Sunday, November 30, 2003

Audio Posts - the future baby?

Powered by audblogRob's First Flugelhorn audio post powered by audblog

I couldn't resist - this could be a neat way to exchange musical ideas, give lessons, collaborate... maybe some day I'll report my incredible quarterly earnings via this tool - ha!

Hats off to the folks putting this together.

Rob Birdwell

The Buddy System

Buddy Collette interview - the dark, wet, dreary days of winter in the Pacific Northwest aren't getting me down (much). Sure, I long for those sunny days to return (and they will) but meanwhile, more time in doors mean more time for writing, practicing, study and...well, just dreaming.

I once new a composer who arranged at least one piece a week, every week, no exceptions. This kind of dicipline was intimidating at the time - but now it makes sense. It turns out that when you love to do something, there's no reason not to work on something all the time.

Last night I wrote "Los Compadres" (a jazz head tune) - the week before was "1-4-U" (a modal tune a la Maiden Voyage)...before that was "Beautiful Moments" (a vocal jazz tune)...and next week? Who knows? These days I'm finding that my little offerings are less fragmentary and more full-fledged tunes or charts. Maybe it's just a case of all my half-written works finishing themselves off - I'd hate to think it's a "maturity" thing!

I recently dug out my Buddy Collette song book that I've had in my "books to play through and study" collection for over 10 years - a great composer, performer and educator, my copy of Buddy's book bears his autograph and some kind words. Buddy was offering a clinic several years ago and I was inspired by his wisdom and gracious way. He shared many pearls of advice and his approach to Jazz; he listened, played along and gave out his song books. What a wonderful thing to pass on to students of Jazz!

Thanks for the music Buddy! It's a ray of light in these gray northwest days!

Monday, November 24, 2003

ALLOFMP3 - Russian site offers entire CD downloads - but is this legal?

ALLOFMP3 - Russian site offers entire CD downloads - but is this legal? - is operating under "Russian" laws governing intellectual property. It's not clear to me what that means, but their disclaimer seems clear - they punt on the issue and put the onus on the user of their service to remain in compliance with their "local" laws.

Is the catch here that users can't get CD quality downloads (but very close) - is that what enables this "service" to be possible?

Hey ASCAP, BMI - what do your organizations think about this? Are the artists getting their residuals?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

SNL - where's the LIVE in music performances? > Saturday Night Live > Message Board - week-to-week the musical guests vary - some are actually interesting. I would be the first to admit that I can't keep up with all the latest music groups on the scene, so SNL is one of the rare times I actually tune in to TV and indulge.

One question I would like to pose to the producers and writers of SNL: why not feature the SNL band sometime? And do it right! Sure they get the occasional backing opportunity from the wise and progressive performers, but most acts invariably hit the stage with with their own pre-recorded karaoke machine with a few imposter musicians and backup singers thrown in to make it look...err, LIVE - maybe that's harsh and even unfair, but let's face it - it's the truth. It's also a shame.

Can you imagine being one of the talented players in the band and watching some "popular" performer dance his/her way through their number while pretending to sing? That would really suck, but that's exactly what happened recently (October 2003).

Why are the SNL producers allowing this? Although her Act II number was clearly sung live (and no comment there) why was Brittany Spears allowed to perform an aerobic exercise (Act I) sans any singing whatsoever (as it was evident to me that no human could sustain the kind of polished and slickly produced vocals while doing the head twists and various jungle gyrations she was doing)? The choreography was fine, if you like that sort of thing, but whatever happened to the LIVE in SNL as far as musical acts are concerned? Or does that only apply to dancing?

Yes, this is a rare rant from me - enjoy it while you can!

Monday, November 17, 2003

One For The Road - a documentary about Glenn Tilbrook's life and work on the road!

One For The Road - a documentary about Glenn Tilbrook's life and work on the road! - a great singer and songwriter. I'm really looking forward to seeing this - it sounds like they've made some progress and that it might really make the screen someday...soon!

This is a great site for those who enjoy Glenn Tilbrook's work. I saw him perform at a small guitar shop in Los Angeles in 1988 - Chris Difford was there too. It was such a nice evening - what talent!

I've always dreamed of being on the road - ah, the romance and adventure! Naturally, I'd want to bring my wife and kids along (plus the dog and cat!) - mm...I hope they make really big RVs! Maybe someday we'll try it - in the mean time, I'll try to keep our mini van humming along and keep working on my little jazzy offerings and live and learn vicariously through Glenn's adventures!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

On Composing & Programming - Part I

The relationship between programming and music - some further commentary on this from my own "musical blog": although there is a great deal in common between the so-called "art" of programming and composing, there are significant differences.

I'm still formulating my thoughts on this, but will say without a doubt that creating music (composing, arranging), although not without its own frustrations, is far more satisfying than the end result of writing code, even though the latter, in my case at least, pays more.

