, but have never done hip hop style beat mixes, so I was unsure if the app would even work in my hands.  As you will see, it is quite easy to use!


Vijay Iyer – Historicity (Jazz CD, 2009) Review

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 of course the subject of the tribute (Joni Mitchell). I played it a few times, since nothing really ‘stuck’ the…


iPlaylist Creator for iPhone/Touch App Review

How amazing would it be to be able to create play-lists from any songs on your iPhone without syncing or using iTunes or a computer?  I have found a way to do just that!  iPlaylist Creator enables iPhone users to create and listen to play lists on the go easily on the iPhone. Features: -Creates Playlists -Easy Drag and Drop songs into any playlist -Sort the songs how you want to play them -Reorder your playlists manually to make your favorite ones show at the top of the list -Color your playlists and change the colors to match your moods…