Posts filed under “Digital Media”

Amazon Launches DRM-free ITMS competitor

Amazon

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Amazon.com just announced they will be full fledged, DRM-free competitor with Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Amazon.com today announced it will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels. EMI Music’s digital catalog is the latest addition to the store. Every song and album in the Amazon.com digital music store will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. Amazon’s DRM-free MP3s will free customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices — including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods, Zunes, Zens — and to burn songs to CDs for personal use.

I am sure we will hear more about this later . . .

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Sources:

Amazon.com to Launch DRM-Free MP3 Music Download Store
Songs and Albums from EMI Music and More Than 12,000 Other Labels
BUSINESS WIRE, May 16, 2007 09:00 AM
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=
176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1003003&highlight=

Category: Digital Media, Music, Web/Tech

SIRE Presentation: Music, Media & Markets

Category: Digital Media, Markets, Media, Music

Friday Night Jazz: Gerry Mulligan

Paraiso_2About 10 years ago, while window shopping in Sag Harbor (the least offensive of the Hamptons), I hear this fabulous music wafting out the door of a small shop.

Turns out it was Gerry Mulligan‘s CD, Paraiso-Jazz Brazil. An eye opener. Clean, cool recording of lovely Latin melodies, all the while overlaid with this dry, reedy saxophone that infused the music with a flavorful sophistication.

Mulligan_chetbakerThat was Gerry Mulligan’s sound.  NPR radio observed that Mulligan was "the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz." But Mulligan was more than that — he was a
commanding composer, an innovative musician, someone who pushed boundaries, yet remained accessible and enjoyable to listen to.

His history of playing with other key Jazz greats is rather astounding: He worked with Miles Davis‘ on the historic Birth of the Cool. He created a piano-less ensemble, with trumpeter Chet Baker.

Meets_monkHe cut albums with Thelonius Monk, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Judy Hollidaythe list of sidemen goes on and on.

Mulligan’s light and airy baritone saxophone was the epitome of the the "cool" jazz sound. Yet its amazing how easily he could interact with many other musical styles: Ben Webster’s blustery tenor (the epitome of a "warm" sound); Monk’s percussive, fractured piano rhythms and dissonant tunes; the sweet, subtle tension between Mulligan and Chet Baker.

M_plays_mYou can pretty much grab any random Mulligan album (I put up a decent selection here) and not be disappointed. You will see scattered around a broad selection of different styles, eras, and musical cohorts.

Are you a Brubeck fan? Monk? Chet Baker? Webster? Desmond? Grab anything, sit back and enjoy.

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Mulligan became known for his writing and arranging skills in his teens. He wrote for Johnny Warrington’s radio band in 1944, and for Gene Krupa’s band two years later.

BerlinMulligan hit the big time when he became known for his work (writing, arranging, and soloing) on Miles Davis’ defining album, "Birth of the Cool." Gerry’s compositions for this album included "Jeru," "Godchild," and "Venus de Milo," all songs that would remain in his repertoire long after the initial success of the album had died down. (This album launched and aided several careers of important jazz figures).

Mulligan’s last record came out as one of his most beautiful. Lovely tunes, clever arrangements, and understated fabulous players mark his last recording (John Scofield and
Grover Washington, Jr. play on this).

DragonflySimply timeless music.

Mulligan Discography (massive PDF)

NYT Mulligan Obit

Mulligan Videos after the jump

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Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Are CD Prices Coming Down?

We have long criticized the absurd Retail pricing of CDs. A few years ago, we asked the question Are CD Prices Getting More Dynamic?

It seems that some people in the industry have actually read The Long Tail, and figured out that they are better off pricing older catalog CDs aggressively, and actually selling them, rather than maintaining an absurd list price for 20, 30, even 50 year old recordings, and letting them sit in some warehouse somewhere unsold.

At the same time, it must be mentioned that the preponderence of utterly brain damaged morons in positions of authority in the Music Biz has not attenuated one tiny bit. They are the anti Long Tailers, also known as The Fat Heads.

The latest evidence of blunt head trauma syndrome is via this little piece of advanced rocketry: To sell used CDs in some states, at the behest of the industry, you are required to: 1) have your fingerprints taken; 2) endure a 30 day waiting period; 3) only recieve store credit for used CDs (not cash).

Idiots.

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Meanwhile, in the world of online retailing, Amazon has done a decent job taking CDs and recordings that are Long Tail — either via age, or obscurity, or just overdue — and making them available at more competitive prices.

As traditional CD sellers disappear, the long tail catalog will be found increasingly at Online retailers, while the Big BOx (Wal Mart, Best Buy, Target) only carries the latest top 50 hits.

It makes smart business sense to use Amazon to blow them out.

After the jump, there’s a handful of Discs I pulled from Amazon — most are $7.97 . . .

