#Writing #MusicMonday: Keep Going by Art Owens

coverThis post should have seen the light of day on 15 August 2016.

“Last year was tough, let’s make this a great year.” So wrote Art Owens about this 2011 release. And 2016 is really flipping tough, just in terms of the number of good people who’ve been dying, let alone the economy, the stark raving bonkers election cycle, and so much more.

So here, an all-too-brief bit of jazzy comfort food and encouragement.

I’ve shared Owens’s work three times before — with Simple One, About Life, and Space Rhythm — and while I freely admit he sometimes veers too close to smooth jazz for my tastes, he’s very, very good, as you can quickly learn listening to this album.

Beyond that, I’m not quite sure what to say about Keep Going. It’s only a bit over twenty minutes long, and yet, it is a complete experience. Owens’s trumpet and guitar skills are front and center, and the overall mood is, as you might expect from the motivation for and title of the album, upbeat and encouraging.

This year, I think we could all use a little of that feeling.

Download Keep Going by Art Owens free from the Internet Archive.


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Keep Going by Art Owens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Doumen Suite (斗门组曲) by Pharmacopia

doumen-suite-coverThis album was slotted for 8 August 2016.

This is the second album I’ve shared by Pharmacopia (a.k.a. Peter Dragotta), and his latest, as well as the only one he has recorded and released since expatriating from the United States to China.

My earlier share, Whiteboard Dinovisions, was so avant garde that I wouldn’t be shocked if some people just called it noise. Doumen Suite is only slightly less “out there” than that, so: fair warning.

However, if you want something with a groove, do at least give a listen to track three, “The Second Chapter”. If you like it, let the rest of the album play in the background. You may even find you enjoy it!

Part of the album description:

斗门组曲 (Doumen Suite) comes along with a great outlook for Peter Dragotta’s Pharmacopia. He has a new band from China, his now-adopted home. He has come back to the trumpet, his first instrument with a different approach. The session was recorded in Shenzhen with master bassist Xu Bo Wang (王旭波) and drummer Xiao Yu Deng (邓博宇)

Download Doumen Suite (斗门组曲) by Pharmacopia free from the Internet Archive.


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Doumen Suite (斗门组曲) by Pharmacopia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

https://www.facebook.com/peter.dragotta

#Writing #MusicMonday: Ak-47 Big Band

ca483_02_frontThis album was to have been posted on 25 July 2016.

This album is, potentially, a borderline case. It is released under the tightest Creative Commons license there is, granting you the right only to listen and share. Which is a good thing, because most (perhaps all) of the tracks are covers of well-known jazz and jazz-era songs. Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder” is here. “As Time Goes By” is here, but in an arrangement so original you might have to listen to it a few times to tease out the melody you’re sure you know.

I have no way to check, so I simply assume that the band paid the (minor) fee required to record covers of copyrighted songs. The fact that the license is restricted to “listen and share” tends to support that view.

But even if they haven’t, jazz history is rife with examples of musicians and composers taking earlier works and creating something wholly new out of them. In a sense, jazz is remixing. And given that all the original songs that I know here are so old that the composers are long in the grave, it’s hard to argue that doing original cover versions in any way hurts the creators, in any event.

That concern out of the way, what we have here is a real, genuine, modern big band sound. Ak-47 Big Band is not as tight, nor as bombastic as U.S. Army Blues, from a few albums ago, but they’re real and they’ve got chops.

This eponymous album is, thus far, the only one the band has put out. And, indeed, it is not even a real album, as bandleader Santiago Kurchan writes:

This is not exactly a record. It’s just a sample of the work we’ve been doing, w[h]ich we are proud of and want to show. It’s not a record because the group formed just a few months ago and a pro[j]ect this big has its own time to develop and to generate a continuity and flow in the music and in the people.

Alas, like many Creative Commons jazz outfits, this appears to be a one-and-done affair. This album was released in 2011, and I find nothing new from them at any of the band’s or the bandleader’s sites or social media profiles.

Perhaps it’s simple economics, that maintaining a regular big band is impossible in today’s long tail economy, especially in the CC portion of it. Perhaps it’s just that nobody has found the right formula to make such a thing economically feasible.

Download Ak-47 Big Band by Ak-47 Big Band free from the Internet Archive.


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Ak-47 Big Band by Ak-47 Big Band is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Live at Blues Alley by U.S. Army Blues

coverOK, before we get to the album, a few things.

Yes, I am aware that I’m weeks behind on my Writing Music Monday posts. Seventeen weeks, to be precise.

The weird thing is, I’ve had albums selected for the entire time, with fifteen permanently recorded on my WMM 2016 playlist, and several more lined up but not transferred over to it yet.

I don’t know exactly what the problem has been. Partly, it is depression, which saps the motivation to transition from having made a decision to actually completing a post. But it feels like there was some kind of a mental clog adding to that lack of motivation. Whatever it is, I’m finally pushing through it. I hope.

So, for the next almost-three-weeks, there will be daily (or mostly-daily) music posts, to catch back up to where I am supposed to be as quickly as possible.

This album should have been posted on 4 July 2016.

Meet U.S. Army Blues, a part of the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”). This live performance recording is all I currently know about them, but it’s more than enough — these cats swing! They even have a certain amount of the requisite cheese and too-polished sound of the swing bands that survived the forties, such as Ellington’s and Calloway’s. Not too much, but enough to know that it’s there by intent.

