#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.

Creative Commons License
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.


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 Music Monday: Adovabadàn Jazz Band… by Adovabadan

[cover] Adovabadan - adovabadan 2009I have been in a funk over the past several days, so to counter my own wretched mood I decided to share something jaunty.

This, the only Creative Commons release by Adovabadan, is a sweet melding of ragtime, dixieland, and swing jazz, and the band clearly had fun doing it.

According to one of the band’s sites:

Adovabadan is an ancient Assyrian-Babylonian word which translated would be “take i[t] easy”.

The idea of this project arised in 2005 rolling out the encounter between Franz Falanga and Isaac De Martin.

Recently, the idea has been gained of the quintet as well as it is today, a revision to the phenomenal Hot Club de France.

A Band purely rhythmic, finely embroidered with melodic lines of clarinet and banjo pastel strokes characterize the sounds of another era, almost a trip back in time to rediscover music that has marked the history and development of Jazz.

While I wouldn’t put this effort in the same league as the Hot Club de France (there is only one Django Reinhardt; ditto Stephane Grapelli), it certainly does the memory of that collection of French jazz fans and performers proud.

Download Adovabadan Jazz Band free from Jamendo.


Creative Commons License
Adovabadàn Jazz Band… by Adovabadan Jazz Band is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

(Apparently the band has changed the licensing, because my copy is CC BY-SA. Another nice thing about Creative Commons licensing — once you have a work under a particular license, it doesn’t matter if the artist later changes it; your copy is under that license in perpetuity.)

Writing Music Monday: Jazzymuté – 1 by Jazzymuté

jazzymute-1-coverMore Creative Commons gypsy jazz. Jazzymuté is good stuff, although not quite up to GEM’s standards.

Translated (via Google), their note on the album reads:

On swings and festive rhythms, the Gironde quintet “Jazzymuté” takes the gypsy jazz spirit to add colors multiethnic music, exploring North Africa, Ireland, South America, some rock standards and the French song and, of course, the countries of Eastern Europe.

And about themselves:

The swing is … and elsewhere.

Background of Gypsy jazz with traditional rhythmic “pump”, Jazzymuté offers a festive mix of gypsy swing, oriental melodies and cosmopolitan influences of yesterday and today. With these songs both happy and melancholy that characterize the music of the East, mingle guitars, bass, cajon, sometimes the accordion to create a warm and energetic atmosphere.

It’s bright, creative, bouncy, and goes places you don’t always expect but which you (or I, at least) always enjoy, such as the track “Agent Double Zéro”.

Jazzymuté – 1 by Jazzymuté is available through Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Jazzymuté – 1 by Jazzymuté is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at jazzymute@laposte.net.

Writing Music Monday: A Lil Sumthin’ Sumthin’ by The Good Lawdz

[cover] The Good Lawdz - A Lil Somethin' Somethin'Round about this time last year, I was afraid that RawBounce Records had been a shooting star. They released several albums in a short span of time around 2009, all of them great (and most already shared through Writing Music Mondays here), and then… nothing. I figured they must have closed shop and all gotten straight gigs, like The Blues Brothers Band.

Then I found The Good Lawdz on BandCamp.

Whoa, Nelly!

This is not yet another Organ Trio.

While deeply rooted in the Hard Bop and Soul Jazz tradition of Grant Green or Jimmy McGriff, don’t be misled: The Good Lawdz are not stuck in the past.

Combining the street attitude and Southern HipHop influences of Slikk Tim on guitar and the cutting edge Urban Gospel stylings of actual church organist Yoann Turpin, it only needs the versatile yet always swingin’ drumming of Yvan Keller to bring these 3 fellas to a very authentic mixture of old & new that’s sure not to disappoint.

Now, typically, I hate organ jazz. Or, at least, I’m grudging about it. Not sure why, and there are exceptions, but for the most part it sounds cheesy to me.

This is one of the glorious exceptions. It’s long, over an hour and all of nine tracks. And not a bad one in the bunch. Just amazing, amazing stuff.

So if you want to buy Slikk Tim and crew some beer, or want non-mp3 formats, head over and get it through BandCamp.

And if you just want a straight mp3 download, then it’s on Jamendo, too. (You can always throw money at them through BandCamp later. 😉 )

Creative Commons License
A Lil Sumthin’ Sumthin’ by The Good Lawdz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Swing Martiner by GEM

[cover] GEM - Swing Martiner

And so we return, yet again, to my love of jazz. This isn’t just jazz, and it’s not just swing, it’s gypsy swing, and it’s pretty damn good.

Swing Martiner by GEM is an album I can’t tell you much about. All the information on Jamendo about it and the artist(s) is in French, and I do not comprendez the vous at all. All I know is that it originates from St. Martin, that it has a very open license, and that it’s quite good.

The artist, Jeremie (I can’t find his last name), seems to be French, to have studied music in the US and Europe, and to reside in the Caribbean. What a life!

He’s not Django Reinhardt, but nobody is. But he’s good. So, download, enjoy, and write!

Creative Commons License
Swing Martiner by GEM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.