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Sources:
NARM Coverage: New Laws Threaten Used CD Market
Ed Christman, Chicago
Billboard May, 01, 2007 – Retail
http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i9ebf2d8ce6fd1e267bac18d43959ac24

Record shops: Used CDs? Ihre papieren, bitte!
Ken Fisher
Ars Technica,May 07, 2007 – 01:23PM CT
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070507-record-shops-used-cds-ihre-papieren-bitte.html

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Category: Digital Media, Music, Retail

Friday Night Jazz: Artie Shaw

Another guest musical director for FNJ this week: Eddie Elfenbein of Crossing Wall Street on Artie Shaw. Take it away, Eddie:

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Rare_and_unreleased Artie Shaw was cool. Not Elvis cool or Sinatra cool, but a darker, more subdued cool.

What Shaw did was make things look easy. Check out this clip and notice how, even after six decades, his music hasn’t aged a bit. It’s still fresh and smooth. It’s just…cool. (You gotta love Shaw’s reply to the compliments: “Yeah, yeah. Glass of water.” Pure cool.)

Artie Shaw was the very last of the big bandleaders. He died a year ago at age 94 and fifty years after his last performance. He wound up outliving all the greats—Goodman, Herman, Miller. Those names may loom larger today, but back then, Shaw’s star was the brightest. He was making $60,000 a week—not bad for the Depression. With America poised to enter World War II, Time magazine reported that Germans’ vision of America was “skyscrapers, Clark Gable and Artie Shaw.”

Fascists, apparently, have issues with tall buildings.

Complete_gramercy_five_sessions
When Shaw hired Billie Holiday, he became the first white bandleader to hire a full-time black singer. But Shaw detested the limelight. In fact, Shaw hated the words “jazz” and “swing.” No, he considered himself a musician. He hated the audience. He hated the singers. He hated the dancers. He hated other bandleaders (“Benny Goodman played clarinet. I played music.”)

By 1951, Shaw walked away from music altogether and became—what else?—a dairy farmer. Crazy, maybe, but cool in its own way. Duke Ellington told him, “Man, you got more guts than any of us.

So what did Shaw like? Women. Lots and lots of them. He was married eight times. He nabbed Betty Grable which would have pleased most men. Not Shaw. While they were engaged, he ran off with Lana Turner. (Whoa, Duke was right!) Shaw had an affair with Rita Hayworth. He dumped Judy Garland. He married Ava Gardner before Sinatra. How in earth did he have time enough time for music?

Ah, the music. Brilliant. Here’s an example: In 1938, Shaw took an obscure and forgotten Cole Porter song and made it a jazz classic. Have a listen to “Begin the Beguine.

If you’re keeping score, that’s a Jewish bandleader playing Negro music written by a homosexual.

Very_best_of_artie_shaw Exceedingly trivial trivia: “Begin the Beguine” has been performed a gazillion times since. In the movie, The Rocketeer, it’s performed by Melora Hardin, who’s better known as Jan in The Office. (Told you it was trivial.)

If you’ve never heard of Shaw and want to get your feet wet, I’d recommend: The Very Best of Artie Shaw

That pretty much has it all. Personally, I love “Star Dust” and “Deep Purple.” Wonderful stuff.

Two others you might enjoy are:  The Complete Gramercy Five Sessions (all the big band guys made smaller bands after the war); and Last Recordings: Rare and Unreleased.

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BR adds:  Thanks Eddy — nicely done. There is a terrific recording of Shaw over at NPR:  Performance by Shaw of Shaw’s 1940 Concerto for Clarinet

videos after the jump . .


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Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Amy Winehouse

Yet another talented UK vocalist taking her cues from the past, but with a modern twist: Amy Winehouse. Winehouse’s 2nd album, Back to Black, freshens up the classic soul albums with original songs done in the style of the 1950/60′s girl groups.

New Yorker Magazine got it just right — “a fierce English performer whose voice combines the smoky depths of a jazz chanteuse with the heated passion of a soul singer.” I hate when people compare a new performer with the greats, but you can say that stylistically, she falls between Billie Holiday and Ronnie Spector.

This is the fourth musician we’ve spotlighted, who have gone retro — delving into an older genre and freshening it up (Bitter:Sweet, James Hunter and Joss Stone were the first three). Except for Bitter:Sweet, they all seem to hail from England.

There’s a good interview here and 4 videos of acoustic versions of her songs after the jump (I cannot link to AOL’s DL as its a terribly annoying site)

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Category: Digital Media, Music

Friday Night Jazz: Dexter Gordon

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Friday Nite Jazz: Music for the Jazz Damaged

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Neil Young Live at Massey Hall

I haven’t heard this new CD/DVD yet, but the reviews are great, and the live version below is outstanding: Live at Massey Hall.


Neil Young

Neil_young

I saw CSNY this summer — great show.

More Neil vids after the jump . . .

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Category: Digital Media, Music

Friday Night Jazz Classical

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music