#Writing #Music Monday: Back from Reality by Jazoo

Jazoo - Back from Reality CoverThis one is out there. Not the farthest “out there” thing I’ve shared, but definitely out there. It’s five tracks, and an hour and three minutes, of free jazz or fusion, a style I usually don’t have much patience with.

Jazoo is a Slovenian jazz band that has been playing together since 1996, and has five albums out under Free Culture licenses, this being their most recent. And it’s kind of amazing. It’s not just noise, despite the obvious amount of improvisation and messing around that went into it. The first two tracks, “Orange Green” and “Eleven Eight” are nearly twenty-five minutes, but segue into each other almost unnoticeably, and the album as a whole, while it goes all over the sonic map, manages to cohere into a unified emotional experience.

Given that I don’t get into this sound, much, I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s more accessible, I think, than Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and far more accessible than the weirdest stuff by Sun Ra and his Arkestra, but that’s the territory it explores, to some extent.

There is some vocalization, but none of it drew me out of what I was working on, any of the times I listened to it straight through. The voices are treated as part of the instrumentation — quite literally, as one of the voices turns out to be the flautist on at least one track, and uses her voice as part of the flute’s sound as well.

Overall, this album really impresses me, in no small part because I usually resist this sort of thing. But, for reasons I don’t have words for, it really, really works for me. If your writing mood needs background that’s a bit noisy, uneven, occasionally discordant, and yet holds together on its own terms, it might work for you too. Check it out.

Download Back from Reality by Jazoo free from the Internet Archive.

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Back from Reality by Jazoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

(While Jazoo seem to have been quiet online for a year or so, as of last week their Twitter stream promises they are returning.)

#Writing #Music Monday: White Notes by Jazz Friends

White Notes Cover“Jazz Friends” is a long-running Jamendo project in which Creative Commons jazzish (heavy on the “-ish”) acts contribute a track apiece to collaborative albums once or twice a year.

The newest, White Notes, is arguably the best they’ve put out so far. And the apparent reason for that is that they changed the process by which tracks were selected:

The new album by Jazz Friends comes with Santa Claus, just in time to put it under your Christmas tree.

It’s our gift to you. Listen and donate it to your friends, to give music is as to give a bit of sky.

With the abetting of the festive spirit, the general atmosphere of the album is more lounge and relaxed, but there are moments of pure classic jazz, moments of sweet Christmas atmosphere and, why not, a sprinkle of jazz rock too. You can appreciate also two new, extraordinary female voices, sensual, enchanting … and I say no more: to you the pleasure of discovering.

New in this time, the project became open, not only invitations, but also the possibility for all artist to propose their songs, to be included in the album. Among the many received it was selected one especially meritorious. This experience, even if laborious, has been amazing and we’ll propose it again for the next album, reserving more space for new participants.

It works nicely as a post-Christmas-but-tis-still-the-season album, heading us on our way as we proceed from halfway out of the dark ever toward the light.

Download White Notes by Jazz Friends from Jamendo.

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White Notes by Jazz Friends is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Writing Music Monday: About Life by Art Owens

[cover] Art Owens - About LifeArt Owens has appeared once before on Writing Music Monday, with Space Rhythm back in 2013. He is, or was, a jazz composer and trumpeter working (I believe) mostly with synthesizers on his own. (Except, of course, for his distinctive trumpet work, which is what keeps drawing me back to him.)

And a lot of his work he pulled from Jamendo when they “redesigned” the site and “improved” it by removing features and disabling things that people liked. He left up six albums, but this is not one of them. And so far as I know, he retired from making music all together.

However, because he released all his work to the Creative Commons, all it took was somebody caring enough to post his work elsewhere, with proper attribution and sharing alike, and this album, and many others, remain “out there” for anyone to enjoy.

Sometimes his stuff is right up my alley, other times I’m not in the mood at all. But when I am in the mood, it’s great to write to, even when, as in this album, there are tracks that include lyrics.

Great stuff to write to, and that’s what I should be doing. So, back to the novel.

