Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Prez!

On this date in 1909, Lester Young was born. If not for a few unfortunate lifestyle choices, he would have been 99 years old. (This isn’t extremely far-fetched, his brother Lee Young, a drummer, passed away earlier this month at the age of 94.)

Hopefully, there are some Lester Young centennial tributes in the works!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Guitar Heroics vs. Bass Reality

Whenever I go into one of the big chain electronics stores, there’s always a bunch of kids vying to take turns at the Guitar Hero game. This whole phenomena makes me ill. It’s such a perfect illustration of instant gratification; why take lessons or practice scales and chords? When I see these kids, I think of Quick Draw McGraw’s alter ego, El Kabong. (If you don’t know what El Kabong did with his guitar, find a baby boomer and ask them.)

On August 10th, the New York Times ran a story about a 17 year old who is poised to make Tony Hawk-like deals (i.e., lucrative) due to his prowess on his “guitar.” The next day, the Los Angeles Times ran the story of a 39 year bass player's struggles as a talented and versatile musician. The title speaks volumes – When Music Barely Pays the Bills.

When you compare the rewards of pantomiming music against the realities of a skilled musician, there’s only one thing to say: KABONG!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vinyl Edition

A couple of weeks ago, one of the participants in the Anthony Braxton online group bought a double album and he was certain that it was a mislabeled product. He told us that one album had side 1 and 4, while the other one had sides 2 and 4. It was rather amusing to watch the replies explain to the (obviously) young man that he didn’t possess a misprint, the layout was very deliberate. Even more fun was him trying to grasp the concept of the automatic record changer and stacking albums. Youth isn’t always an advantage…
They’re still making LPs and best all, they're not just for audiophiles. The Concord Music Group’s Collector’s Corner has vinyl! I have new pressings of John Coltrane (Soultrane), John Coltrane & Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans (Waltz for Debbie), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone Colossus), & Yusef Lateef (Eastern Sounds). I imagine that the original pressings of these albums would fetch quite a sum on eBay. But now, here they are again. There is really quite a difference in the sonic presence you get from the vinyl albums that’s missing from CDs. Another advantage – full sized text and photos for us baby boomers! ;>) Since I have a couple of these sessions in both formats, the comparison was not hard to make. Sadly, I only have one place to listen to albums (thinking about it, that’s always been true). With digital music, I can hear my music pretty much anywhere. Still, it’s worthwhile to treat yourself to a dedicated listening session with some first class vinyl sounds!