Never has a software app made me weep (unless it crashed my system). Never has a line of code made me think of "the great ones." Never has a software app convinced me that the world will be a better place for it being here (okay, Finale, SONAR, and MS Word are enabling technologies and make me happy, most of the time, I concede). No, writing software is arguably more akin to painting a house, working on a car, taking out the trash. Sure, thought and planning are required. Useful and times, necessary at others. Perhaps a bit of invention and creativity are summoned at certain points in the process, but nothing compared to the feeling of waking up one morning to review the previous night's offerings, only to shake a weary head in wonder, exclaiming: "Great gods of beauty and wonder...where did that come from!" - that's music; that's something rare; that's a horse of a different color.

The lure of software, like music, is its titillating promise: here are the tools - go forth and create! And we do. The reality is, at least with most software (and some could say music too) it usually stinks. Oh, the software may limp along with its faults and frailties for a while, but eventually falls off the emotional radar, rarely to be thought of with any of the other faculties we might otherwise associate with fond, warm and loving things.

In its defense, software helped finance the very thing enabling you to read this. So I am humbled. (I bet they play wicked guitar too!)

Music, on the other hand, is akin to magic. It's mysterious. It can be intellectualized and theorized, yet never ceases to mesmerize. A song or composition can take on new life long after its first inception - long after the life of the writer. The creation of music feeds the soul, warms the heart and broadens the mind. Music cannot be designed or managed by committee - it's a wild horse; attempts to tame her fail. Music needs no OS. Music needs only an audience of one but prefers many.

Now, back to mine.

Thursday, November 13, 2003 Acuired by CNET

CNET acquires certain assets - interesting! This might mess up a few indie artist's ability to make rent this month!

Freddie Hubbard - When your chops are shot

Freddie Hubbard - When your chops are shot

I had the pleasure of meeting the great Freddie Hubbard when I was in college at the U of Idaho ('85 I believe) - our meeting was was very brief and consisted of an introduction, a shake of the hand and some small talk. A very warm, gracious and kind in person - like his music.

And wow, did he deliver!

He was playing double Cs in some of his improvizations! I distinctly recall Dale Curtis, a great trumpet player and fellow U of I student who had the honor of picking Freddie up at the airport (and no one deserved that honor more than Dale!), expressing some amazement how FH just jumped right in and played, with very little warm-up. This, of course, went against everything I was being taught, but hey, if it was working for Freddie... But warming up is obviously something very important.

I continue to enjoy his Freddie Hubbard's amazing flow of ideas. His comments on musician's finding their own voice is an important point - something all musicians must strive for. The only comment I took issue with was the slam on "people like" Wynton [Marsalis] - in my book, Wynton is as "hip" as they come and a great voice for Jazz, whether he's serving as a player, composer, leader or educator.

Freddie's tips on taking care of the old chops seems to go hand in hand with finding one's own voice. To thy own lip be true, lest you be blue.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Rob's latest work-in-progress: Beautiful Moments - many songs come quickly, others take longer. I wrote the first verse to "Beautiful Moments" while just messing around and not even trying to write anything. I let it stew for a couple days before tagging on the remaining verses and bridge, which is drawn from the same fabric. I like to keep an archive my early demos of my songs because often times they have a spark that the produced version lacks.

No, the performance is not polished and my mistakes are rarely flattering - but there's something to these work-in-progress recordings that I love.

Anyway, I'll be posting more works-in-progress, if nothing else than for my own amusement and for some of the folks I perform with.
Veterans Honored - wow, this was a very entertaining tribute. Very moving narration and the performers did great. If you're local to Corvallis, don't miss the 2nd and final performance on Tuesday, November 11, 2003: 7:00 pm, Corvallis High School. Tickets are only $5 for adults, kids are free. What a deal and proceeds go to a good cause.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. Entertainment: "LITERARY
'Magic Barrel: A Reading to Fight Hunger,' 7 p.m., Majestic Theatre, 115 S.W. Second St., Corvallis. Nine authors, a jazz quartet, complimentarty desserts and autographed books and prizes highlight an evening aimed at fighting hunger. Money raised goes to fund local food banks. Suggested donation of $5 at the door. Information: Robert Crum, 737-4472."

And that "jazz quartet" is really a quintet - the Right Relation Quintet, Susan Peck, Jed Irvine, Jim Guynn, Pat Megowan and Rob Birdwell. Another good cause - should be some fun music too - some originals, some standards and some "fanfares" or at least that's the plan.

Honoring veterans with music - this is for a good cause and features LOTS of area talent. I'm playing with the Hill Top Big Band on a couple little offerings and will be the "Bugel Boy" behind the very slick and excellent sounding Free Range Chicks' rendition of the "Boogie Woogie Bugel Boy" - should be fun!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Let's celebrate Elvis Costello - he breaks new ground with "North"! I'm looking forward to exploring this new offering very soon. The site and the interviews are superb - I especially enjoyed the Digital Elvis section of his site, which educates the listener about his musical journeys and ultimately enlightens. I'm inspired. As I listen and read through the material on his site I pull away only briefly to blog these thoughts, and turn to my own piano! Thank you Elvis!