The performance is noted as a particular tribute to Duke Ellington, and most of the original compositions absolutely put me in mind of Ellington recordings from the mid to late 1950s. Loud, brassy, exuberant, and sophisticated.

In fact, my only real complaint about the whole performance is that I, strangely, have just never cared for Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”. That puts me in a minority of one, perhaps, but there it is. The band’s orchestration of “Stardust” is very good, but even so, I tend to skip that track when listening.

Apart from that, it is excellent, and mostly original, big band swing. Of which there is vanishingly little in the Creative Commons, so it’s nice that this one, at the least, is so very good.

Download Live at Blues Alley free from the Free Music Archive, or get just the public domain tracks from the U.S. Army Blues site itself.

You can also find pictures taken at the event on the US Army Band’s Flickr account.


CC0

To the extent possible under law, U.S. Army Blues has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Live at Blues Alley.

The tracks that are not public domain are “Main Stem”, composed by Duke Ellington, “Stardust”, composed by Hoagy Carmichael, and “Barbra”, composed by Horace Silver. Those tracks are probably best treated as if they were CC BY-NC-ND licensed.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Lines by UP (Pasqualino Ubaldini and Paolo Pavan)

CoverPaolo Pavan and Pasqualino Ubaldini are, separately, two of the best jazz artists working in the Creative Commons.

I’ve previously shared two of Pavan’s albums, Inside and The Swing Of Things, and one by Ubaldini, Metissage.

However, to the delight of myself, if nobody else, they also team up and collaborate, creating sounds that are wholly different from their solo works, and they do it under the name of UP. Their first collaboration, which I shared previously as well, was an eponymous release that had a wide an eclectic variety of styles.

And that pattern holds through their second collaborative album, Lines.

The title track is upbeat, borderline-smooth jazz. The second track, “Nije”, has an early-70s fusion-funk jangly rough-edged synthesizers feel (makes me think of Ramsey Lewis a bit). Then the third track, “Talking about Petra”, goes into relaxed, urbane quartet cool jazz. That’s three tracks in, and it’s already all over the map. Yet, and of course, because this is Paolo Pavan and Pasqualino Ubaldini, it all works together brilliantly.

I’ve been waiting on posting this album a bit, because Pavan and Ubaldini have started up a new Creative Commons music site largely devoted to jazz, FreeSoundtracks.eu, and I was hoping to link to it there. However, it’s still not live yet — one imagines both men are just a little bit busy — so I’m linking to Bandcamp, where you get it under a Free Culture license, though you do have to pay to get it. But give it a listen on the site, and then try telling me it’s not worth it, because I’ll just laugh.

Download Lines by UP from Bandcamp


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Lines by UP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Envers et contre toi by Maya de Luna

Cover[Yep, two days late. That’ll teach me to put off scheduling posts at least a month ahead of time.]

It’s been more than three years since I shared anything by Maya de Luna, which is a bit of a crime. She’s a French singer who, alas, seems to have stopped recording original work in recent years, though she has posted much of her past work to Youtube, and occasionally leaves comments (in French, alas, which I do not speak or read, alack). And she has somewhat recently done covers of pop songs, like Katy Perry’s “E.T.

She sings almost always in French, and her voice is quite haunting, at least to me.

The previous album, Bar Stim.Art, was her jazziest work (and my favorite), but today’s album, while less overtly jazz-influenced, still carries it in less obvious ways. It is her second (and only other) collaboration with Bruno Stimart, whose work apart from his teaming with de Luna I don’t know, but he brings out the very best in her.

If you listen to this for no other reason, you probably want to hear Maya de Luna meow at you. At least, I enjoy it. (It’s the next-to-last track, “La griffe arrogante”.)

The final track, “Reflet”, somehow does not feel like an end track to an album. It stops, and you expect more. And listening to my Music Monday choices in advance, I have found that it’s a very nice segue into next week’s album, so you’ll only be left waiting a few days. Or, you can download everything Maya de Luna has released and enjoy her quite lovely voice some more. Either way works.

Download Envers et contre toi free from the Internet Archive


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Envers et contre toi by Maya de Luna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Are You Still There? by Jazoo

CoverI first discovered Jazoo last summer, and shared their latest (and arguably best) album last fall, including it on my best of the year list and declaring it one of the greatest jazz albums available in the Creative Commons, period.

So if this is a step down, it’s akin to stepping down from top-form Miles Davis to top-form Cannonball Adderley.

Which is to say that this album is also really, really damned good.

There’s a lot more singing and vocals in general here than there was on Back From Reality. But apart from that, and a very different pacing to the album as a whole (there is a purposeful and very effective blank space in the middle, which fits perfectly into the mood being set), it is recognizably of a piece with the more recent masterpiece.

And, fair warning, one track — “DesART Sun” — features the deliciously-voiced female vocalist being distractingly and overtly sexual. You may want to leave that one track off your writing playlist (even though it’s incredibly good).

Something that seems to have been happening recently, not through any conscious design on my part, is that Writing Music Monday albums have been pairing up and grouping to pleasing effect (at least to me). This week and next week are another example of this happening. The final track on this album, “Hard Break”, definitely leaves the listener wanting more. It feels like the album just stops rather than ends, and it seems purposeful.

As you will learn next week, it segues beautifully into the next album I’m going to share. But for that, you must wait.

Download Are You Still There? free from the Internet Archive.


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Are You Still There? by Jazoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.