You can download About Life by Art Owens from the Internet Archive.

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About Life by Art Owens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Martian Winter by Bruce H. McCosar

Martian Winter coverBruce H. McCosar is another O.G. Creative Commons musician who seems to have stopped releasing albums, which is a pity. But he has hours and hours of music available, and all of it is Free Culture-licensed, which means that even if he vanished in the the middle of the Bermuda Triangle intestate, his works will live on.

Between 2006 and 2010, McCosar — a middle school science teacher by profession — released eight solid albums of instrumental rock, post-rock and jazz.

Martian Winter was the fifth, released at the tail end of 2008. It combines his rock and jazz influences in interesting ways, and makes a very good soundtrack for writing or outlining.

As for what it means to him personally:

Like NASA’s Spirit rover, I survived a long journey, and found myself in a new land.

Like Spirit, I find myself under a darkening sky. Time goes on, and the light fades.

During Martian Winter, Spirit shuts down. But Spirit always returns.

That day is today. Listen to the newest transmissions from your sister planet.

So, it’s not nearly as spacy or Vangelis like as the previous Writing Music Monday album, but it’s still not a thing easily to be slotted into genre strictures. It’s a personal work, and feels it.

Download Martian Winter free from Jamendo.

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Martian Winter by Bruce H. McCosar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan

The Swing of Things CoverPaolo Pavan continues to be one of the treasures of Creative Commons music. His latest album, THE SWING OF THINGS, is no disappointment.

Pavan has been releasing new material into the commons since (at least) 2007, averaging a new full album every two years or so. And there has not been a dud among them, even as each collection of pieces has its own identity and style.

This album brings four guest musicians (including his collaborator on previous Writing Music Monday album UP, Pasqualino Ubaldini, a welcome guest indeed) to his usual quartet, and together they go exploring several themes in ways further from “smooth jazz” than and closer to what I would call real jazz than some of his other work.

And while it was recorded at his home and mixed by himself and Davide Roberto Pavan*, the whole thing sounds very professional with the exception of some deliberate personal touches. For instance, you can hear the valves working on the tenor sax in “Nobody Sleep”, which does not come off unprofessional at all, but rather intimate. Like you’re getting a concert for one, even.

In short: New Paolo Pavan — what are you waiting for!?

You can download THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan Quartet from Jamendo.

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THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan Quartet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

* Note: I conflated two names, originally. Davide Roberto is the percussionist on the album, not the recording mixer.

Writing Music Monday: Space Rhythm by Art Owens

Art Owens sometimes strays too far into “smooth jazz” for my tastes but that isn’t always a bad thing. Smooth jazz, if it does not irritate you, makes for good sonic wallpaper, something in the background while you’re concentrating on other things.

Well, Space Rhythm walks the borderline of smooth jazz, but doesn’t go over it in a way that irritates me, but it’s also close enough that you can play it and ignore it, or play it and listen and not feel like your musical mind is turning to mush. (Yeah, I don’t like so-called smooth jazz, if you couldn’t tell.)

It’s also one of those albums that justifies its synth sound. He seems to have been going for a retro-futuristic lounge sound, and he hits it, making all the noticeable synth work for it, rather than against it.

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Space Rhythm by Art Owens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Mondays: Alegria by Diego Sanchez

[cover] Diego - ALEGRIAHere’s one I don’t get, an album that’s quite pleasing, lengthy enough to be substantial all on its own (just shy of an hour), with talent and ambition, the most open licensing you could ask for, and it appears to be getting no love at all.

Alegría by Diego Sanchez is latin jazz, modern in (mostly) really good ways, and something you should have no problem putting on to play in the background if you want something upbeat, jazzy, a bit rock-ish, and basically happy in the background while you write. The Attribution-only license is merely icing on the cake.

And yet, though it’s been out nearly two years, it doesn’t have quite 1,500 plays, and barely more than 200 downloads. (He has another album that’s gotten substantially more attention, but I’ve not gotten to that one yet.)

So go, have a listen, and if you like it, download away.

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Alegría by Diego Sanchez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.